Official titles and guarantee marks of precious metals (1/5)

May 17, 2014

I had been planning to write a summary article on precious metal stocks for a while. I finally decided to write it after reading more mistakes on an article in a magazine. And I figure it can’t hurt to remind myself of the legislative principles relating to gold, silver and platinum trading. Given the complexity of the subject, it will be the subject of several articles (The titles of the metals (1), the hallmarks of gold (2), the hallmarks of silver (3), the hallmarks of platinum (4), the special hallmarks (5)

The first important thing to know is that today the designations 18 carat gold, 14 carat gold or 9 carat gold, to name but a few, are prohibited by French law. In the same way, the “18K” or “14K” hallmarks that can sometimes be seen on jewellery (mainly foreign) are in no way proof that your jewellery is made of gold. I can also mention foreign hallmarks such as “750”, “925”, “800”. The examples are numerous, but nothing replaces the guarantee hallmarks which are obligatory on the parts manufactured or imported on the French territory. It should be added that articles of jewellery made of precious metals but produced abroad must show proof of title in accordance with the provisions of the law (Art. 522 of the CGI)

There is a downside, however, with the reform of the Guarantee services on 1 July 2004. Since this date, professionals who request it and who meet the attribution criteria can affix the hallmarks relating to the certification of precious metals and certain coins are no longer subject to the obligation of the guarantee hallmark. Thus the guarantee exemption concerns :

  • Gold and platinum coins weighing less than 3 grams and silver coins weighing less than 30 grams (while still having to be legally titled and marked with the maker’s or liability hallmark),
  • prior to 1838 and those after that date already bearing old French hallmarks of guarantee,
  • containing gold, silver or platinum and weighing less than the legal standard,
  • which cannot bear the hallmarks without deterioration,
  • coming from a country of the European Economic Area or Turkey, already bearing the imprint of a manufacturer’s hallmark or a responsibility hallmark on the one hand and a registered title hallmark on the other.

There are therefore different hallmarks depending on the title, depending on the work (new, second-hand, French or foreign) and finally depending on who affixes the hallmark (guarantee service or manufacturers). I will therefore try to explain this to you. But first, I must explain the difference between the names “title hallmark” and “small guarantee”.

The title hallmark (sometimes called the “large guarantee hallmark”) indicates that the hallmark is applied after a verification of the metal by the “cup test” for gold and “wet test” for silver. The “small guarantee” hallmark means that a “touch test” has been carried out with the hallmark. In any case, this difference in designation does not indicate a lower quality or a lower precious metal content. I would also add that the “small guarantee” hallmarks are smaller and therefore more commonly used on jewellery.

1. Gold

French law recognises six official grades for gold: 999 thousandths (Anc. 24 carats), 916 thousandths (Anc. 22 carats), 750 thousandths (Anc. 18 carats), 585 thousandths (Anc. 14 carats) and 375 thousandths (Anc. 9 carats). I remind you that the names followed by the word “carat” are now prohibited.

2. Silver

French law recognises three official titles for silver: 999 thousandths, 925 thousandths and 800 thousandths

3. Platinum

French law recognises four official titles for platinum: 999 thousandths, 950 thousandths, 900 thousandths and 850 thousandths. I would add that jewellery made of iridium but associated with platinum is considered as platinum.

See you soon!


marie chabrol

Hello my name Is Marie. Speaker, consultant & teacher, I write with passion about the world of jewelry.

my ideal library

This is my ideal library. All these books are part of my own library and I always read them with great pleasure.