Guidance

Hallmarking in the UK: consumer protection

This guidance is to help you know how to recognise a hallmark and who to contact about your consumer rights.

Real or fake jewellery

The hallmark is one of the oldest forms of consumer protection. It’s there to protect you, the buyer. Jewellery (or any other item) that is described as gold, silver, platinum or palladium must have a hallmark to guarantee its authenticity and its quality.

There are minimum weight exemptions depending on the type of metal.

Precious metal items are expensive and it pays to take your time over your decision to buy.

Fraud is happening through the sale of fake jewellery in the UK market. If you buy something that turns out to be a fake or not accurately described, this can lead to disappointment and embarrassment, not to mention costing you money. It can even lead to a risk to health if dangerous heavy metals have been added to the fake item.

Buying in a shop

Always ask if the piece is hallmarked: this is your guarantee of authenticity. Hallmarks can be tiny. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a magnifying glass so that you can take a proper look.

You need to look for the Dealer’s Notice that jewellers have to display. You can use this to check the hallmark.

Jewellery shops need to display a Dealer’s Notice, which they can either:

  • download for free from any of the Assay office websites (in the downloads section)
  • order in hard copy from any of the 4 Assay offices

Buying online

If you are buying online, hallmarking law still applies. When you’re buying online, try to find out where the seller is based. Legal rights are difficult to enforce when the trader is not based in the UK.

Reputable sellers

You can protect yourself by buying from a reputable seller. Whether buying in a shop or online, look out for a sign indicating that the seller belongs to an appropriate trade body.

Get help

Contact Citizens Advice if you have a dispute with a seller or need guidance.

Selling unhallmarked goods is a crime. If you see a trader selling unhallmarked goods contact your Local Authority and ask to speak to Trading Standards, or report it through the consumer helplines.

Published 23 August 2019