Yes thats right 95% of the items currently on sale in the UK that have a British Hallmark WERE ACTUALLY MADE IN ASIA.
A very sorry fact but unfortunately its true.
When you buy one of our hallmarked silver products that has our own "Made in Britain" Tudor Rose emblem displayed on the picture you will be buying an authentic British made quality product that will also have a full UK hallmark including the optional lion and date letter as shown below.
Why doesnt this apply to all hallmarked silver products for sale in the UK?
Although this was once the case this is no longer true. The item in question could have been made anywhere in the world and then imported into the UK and hallmarked at a UK assay office. Under current hallmarking legislation there is nothing to distinguish an imported product from one that has been made in the UK by a British manufacturer. Furthermore the UK Jewellery Industry that is now predominated by importers is one of the few industries that does not display a country of origin on its imported products.
You must be joking!
We are sorry, but we are not. The British hallmarking system has been hijacked and is getting worse. As a British manufacturer we are appalled at the way the British hallmark has been abused, manipulated and devalued over the last 30 years by importers, and more surprisingly some or all of the UK Assay offices in conjunction with the British Hallmarking Council the very organisations in whom we place our trust to oversee, uphold and protect the hallmarking system.
We as a British silver manufacturer feel that the public have been, and are still being misled about the current hallmarking situation and we consider the devaluing of the British hallmark to be a major problem not just for UK manufacturers but more importantly for you the consumer. Many of you have been duped into believing that an item has been made in Britain because it has a British hallmark. If you show an item with a British hallmark to 10 different people 9 out of 10 of them will assume that the item has been made in Britain because of the British hallmark.
SO! What has happened?
The problem originated in the 1980's when the volume of cheap imports entering the UK from Asia and South America started to increase.
Prior to 1999 If an article was imported into the UK and submitted for hallmarking it was required to have an import mark struck on it. Each assay office had its own import mark as part of the hallmark and an example of one from Birmingham assay office is shown below.
This "IMPORT" mark allowed the public to distinguish between items that had been made in the UK from those that had been imported and thereby make an informed choice about which product they wished to purchase. They could choose between buying a British made product or one that had been made in a third world country possibly in a back street sweat shop with appalling working conditions and little or no regard for any health and safety rules.
During the late 1980’s and 1990's huge quantities of imported items started to appear for sale on our high streets but many of these items were not displaying an import mark as required by UK law. A large percentage of these items were also re-exported to countries such as the USA now wearing the "Made in Britain Hallmark."
Importers wanted to take advantage of the “kudos” of the English hallmark. The UK hallmark makes an item far more desirable and merchantable so instead of declaring their items as IMPORTED when they were submitted for hallmarking as required by the then UK law the importers were falsely declaring the items as "MADE IN THE UK." A picture of what a full UK hallmark looked like prior to 1999 is shown below.
XXXXXXX PICTURE NUMBER 6
The imported items now sporting a full UK hallmark were also being described by wholesalers as “Made in Britain” and during the years prior to 1999 Birmingham assay office which is the office that we have always used for our own hallmarking requirements were allowing importers to declare these imported items as “MADE IN THE UK” and subsequently hallmarked the said items with full UK hallmarks.
We complained to Birmingham Assay office as did other UK manufacturers about this flagrant abuse of the hallmarking system for several years but nothing was done to stop it. The practise much to the annoyance of the UK manufacturers that had complained was allowed to continue unchecked for a number of years. We have never been certain why this breach of the hallmarking legislation was allowed but eventually the Birmingham Assay office stated that the matter was on the agenda for discussion at a meeting of The British Hallmarking Council.
The British Hallmarking Council meeting took place and afterwards we were informed by Birmingham assay office that a guideline ruling had been made which read something like this,
“IF AN ITEM IS WIPED WITH A CLOTH AFTER IT HAS BEEN HALLMARKED THEN AS FAR AS THE HALLMARKING COUNCIL IS CONCERNED THE ITEM CAN BE DESCRIBED AS MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN.”
