A jewellers loupe. This is a type of hand-held powerful british gold hallmarks glass. Aim for between 20x to 30x magnification — any higher and the hallmark starts to distort and blur. A proper British hallmarks book. Staff Profiles Distinguishing antique hallmarks When it comes to antique hallmarks found on precious metal works made in the UK, it is important to understand the difference between antique hallmarks and maker's marks. A maker's mark might be part of the antique hallmark, but that isn't always the case. It is fairly easy to understand antique hallmarks, once you understand the British system of hallmarking. While antique hallmarks might seem quite complex, once you decipher the meanings of antique hallmarks, you can learn a lot about the origins and age of particular antique pieces, which can be helpful for collectors.
Most jewellers alloy precious metals with other metals, to give the piece more durability, to make it easier to work with, and to make it more wearable. However, because of this practice, it is required in some countries to mark jewellery with the percentage of precious metal present. In fact, the UK has some of the strictest hallmarking laws.