What are these tiny little letters and numbers? Why are they there? What do they mean? Hallmark research can be one of the most fun (or most frustrating) parts of the job as we put on our white gloves and survey the crime scene...
Different regions use different methods of hallmarking precious metals, which can lead to some confusing, yet potentially satisfying, research. The hallmarking system used in the United States is completely different from the United Kingdom's, which is different from Mexico's, which is different from Italy's, and so on and so forth. Some countries use numbers, letters and words, while others use images that represent different meanings. Some hallmarks can be easy to identify while others can leave you scratching your head.
In the photo pictured above, there are 4 hallmarks stamped on the inside of a child's cuff bracelet. The first stamp, "AJLD", is the maker's mark indicating the bracelet was made by Adler Jewellers of London. The second and third hallmarks represent the purity of the piece, which is 37.5% pure gold, or 9 karat gold. The fourth, and final hallmark, is an anchor that signifies the bracelet was assayed in Birmingham, England.
The necklace, pictured above, has a plaque with several interesting hallmarks. The "750" mark, typical of Italian jewelry, indicates the piece is 75% pure, or 18 karat gold. The "18 AR" stamp is the registered Italian hallmark for Ponzalli Jewelers, signifying that they were the 18th registered jeweler in the history of Arezzo, Italy.
This vintage bracelet, pictured above, is stamped with several hallmarks, some of which are only partially visible. This isn't too uncommon, especially in silver pieces of this region. "Iguala, GRO" indicates the piece was made in the small town of Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, just outside the famous silver hub of Taxco. The "Sterling" stamp is only partially visible, indicating the piece is 92.5% pure silver. Lastly, at the center of the stamp, is the maker's mark that reads "GLR".
The hallmark inside the shank of this wedding band, pictured above, is a typical American hallmark. It reads "14K", indicating the piece is 14 karat gold, or 58.5% pure gold.
But what is the mark to the right of it?
That's the fun part... Or the frustrating part, depending on the results!