This statement became a forerunner to the British Hallmarking Councils intention, (Which was under the ministerial control of the department of Weights and Measures at the time) to seemingly - do everything possible to help importers with little or no regard for UK manufacturers. The knock on effect within our industry has cost many hundreds if not thousands of manufacturing jobs in the UK.
What are we left with
The import mark was eventually discontinued in 1999 at the behest of importers. Prior to this the famous “makers mark” had already been replaced by a SPONSORS mark.
A "sponsor" is usually an importer or wholesaler that does not manufacture but just buys and sells. At the end of 1999 the hallmark was revamped and the date letter became a non-compulsory mark, as did the famous Rampant lion which had been the British symbol that denoted sterling silver for over 300 years. Below are two pictures showing the layout of the old style hallmark pre 1999 and the new style statutory hallmarks for Sterling Silver.
XXXXXTWO PICTURES SHOWING THE DIFFERENCEXXXX NUMBER 6 and Number 7 side by side with gap in middle
Can the current hallmarking system get any worse?
Unfortunately yes it can and it already has!
Further legislation was changed in 2013 to allow UK assay offices to mark away from the main assay office and this legislation also included the right to mark offshore. I.E. Overseas. The new legislation stated quite clearly when discussed in both The House of Commons and The House of Lords that the marks used "WILL BE CLEARLY DISTINGUISHABLE FROM THE EXISTING DOMESTICALLY STRUCK MARKS." It was left to The British Hallmarking Council to oversee and to "MAKE CLEAR THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE TWO SETS OF MARKS.
Sheffield assay office then opened a hallmarking facility in Milan and used the Sheffield town mark of a rose on items marked there. The Birmingham assay office which has already opened several “pop up” sub assay offices within their larger import customers own premises has now announced that they are going to open an assay office in Mumbai, India in July 2016 to enable importers to have their work marked at point of manufacture.---- AND STILL USE THE FAMOUS BIRMINGHAM ANCHOR HALLMARK ON ITEMS MARKED THERE. Apparently and quite amazingly a Birmingham assay office spokewoman pompously announced on TV in march of this year that the famous anchor mark that has a 300 year history with the City has got absolutey nothing to do with Birmingham?
Yes that's right.
Birmingham assay office are opening an assay office in Mumbai India and an item made in Asia will be hallmarked in Mumbai, India in exactly the same way as if it had been hallmarked in Birmingham, UK. AND YOU THE CONSUMER WILL NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE. This is in total contradiction to the legislation that was discussed in both Parliament and by The House of Lords that stated quite clearly that offshore hallmarks should be clearly distinguishable?
Our promise to you is this.
All the products that we manufacture that make up around 70% of the items for sale on this website proudly display our own AJP makers mark and we always include a date letter and the British Lion denoting Sterling Silver on all our UK made products
Approximately 25% of the products that are for sale on our website are carefully chosen from other UK manufacturers that we know and trust and these products proudly display their own makers marks.
Sadly even we sell a few imported products on this website. UK law requires that these products have a basic UK hallmark so we adhere to this law. What we have never done and would never do is describe these items as being MADE IN BRITAIN. Because of this a
ll the products on our website that have been Made in Britain will display our Tudor Rose "MADE IN BRITAIN" logo displayed next to them on the picture. If a product does not have the Tudor rose logo it will be of very good quality or we wouldnt sell it but it will have been made abroad.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX PICTURE OF TUDOR ROSE LOGO
Your feedback and opinions are extremely valuable to us and we would like you to share your views on what is left of the British hallmarking system so please feel free to drop us an email. A recent independant survey has found that????????????? If you are thinking of buying a hallmarked item and are not sure of the origin of it or suspect someone is trying to pass off an item as being British made when it is not we will impartially offer our advice if asked to do so.