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Critics of offshore stamping – currently practised by a sub-division of the Birmingham Assay Office in Mumbai – say it threatens the oldest form of consumer protection.

John Langford of the British Hallmarking Protection Alliance said: “The antiques trade should make their views known in no uncertain terms, or we are looking at the end of 700 years of hallmarking history.”

The consultation, posted on the UK government website last week, is seeking views into “whether hallmarks applied by UK Assay Offices overseas should be different from hallmarks applied in the UK”.

Responses will “inform the decisions taken in respect of hallmarks used offshore and the guidance we will produce for the trade and consumers”.

Birmingham Assay Office has said it operates the Mumbai office with the same rules, regulations and controls as required in the UK.

Anyone wishing to participate in the consultation should visit gov.uk.