The Goldsmiths’ Company has been trading since 1300 and offer independent assessment ensuring the purity of the metals used. It is these tests that are carried out that are indicated through the marks struck.
The Images below represent the four assay offices of Great Britain: from left to right, the leopard’s head of London, the anchor of Birmingham, the Yorkshire rose of Sheffield, and the castle of Edinburgh.
As it now stands, the compulsory part of the UK hallmark consists of the sponsor or maker’s mark, the assay office mark, and the standard of fineness. In the example below BJR represents the makers mark of Benjamin James Ryan, the Leopard’s head for the assay office of London and the 925 to indicate 925 silver parts in 1000 to state that the metal is sterling silver.
The bottom example shows the extra marks that can also be struck… the lion passant symbol indicating Sterling silver, and the (a) the date mark (lowercase (a) for ’2000′).
Benjamin James Ryan has all work marked at the London Assay office, and the BJR makers mark will always be seen next to the Leopards head of London. The date marks will invariably change, as will the purity number of the metal and its symbol depending on what material the work is made from. Benjamin James Ryan makes it standard practice to have all the marks and symbols struck on his work, either hand struck or laser marked.
For further information on hallmarking in relation to the Hallmarking Act 1973 Diamond Guidance