Any British jewelry made prior to 1999 were required to include a date letter stamp, a letter corresponding to the year that it was registered with the assay office.
From contemporary pieces to antiques, jewelry hallmarks are typically found on gold and silver jewelry.These hallmarks — commonly known as purity marks, maker’s marks, symbols, or date letters — can give you some useful insight on the materials, epoch, and producer of a piece of jewelry.Jewelry marks in France stretch back even earlier, with examples first seen in the 13th century.An important year to know if you’re collecting French antique jewelry is the year 1797, when it was required to have a maker’s mark framed within a lozenge, a diamond-shaped charge that is often placed on the field of a shield.collections created by designers Frank Gehry, Paloma Picasso, Jean Schlumberger, and Elsa Peretti also feature the designers’ signatures on the jewelry.
With antique and vintage pieces, French brand Cartier had to adhere to several guidelines set forth by the French government.
“Hallmarks tell the story of the piece, and usually what country the item came from, as well as the artist and date made.” The date letter stamp, a requirement for British jewelry until 1999, is useful to know if you need to date a piece of vintage or retro jewelry.
Silver pieces imprinted with a lion denotes 92.5 percent silver — thus sterling silver — while the Britannia mark means that it has 95.8 percent pure silver.
Retro jewelry refers to pieces made during the 1940s and 1950s and are characterized by the use of large and colorful gemstones.
In the United States, the National Gold and Silver Stamping Act of 1906 required jewelers to include an accurate purity mark, which indicates the materials used in a given work.
Since gold, silver, and branded jewelry are highly sought-after, encountering counterfeit jewelry is always a risk that collectors need to keep in mind.