The value of jewellery depends on a number of things, including who made the jewellery, the type of metal the jewellery is made from and the date of the jewellery. The law concerning jewellery trademark varies from country to country and has changed within countries over time. Certain principals will help you identify jewellery stamps and trademarks to determine the value of your jewellery.
Examine the jewellery to locate any and all type of stamps. Use a jeweller's loupe that magnifies at least ten times to examine the detail of all found marks.
Check the mark(s) from different directions to be sure your are not viewing it upside-down.
Determine the number of stamps on the jewellery. There are four types of stamps to look for on jewellery: (1) purity mark; (2) maker's mark; (3) dateletter; and (4) town mark.
Evaluate the purity mark. Jewellery marked in a country that has a legally mandated hallmarking system usually has both a purity mark and a maker's mark. The purity mark indicates the purity of the gold or silver. Most countries today (including the United States) require a purity mark for gold and silver.
Evaluate the maker's mark because it indicates who made the jewellery. The makers’ mark is the equivalent of a signature. The law in some European countries dictates that jewellery makers include both purity and makers’ marks on all gold and silver jewellery. The United States does not require or regulate the signatures or marks stamped on jewellery, whether fine or custom, apart from the typical trademark protections offered by U.S. intellectual property laws.
Check to see if the jewellery has a dateletter. The presence of a dateletter can help narrow down both the date the item was made and where it was made. Jewellery produced in England after 1478 was stamped with a dateletter, indicating the date the gold or silver jewellery was assayed by the government at the Goldsmith's Hall in London. Dateletters are rarely found on delicate jewellery produced in England if there is no room for a full set of marks.
Check to see if the jewellery has a town mark. Jewellery assayed in countries with more than one office included a town mark to indicate the office of assay. For example, the assay mark of Birmingham, England (currently the largest assay office in the world) is an anchor.
Compare the marks to those of known makers. To narrow down your search, seek out a book or website that concentrates on similar jewellery. For example, if you are examining the origins of a sterling silver pin, seek out a source that looks at sterling silver jewellery from the same country and time period based on the clues you found looking at the stamps on your jewellery.
This article is intended as an overview and is not intended to give specific legal or business advice. Your facts and circumstances may change the legal, business and valuation analysis. See an attorney to see how the law applies to you and consult a professional appraiser to verify the value of your jewellery.