After the article on precious metal titles, we continue this series of articles on gold hallmarks.
I will proceed in order from the highest (999 ‰) to the lowest (375 ‰) title. I will also address the subject of second-hand jewellery, of foreign provenance, and differentiate between “title hallmarks” and “small guarantee”. Shall we go?
The “Seahorse” hallmark is recent. It was created in 1994 and is mainly found on gold bars. This hallmark guarantees the highest grade for gold, 999 ‰. Only the office of guarantee is competent to affix it, and delegation is prohibited. The use of 999 ‰ gold is very rare in jewellery because it is too soft. On very rare occasions, it may be worked for the realization of settings to accommodate emeralds or opals. Its ease of use allows a fragile stone to be set without too much risk. But in principle, and in this case, jewellers use 916 ‰ gold. Note, finally, that this hallmark only concerns newly produced ingots.
The “eagle head – 1st title” gold hallmark is the one that guarantees gold at 916 ‰. It is a title hallmark that is affixed by the office of guarantee. It is rarely found in jewellery, except (and as for 999 ‰ gold) for the realization of settings having to accommodate emeralds, opals…etc. Its ease of use allows a fragile stone to be set without too much risk. This hallmark is only used for new work.
The gold hallmark “eagle head – 3rd title” is the one that guarantees gold at 750 ‰. It is a title hallmark that is affixed by a guarantee office. It is rarely found on jewellery, because manufacturers now have, and increasingly so, the delegation that allows them to hallmark themselves in the workshops, under the regular control of customs. This hallmark is only used on new items.
The “eagle head” hallmark is the one that guarantees gold at 750 ‰. This hallmark is the one of the “small guarantee” and it is affixed today, in most cases, by manufacturers within the framework of the delegation of hallmarks. It is the most common hallmark on gold jewellery. This hallmark guarantees both new and second-hand items of French origin made of 750 ‰ gold. New imported items will be hallmarked in the same way.
The “owl” hallmark characterises second-hand jewellery of foreign or uncertain origin. It has existed since 1994. This hallmark is a bit special because it guarantees that the jewel is made of at least 750 gold ‰. If the jewel is of a higher grade (999 or 916 ‰), this will not be indicated. Finally, it is the office of guarantee that affixes it in most cases.
The “ET – Exempt from Title” or “low title” hallmark is an old hallmark, it has existed since 1919. It has undergone minimal modification but has kept the same design. Affixed to second-hand gold works, it means that the jewel is made in a title lower than 375 ‰. These works are not systematically hallmarked, they must be recognised as being of artistic or historical interest. It is thus a rather rare punch and finally very little known. It can be affixed by the guarantee offices but also by auctioneers and municipal credit officials. Nevertheless, it is not systematically affixed. Finally, it is important to know that all objects with a non-conforming title must be immediately reported to customs.
The “Coquille Saint-jacques” hallmark has existed since 1994. It guarantees gold with a titre of 585 ‰. It is affixed by the office of guarantee but also in delegation and one finds it on the new works as well as of occasion.
The “three-leaf clover” hallmark guarantees gold with a titre of 375 ‰. It is affixed by the office of guarantee but also in delegation and one finds it on the new works as well as second-hand.
I know that the subject of hallmarks is complex. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments, I will try to answer them.
See you soon!