Katherine Lawrie Jewellery

Designer & Maker

Tag: handmadeinsussex

The History Of Hallmarking
The concept of Hallmarking itself dates back to Byzantine times, but wasn’t noticeable until the 1300s in the UK. King Edward l put a law in place requiring the testing of silver to ensure that the alloys being used were up to correct standards. He designated particular experts to be guardians of the craft. They would visit craft workers in their studios to do the testing. They were then responsible for testing work to verify that the silver had a silver content of at least 92.5%. Once this was ascertained the work was then stamped with a Leopard’s head. London assay office still use that symbol today since they adopted it in 1544.
Leopard's Head hallmark
King Edward III granted a royal charter to the Goldsmith’s Company, formally known as the Worshipful Company of Goldsmith’s in 1327, which allowed them to become a company. Which was then run out of Goldsmith’s Hall, which can be found in the City of London.
This is thought to be where the phrase Hallmark was born, but was not officially recorded as a term until 1721, gaining popularity in 1864 when it officially denoted quality. We can still offer that reassurance today.
What is Hallmarking?
The term Hallmarking describes the practice of stamping or ‘marking’ a piece of precious metal so the owner or purchaser knows what a piece of jewellery or metal ware is made of. This mark gives a piece of work authenticity. British Hallmarking regulations are quite stringent, meaning that if one wishes to sell a piece of jewellery or something made of precious metal it must bare a hallmark.
Image shows the punch being struck to apply hallmark
There are several ‘assay’ offices in the UK, generally makers would send their work off to the one most local to them. However, in recent years this has changed as you can use any assay office in the country. The assay office is the place where the work goes off to be assayed or tested for fineness. This can be done by a scrape test or a the use of an X-ray machine.
The Marks
Image shows the five traditional marks currently used The image shows the five traditional marks that my work bears. The Sponsor’s Mark is special to each maker, as only they have it. The Standard mark tells you the alloy your item is made of. The Fineness mark is a traditional mark which also tells you the fineness, or alloy of the metal. Each UK assay office holds it own stamp, as mentioned previously London has the Leopard, Birmingham the anchor, Sheffield the rose, and Edinburgh a castle. The each year has a corresponding letter. 2019’s letter is u.
Everyone selling precious metals should have this sign on display:

Memorial Jewellery

Jewellery made in memory.

Jewellery has contained symbolism and has been part of the rituals in life for as far back as history has been recorded.

Angels wings

Adornments and jewellery have been used to represent and remember those who have died.

The ancient Egyptians valued personal adornment highly. The deceased were adorned for their send off into the afterlife. The symbols within these adornments were equally important to those alive and in memory for those who had died. The rarer the gemstones and materials the better, as this was a sign of great wealth and success. Gemstones where carved to emulate symbolic forms like scarab beetles which conveyed renewal, regeneration and endurance of the soul. Snakes were used as a representation of spirit guardians and the spirit, and also a symbol of ever lasting love.

Memento Mori jewellery (16th-18th Century) was created to remind us of the inevitability of death. This often contained skulls, coffins and skeletons, and were often worn in remembrance. Also the wearing of such jewellery would be regarded as a kind of talisman and was worn as protection and a constant reminder.

This idea has been modernised in line with contemporary life. One can now have jewellery made containing your loved ones ashes, and even have their remains made into diamonds.

It is possible that a jewellery was comparable to a photograph in todays society. To commission a painting may well have been too costly where as a token piece of jewellery might have been a more achievable price.

In present times we think of the Victorians being most noted for their mourning jewellery. White enamel would represent a single person, black a wife or husband and the use of pearls in a piece of mourning jewellery represented the death of a child. Inscriptions were often included in these pieces of jewellery.  The mourning period during Victorians times had strict rules and etiquette. Both women and men wore mourning jewellery.

Different stages of mourning were represented by different colours. After a period of time the mourner could progress to colours other than black or white. The colours of Blue, Grey and Purple would have been reflected in the jewellery that was worn.

Often money was left in a will for the purpose of creating morning rings for specified list of mourners. Jewellery often contained a piece of the relatives hair.

I have had the honour of making several pieces of jewellery which were commissioned in memory of someone who had died.

turquoise

Turquoise is know as a stone of protection.