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Palladium Hallmark

Palladium hallmarks are a relatively new addition to the precious metal hallmark group. Palladium has experienced a surge in demand in the past decade, with prices rising accordingly. A hallmark is applied because precious metals, such as Palladium, are soft and would become easily damaged if used in pure form. Without knowing exactly how much pure palladium an item contains, it is difficult to arrive at its true value. Palladium hallmarks, issued by assay offices, give a true and impartial proof of how much palladium can be found in an item.

In the UK, hallmarks have long been compulsory on gold and silver. They became compulsory on platinum items in 1975, and palladium was included after January 2010. Hallmarks are a UK legal requirement on all articles containing precious metals. This now applies to any palladium article over one gram; for platinum it is items over half a gram, for gold 1 gram and 7.78 grams for silver.

Chart showing the various palladium hallmarks.

Palladium 500 and 950

Hallmarks show purity as a fineness number. This is a measure of purity as parts per thousand; where 999.999 is the purest precious metal. Three standards of fineness marks are recognised for palladium hallmarks. They are 500 (50% pure), 950 (95% pure), plus 999 (99.9% pure) for ‘pure palladium’.

Palladium of 500 fineness is harder than 950, and more suitable for intricate items. These would include diamond rings with complex designs. Softer palladium – 950 fineness – is more suitable for plain items such as wedding bands or wedding rings. It is often called simply 95 palladium. It is also common to rhodium-plate both platinum and palladium rings to further strengthen them.

There are two systems of hallmarking recognised in the UK. The – more common – British system, and the International Convention on the Control and Marking of Articles of Precious Metals. These hallmarks are better known as Convention Marks.

UK hallmarking requirements
Traditionally, UK hallmarks consisted of four separate marks. Today, under the current Hallmarking Act, the date mark may be omitted. The essential remaining three are: the ‘sponsor’, ‘standard’ and ‘assay office’ mark.

UK palladium and other precious metal hallmarks. .

The ‘sponsor’ mark shows who sent the item for assaying, this is generally the manufacturer or importer. The ‘standard’ mark shows the purity or fineness of the metal, and the ‘assay office’ mark shows the assayer.

Marks may also include International Convention marks, Commemorative marks for special occasions, and older traditional Marks.

Convention Marks
In 1972 the UK joined the International Convention on Hallmarks. The Convention introduced standard hallmarks recognised in nineteen nations. The major distinguishing feature of the marks are a weighing scale design which surrounds the fineness figures.

The Convention marks for fineness are contained in different shapes for each precious metal. The international palladium hallmark is a five sided (pentagonal) shape with a curved base. In the UK, each number is instead surrounded by a circle.

After 1972, both the traditional British marks and the Convention marks are accepted hallmarks in the UK.

UK palladium hallmarks before and after 2010.

UK palladium hallmarks

Before January 2010 it was not compulsory to hallmark palladium. In the UK many articles were, by British convention, voluntarily hallmarked with the fineness number contained in a trapezium. After this date, when marking became compulsory, the trapezium was changed to three ovals for the UK. The change in shape was made to more clearly differentiate it from the shape of platinum hallmarks.

Palladium items made before 2010, may either be marked with a trapezium, three ovals, the international pentagon, or possibly have no marks whatsoever!