Hallmarking – this idiot managed it.
So, I’ve sent off and received back my first batch of hallmarking. Here’s what I have learned.
Most importantly it’s that it’s made me ridiculously happy, and it was far less of a palaver and expense than I expected. Secondly, even though I thought I’d understood the costs, I hadn’t quite.
I have my hallmark registered with the London Assay office and their charges are displayed in a way I found rather complex. Eventually I broke it down to the basic charge per packet and decided I’d send just the one packet* filling it with as many pieces as I could.
I need to post my stuff, and pay them to return it by post. This incurs a handling charge, in addition to the cost from Royal Mail for the postage.
Each packet containing 3 items or more has a basic charge
Each item (article) within the packet costs pound, in addition to the basic packet cost – cufflinks and earrings have to be marked on both pieces so that needs to be considered if you are including them
Each packet can have as many articles as you like*, and as each subsequent article only adds a pound to the overall cost – meaning the more you send, the more you save (bringing the cost per unit down) up to a point, I guess.
*Note that each packet can only contain one type of hallmarking. This means that if you want something struck, and something else laser marked – they have to go into two different packets. The same rule applies for the fineness – If I was sending fine silver, sterling silver and gold, I’d need 3 different packets, with each containing just the one metal type. Again, if I wanted the marks struck / lasered I’d need to split again. This could swiftly increase the unit rate.
You can do what I did, and include mixed metal pieces, asking that they mark them at the lowest level of fineness. Given most people don’t know (or really care) about the difference between 925 and 999 silver, I assembled my mixed silver pieces, and asked them to hallmark at the lower fineness of 925.
You can also include incomplete pieces (I have the awesome Joanne Tinley and my bootcamp from last year to thank for this bit of information) as long as you explain what’s going to happen with each piece, and include all and any metal you’ll be using in their completion. For example, I sent all my bangles without their gemstone droppers, but included a ziplock bag with 50 jumprings and 150 headpins plus some wire I’ll be using in a different incomplete item for them to test**
I sent off 27 pieces, and opted to insure them for the post (both ways) at £1000. They and my box came in at just over the 500g, but well within the next Royal Mail bracket of 1kg.
I used a standard small packet cardboard box, and packed my items as follows – textured and drilled bangle blanks taped to piece of card, with the ziplock containing my ‘extras’ taped to it, along with my bag containing my mixed fineness pieces. I rolled some loose link bracelets in tissue paper, and placed my bangles into further ziplock bags; one bag for each type of article. I then stuffed all this into a used jiffy bag and packed that into the centre of the box, with my printed docket on the top and bubble wrap either side.
**When the Assay office receives a bundle of metal to mark, they test it for it’s ‘fineness’ – ie the percentage and quality of the metal type – in my situation that is for them to check that my pieces are a minimum quality of 92.5% silver. If an item doesn’t pass, they have the power to seize it.
Cost £68.88, plus £9.60 postage to the Assay office, makes £78.48 total for Hallmarking 27 items.
Packet plus items = £18+£27 = £45 + £12.40 (postage at £9.15 – They must get a bulk discount from Royal Mail! and a £3.25 handling charge for them to repack my box)