When making items to sell it is important to be aware of exactly what you are putting out there, after all you are putting your name to it so you want it to represent what you stand for and for your hard work reflect the product.
What is important to me as a maker?
Quality … I aim to produce jewellery of a high standard, I want it to last and to be treasured forever. This begins with the materials I use. I only buy my raw metals from a select number of reliable, consistent and reputable sources. This means that the metal will be consistent quality from one item to another.
I try to only use solid metals however there is the option of gold filled chains due to extreme cost differences in a solid gold version on some of my chains.
Filled is a higher quality than plating, plating is where a very fine coating of gold covers a base metal where as filled is a thicker layer of gold pressure bonded to to a base metal (usually sterling silver) there for meaning filled is harder wearing and will not wear off over a short period of time going discoloured quite quickly instead it will wear down over several years.
Plating for me is not the real deal, it’s what the high street stores use to mass produce and replicate designs to make the best margins and low retail prices. It doesn’t last forever and in my eyes fits in to the “Fast Fashion” category. Don’t get me wrong I don’t disagree with it, it has its place and gives a look for a lot less money so is a more consumer friendly option but for me personally it is a “fashion accessory” and not what I believe “jewellery” should be.
Jewellery is my passion (I am a self confessed jewellery snob) and in my eyes jewellery is a luxury item that is designed and made with a lasting quality in mind.
When buying metals I always have in mind that the items I am making will likely need to be hallmarked so it has to be made from hallmarking grade materials.
How can you guarantee or tell a metal quality?
yWe have all bought Silver jewellery on holiday, from festivals and markets that has gradually made our skin turn a weird murky colour … These may even be sold using the words “Sterling Silver” or “Silver” even sometimes stamped with the 925 that is thought to prove a metal grade … this 925 stamp means absolutely nothing, anyone can buy these punches on eBay and apply them to any item, the only way to guarantee a metal quality is with an official Hallmark.
What is a Hallmark?
A Hallmark is a guarantee of quality and fineness. All Silver items over 7.78g to be sold using the description word “Silver” in the UK is required by law to have a UK recognised hallmark this is the same for Gold but applies for any items over 1g. The items are sent to one of the UK registered Assay Offices where the metal is tested and then stamped to authenticate before being returned to the maker for retailing.
A Hallmark consists of different symbols – the year the piece was made, the Assay Office Stamp to show where it was Hallmarked, what the item is made of and who made the item, most makers also have their own individual stamp so each piece is traceable to its maker.
All outlets, be it online, in a store or at markets selling precious metals must display the statutory notice which is provided by the Assay Office explaining and detailing each aspect of the Hallmark.
This document shown below so look out for it when you are next looking to purchase a piece of jewellery.
Obviously the Hallmarking service is not free or even really cheap but it does guarantee a degree of quality in your work.
I personally use the London Assay Office to mark any qualifying weight piece, I tend not to Hallmark the under weight items as it adds a lot on to the price and it means that I can keep these items at a lower price point but it can always be added to any pieces on request for an additional cost.
Working a Hallmark in to your costing of each item can be tricky, its not just the price of the hallmarking itself either as you have to pay the insured postage each way to and from the Assay Office too and so can over price some items when it comes to the retail value.
If you are interested in reading more in to the history of the Hallmark or more detail on the process Click Here!
I have noticed a lot of small businesses selling stating the words “Sterling Silver” “Recycled Silver” “Eco Silver” or just “Silver” on items that would be over the legal weight but without a Hallmark and to be honest it actually really annoys me.
Those of us that do it according to the law have to price our items accordingly and seeing similar items for sale at a price that couldn’t possibly include this, material costs and be paying anything near minimum wage for the time it took to actually make the item it just doesn’t seem fair to those that have done their research and put so much effort in to doing it this right way.
The Hallmarking law around selling precious metals is there for everyone,
It protects the consumer as they can be confident that they are spending their money on something of a guaranteed quality.
It protects the seller as metals can react with different PH balances in peoples skin and discolour or cause reactions, if an item has a Hallmark the seller can prove that the item is a quality product and that it is not a returnable product on a quality or miss-selling issue.
It also protects the industry as a whole, insuring that standards are kept high and the market is not awash of mass produced sub-standard products that will end up in the bin within a few weeks. Having this standard also gives the industry a starting point to price items at a level that people can earn a living and continue to work. Metal prices are set and Hallmarking costs are set leaving the only variables being the rate in which each individual maker pays themselves and the mark up they wish to add on to their products so that they can earn their living and continue to produce their beautiful luxury goods.
Other than it being the law I am very proud to be registered with the Assay Office and to mark my work with this traditional symbol of fineness. It also means that in years to come my work can be traced back to me which is a really warm fuzzy feeling.
I hope this has ben an insightful blog post for you and will help you to buy well in the future by knowing what to look out for when looking for a quality piece if jewellery to last a lifetime and be passed on throughout generations.
Until next time … when I will be bringing you some AMAZING small businesses who can provide you with everything you need for the coming festive season.