The combination of symbols and letters stamped on precious metals has served as a visual code for assayers who have been tasked with preventing fraud by goldsmiths for more than 700 years.
Hallmarks remain a guarantee to both the trade and consumers that the piece of silver or jewellery they hold in their hand has been independently tested, and is what it says it is.
And along with this guarantee of quality and fineness, every hallmark has a story to tell: a story about the person or company who made it, the town it was assayed in, the year it was hallmarked, or an occasion so special that it requires a mark of its own.
While hallmarking has been integral to the work of UK goldsmiths since 1300, commemorative marks are a relatively recent part of the hallmark’s history, with the first one being introduced to celebrate the silver jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary in 1935.
This voluntary mark was proposed by goldsmithing trade associations who recognised that the public, as well as seeing the hallmark on their silver or jewellery as a guarantee of quality, also used it to celebrate important moments in their own lives.
Its popularity led to further commemorative marks: for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953; for the silver jubilee in 1977; for the Millennium in 2000; for the golden jubilee in 2002; for the diamond jubilee in 2012, and the platinum jubilee in 2022.
The queen’s remarkable 70 years of service and the fact that she is the first British monarch to reach this milestone is undoubtedly such an occasion.
Designed by Thomas Fattorini, the platinum jubilee mark conveys lots of information in a simple, elegant design: an orb (suggesting royalty and the traditional mark for platinum) containing the queen’s initials over 70.
The Goldsmiths’ Company has a number of pieces commissioned to commemorate royal celebrations.
A selection of these follows (and pictured above), each celebrating an important event within Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, and (nearly) all of them bear the corresponding commemorative mark (the exception being Rod Kelly’s diamond jubilee rosewater dish, commissioned in 2012 and presented to Queen Elizabeth II in 2015).