1999 - International Hallmarking - Pipe Dream or Possibility?

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1999 - International Hallmarking - Pipe Dream or Possibility?

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A survey of international hallmarking confirms that it is in some disarray with, outside the mainly European-based Vienna Convention countries, only local mutual acceptance agreements existing that may or may not be based on sound quality principles. This predominance of local hallmarking systems and standards of fineness inhibits the growth of a truly international jewelry market. On the other hand, the efforts of the Technical Committees of the International and European Standards Organizations, ISO and CEN, have enabled agreement to be reached on a wide range of matters including standards of fineness and methods of assay. While further agreement on some outstanding details is required, we have probably made more progress than that achieved in the area of hallmarking. Yet the requirement that gold, silver or platinum jewelry contains the claimed amount of that precious metal remains prime but is probably the most abused aspect except where rigorous hallmarking systems are in force. Effective though these systems are, they impose many constraints and difficulties on the manufacturer and importer. This paper reviews the current status of international hallmarking and the options for a more open but credible system, some of which are enshrined in the proposed EU Hallmarking Directive. Ultimately, however, any system must ensure that fineness marks are accurate while minimizing the difficulties that manufacturers and importers face in conforming to it.

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