Guidance on description, hallmarking and marking of bonded gold
Ever increasing gold prices are driving significant changes in the UK fine jewellery trade, one such trend being the introduction of ‘bonded gold’ and an increase in gold plated and rolled gold products coming to market. ‘Bonded gold’ items are produced with a thick layer of gold alloy “bonded” on to a base metal or sterling silver core. The resulting article is only approximately 10% gold alloy by weight on average, but could be easily mistaken as an all-gold item by the consumer or the retailer.
The Hallmarking Act does allow the terms ‘gold plated’ and ‘rolled gold’. Nevertheless the British Hallmarking Council (BHC) is of the view that ‘bonded gold’ is very similar to ‘rolled gold’ and would have been allowed by the Hallmarking Act in 1973 had the process been invented when the statute was drafted. In the circumstances, the Hallmarking Act 1973 is outdated and the BHC therefore concluded that use of the description ‘bonded gold’ should not be the subject of any enforcement action and could be used in the same way as the permitted descriptions of articles as ‘rolled gold’ or ‘gold plated’. The ‘bonded gold’ layer must be of fineness of at least 375 parts per thousand and of a fineness recognised in the UK.
Other than the silver hallmark or a 925 stamp on underweight items, no other standalone gold fineness marks are permitted on the bonded gold articles because they are potentially confusing. It is not permitted to mark the article 9k, 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, nor can the article be marked 375, 416, 585, 750 etc. A gold fineness mark (not hallmark) is allowed if it includes the words ‘bonded gold’, ‘rolled gold’ or ‘gold plated’. This guidance applies to all bonded gold, rolled gold and gold plated silver articles below the 7.78g exemption weight for hallmarking, as well as for those requiring hallmarking.
Source: The Leopard - 1st May 2012