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Palladium Hallmarking

palladium hallmarking
Palladium joins gold, silver and platinum as the fourth recognized precious metal. This means articles cannot be sold in the UK without a statutory hallmark, applied by one of the four independent UK Assay Offices after testing to ensure the precious metal content meets a recognized standard. Articles can be marked as containing a minimum of either 500, 950 or 999 parts per thousand of Palladium. The UK hallmark protects the consumer from dishonest traders and jewellers from unfair competition. Why is Palladium being added to the Hallmarking Act?

What needs to be hallmarked?
As of the 1st January 2010 it is an offence for any person in the course of trade or business to:
• Describe an un-hallmarked article as being wholly or partly made of Palladium.
• Supply or offer to supply un-hallmarked articles to which such a description is applied.

Main Exemptions:
Palladium articles below 1 gram in weight will remain exempt from hallmarking.
The exemption weight is based on the weight of the precious metal content only, excluding, for example, weight of diamonds, stones etc., except in the case of articles consisting of precious metal and base metal in which case the exemption weight is
based on the total metal weight:

• Any article made before 1950 may now be described and sold as Palladium without a hallmark, if the seller can prove that it is of minimum fineness and was manufactured before 1950.

Palladium has been added to the Hallmarking Act
Palladium is a white precious metal, which, in recent years has grown in popularity amongst jewellery manufacturers, jewellery retailers and jewellery consumers. Palladium has a monetary value, by weight, of somewhere between that of 9ct and 14ct gold.

Like Gold, Platinum and Silver, Palladium is rarely used in its purest form but instead it is
normally alloyed with lesser metals in order to achieve a desired strength and durability etc. It is not possible to detect by sight or by touch the Palladium content of an item.

An independent hallmark confirming the authenticity and fineness of the Palladium alloy
will protect the trade and the consumer. It will also increase the appeal and potentially the
perceived value of Palladium articles.

Palladium Hallmarks Now Available
All the 4 UK Assay Offices are now able to apply the new legally recognised Palladium Hallmark. From the 1st January 2010 the hallmarking of Palladium became compulsory.

Brooch in Palladium by Stephen Webster.

Brooch in Palladium by Stephen Webster.

What are the Palladium standards for hallmarking?
The Palladium fineness for UK hallmarking (expressed in parts per thousand by weight) along with the standard of solder permitted to be used, for each individual fineness, is listed below.

Change to the PALLADIUM Fineness mark shape

  • Palladium has much in common with Platinum - it is very white, does not require plating and does not tarnish. However, it is less dense and less expensive and the consequences of mistakenly identifying Platinum as Palladium or vice versa could be costly.
  • There is no quick acid test available to identify Palladium.
  • As with Platinum the most popular fineness is 950 and the trade has expressed so much concern that the two metals will be confused that the four UK Assay Offices have taken the unprecedented step of changing the original fineness mark to make it more distinguishable.
  • The first shape (used from July - December 2009) was a trapezium, clearly different from Platinum when perfect but with potential to be reduced to fainter straight lines as the hallmark becomes worn. After many key businesses voiced their worries the outline has been amended to three adjoining circles, so all lines are curved.
  • The new shape introduced in January 2010 when the mark became compulsory but the trapezium will remain legal and there is no need to re hallmark anything.
  • various fineness marks

500palladium - 500 Gold, Silver, Platinum or Palladium (or any combination)
with a minimum fineness of 500ppt.
950 / 999
palladium 950 & 999
Gold, Silver, Platinum or Palladium (or any combination thereof)
with a minimum fineness of 700ppt

What will the Palladium Hallmark look like?
The Palladium Hallmark will be made up of three compulsory symbols and one voluntary symbol:

sponsors mark1. The Sponsor’s or Maker’s Mark - compulsory
This indicates the maker or sponsor of the article. In the UK this mark consists of one or more letter within a shield. No two marks are the same.

assay logos2. Assay Office Mark - compulsory
Indicates the particular Assay Office at which the article was tested and marked.
There are currently four Assay.

finesse purity3. Fineness (purity) Mark - compulsory
Indicates the Palladium content of the article and that it is not less than the fineness of the article indicated. The fineness is indicated by a millesimal number (parts per thousand) and the metal type is indicated by the shape of the surround.

500 - 950 - 999

pictorial symbo - pallas athena4. Pictorial symbol- voluntary
In keeping with hallmarking tradition customers can opt to include a pictorial symbol alongside three compulsory symbols. The pictorial symbol for Palladium will be Pallas Athene, the Greek the Goddess of War, Wisdom and Crafts, after whom Palladium was named. The mark has been designed especially for use as part of the new palladium hallmark.

2010 date letter5. Date Letter - Voluntary
An optional date letter may be applied. The letter changes every January 1st. The letter for 2010 is I.