hibernia hallmark applied to validate value of gold in Ireland

The Value of Gold

Throughout history and throughout the world, gold has enjoyed emotional, cultural and financial value. It has been treasured for its natural beauty and radiance, with many cultures, for example, revering it for its representation of the sun. 

Let’s look at why exactly gold is so valuable.

Ancient Roman Jewellery   

  1. Gold as symbol of status and success. Gold has always been an indicator of wealth and power and has been crafted into wearable pieces of art for millennia. Just check out what the Egyptians, Romans and even our very own Celts did with gold in jewellery.

  2. Gold is used in technology. 10% of gold in the market is used in technology - think computer chips. This is where its high melting point comes into play. It’s safe to use in this way.

  3. It has long been used with a fiscal purpose. Whether it was Julius Caesar paying his troops in gold after their successful pillage of Gaul, or its use in the Gold Standard system, which helped countries define and stabilise their currencies by fixing the value of their currencies in terms of a specified amount of gold. Today, plenty of people approach gold as an investment asset - it acts as a diversifier in one’s investment portfolio and a  vehicle to mitigate losses in times of market stress. So things a country’s instability or for instance a war, like that in Ukraine at present, have an immediate impact on the the price of gold. There is simply more demand on it as a stable asset.
  4. Gold is scarce. It is said that if you were to collect together every wedding ring, earring, every gold sovereign, the tiny traces of gold in every computer chip, every pre-Columbian statuette and melt it down, it's guesstimated that you'd be left with just one 20-metre cube, or thereabouts.

 

So you’re getting the strong impression that gold is valuable, right?!

Gold Ring of Sekhmet, ancient Egyptian, New Kingdom, about 1539–1077 BCE, gold, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection,

Pure gold vs gold carats?

So let’s get things straight - when it’s mined gold, in its purest form, is 24 carat gold. 

But in order to work gold into jewellery, make it more durable, stronger and affect its colour, we mix it with other metals creating an alloy. Higher-carat gold is soft and pliable but retains a richer colour; lower-carat gold, on the other hand, is harder and more durable (though still more malleable than many other metals) but is a bit paler in colour.

How to tell how much gold is in your jewellery.

This is where hallmarking comes in. Not only can you tell how precious a piece of jewellery, but hallmarking is a form of consumer protection. 

Hallmarking was originally established in Ireland in 1647 to protect the public from fraud when  buying articles of gold, silver and platinum and this purpose still remains today. It is carried out by the Assay Office in Dublin Castle and they require a minimum standard of fineness for the quality of gold, silver and platinum used in manufacture. If a piece doesn’t meet these standards, it is destroyed. Like seriously - they take a Hammer to it and SMASH it!

It is illegal to sell something as “sterling silver”, for example, without a hallmark. So if you value your hard earned cash, don’t buy it folks!

A hallmark will comprise of a minimum of three compulsory symbols in Ireland:

1. Makers or Sponsors Mark - mine is ‘VM’

2. Assay Office Mark (Hibernia).

3. Metal & Fineness (Purity) Mark. 

So a piece of Vanessa Ree jewellery in 18ct gold would include the following symbols:

VM Hiberna assay mark 750

Here’s a simple guide to help you.

Metal in carat

Symbol of Fineness

Sterling Silver

925

9ct Gold

375

18ct Gold

750

22ct Gold

916

 

Before buying a piece of jewellery you should examine the piece to see there is an official hallmark - with all these three marks.

 

Unfortunately, at present there is no hallmark to confirm a piece is actually made in Ireland. It is purely a way of confirming the value of the metal.

But when it comes to buying gold jewellery, in particular because it has always been so valuable, make sure it is properly hallmarked.

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