Katherine Lawrie Jewellery

Designer & Maker

Tag: West Sussex

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:

Gemstones in rainbow of colours

Birthstones, meaning a particular gemstone for each month of the year, have been in existence for many years. Many think that its marketing hype. Many believe deeply that one should adhere to the allotted stone for your birth month. When you start to look, many different stones are assigned to one month or one sign of the zodiac.

I love the notion that a specific gem stone signifies different spiritual powers and could enhances the wearers life in some way.

In this blog I have studied twelve gemstones in particular. Depending on what you read, you may come across other gem stones to represent the month in which you were born.

Raven Pendant with Garnet

Raven with Garnet moon pendant. Prices from £150

January

Garnet: The name is derives from granatum, which means seed, in this instance the red juicy seed of a pomegranate. Garnets are thought to keep travellers safe when travelling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amethyst Ring prices from £160

Amethyst Ring prices from £160

February

Amethyst: The name derives from the word methustos which roughly translates to the word intoxicated. Amethysts are thought to aid sobriety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aquamarine ring. Prices from £160

Aquamarine ring. Prices from £160

March

Aquamarine: The name derives from aqua meaning water and marina meaning sea. Aquamarines are thought to protect those at sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diamond Ring prices from £220

Diamond Ring prices from £220

April

Diamond: The name derives from adamas meaning unbreakable, proper or unalterable. Diamonds are thought to be a symbol for ever lasting love and courage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerald cluster pendants with heart and flower. Prices from £180

Emerald cluster pendants with heart and flower. Prices from £180

May

Emerald: The name derives from the word smaragdos which translates to the word green. Emeralds are thought to symbolise wisdom, growth and patience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearl bracelets with handmade silver beads. Prices from £80

Pearl bracelets with handmade silver beads. Prices from £80

June

Pearl: The name derives from perle which means leg, it is thought this because of the ham or mutton leg looking shape of the bivalve the pearls can be found in. Pearls are thought to symbolise purity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Folksy ruby ring with tulip design, Prices from £180

Folksy ruby ring with tulip design, Prices from £180

July

Ruby: The name derives from the latin word for red, rubeus. Rubies are thought to protect the wearer from evil and symbolised love and passion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jenny wren closed bangle

Jenny wren closed bangle, prices from £180

August

Peridot: The names derives from the either the Greek word peridona which means giving plenty or the Arabic word faridat meaning gem. Peridots are thought to protect the wearer from nightmares.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sapphire set in 18ct Gold. Prices from £250.

Sapphire set in 18ct Gold. Prices from £250.

September

Sapphire: The name derives from the Latin word sapphirus meaning blue stone. Sapphires are thought to impart purity and wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star gazing golden hare with opal pendant

Star gazing golden hare with opal pendant. Prices from £220

October

Opal: The name derives from the Greek word opallis which means to see a change in colour. Opals are thought to repel evil and protect the wearers eyesight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bramber & Knepp Castle pendants

Bramber & Knepp Castle pendants. Prices from £150

November

Citrine: The name derives from the French word for lemon, citron. Citrines are thought to stimulate mental power and helps focus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turquoise ring. Prices from £180

Turquoise ring. Prices from £180

December

Turquoise: The name derives from the French for Turkish, Turquois. Turquoise is said to instil good future, success, to relax the mind.

As any of my students will tell you I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to original design. I accept that learning can come from imitating work by others. However, I feel that this can be a slippery slope. Once you learn to gain inspiration from someone else you become reliant on that being your source. I also acknowledge work may well be influenced by work of others as we are all swayed by fashion, trend and current styles.

I insist that learning a new craft should involve, learning to design too. This is not an easy skill, but once learnt becomes habitual. This skill cannot happen without input. Its a complex process that isn’t replicated in ‘normal’ life, and is not taught as a linear process. It’s almost learnt by osmosis at Art College.

Everyone’s design process is different. And many do, just think of a design and then make it! Others lean on their skills and process of technique to design. In my own work, I can’t help but be inspired by the area I live in, the countryside that surrounds my studio and the wildlife that lives there.

I recently joined my friend, Artist, Sarah Duffield on a walk around the Knepp Castle Estate, which is going to be featured in one of her paintings for a commission she has as part of Horsham Districts Year of Culture 2019.

 

I am inspired by a walk like this, but it also confirms ideas too.

During this walk I decided I will extend my local land marks range this year, which already includes Chanctonbury Ring. Adding the old Castle at Knepp, and the remains at Bramber Castle too. Can you think of any other icons I could add?