Many customers aren’t clued up on UK jewellery laws and regulations. One example of this is hallmarking, which can guarantee purity, and independent certification of a diamond can prove that the stone has been graded by an unbiased and professional examination.
When purchasing jewellery, you must check that you receive a certificate to ensure that what you’re buying is legitimate.
The certificate will describe important elements of the diamond such as colour, clarity, carat and cut. This is achieved by professionals evaluating and measuring the gem using industry tools. It’s important to note that only qualified individuals can carry this out. Although certification does cost, the retailer often factors this into the price of the jewellery.
You might come across some jewellers that claim they don’t need independent certification. Perhaps they guarantee that all of their diamonds are high-quality, but you shouldn’t always trust this claim - make sure that your diamonds have been third-party certified.
Another thing to bear in mind is the lab where the diamond was certified. It’s worth noting that GIA labs are recognised to be the most prestigious and respected independent laboratories in the world and they set the standard when it comes to grading. For this reason, you might find that diamonds graded in these labs are sold at a higher price.
A hallmark is a government seal stamped on a metal object to display its purity. Only an official UK government assay office can apply a hallmark and there are just four locations in the UK that carry this out. It’s important to note that only official assaying can guarantee standards, and this is something you can ask about when you buy jewellery.
In Britain, to comply with the Hallmarking Act 1973, if a jeweller claims that a piece has gold, silver, platinum or palladium in it, it must be hallmarked.
You might also have noticed a difference in white and yellow golds. These must be further classified into 9K, 14K, 18K and 22K standards. It’s also essential for silver, platinum and palladium rings to satisfy a certain percentage of purity to meet UK hallmarking standards. It is an offence to claim that jewellery is made with a precious metal if it’s not hallmarked in this way; bear this in mind when you’re purchasing from an untrusted source. However, there are some exemptions; those that weigh under a certain number of grams:
- 1 gram for gold
- 0.5 gram for platinum & palladium
- 7.78 grams for silver
You therefore won’t expect to see a hallmark if you purchase jewellery with metal content lower than the above figures.
It is within UK regulations that the metal content in a jewellery piece is regulated.
Lead can cause problems when it is overly present, and jewellery should not contain a concentration of lead which is equal to or greater than 0.05% by weight. This can cause irritation which may lead to a reaction in some individuals.
karat: when used with gold, is a unit of purity
carat : the unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstones.
The purest of gold is 24 karat and this figure decreases as it is mixed with other metals, eg silver or copper. The purity of 24K gold gives it the bright yellow appearance, however, it is not very wearable as it's very soft and can change shape easily when not mixed with other metals.
Be vigilant when purchasing your next piece of jewellery by getting to grips with UK jewellery regulations.
This article was written by jewellery retailer, Angelic Diamonds.
DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances, and is merely a general comment on the relevant topic.
Published on 4th June 2019
(Last updated 24th June 2019)