Hallmark hopes rise

Ashley Carson Assay Master
Ashley Carson Assay Master
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Hopes are rising of saving what could be Britain’s longest established forms of consumer protection from abolition in a Government campaign to slash red tape.

The future of hallmarking, which guarantees the purity of products made from precious metals, has been called into doubt by the Government’s Red Tape Challenge.

The threat to Hallmarking has been described as “bizarre” by Ashley Carson, Assay Master at the Hillsborough-based Sheffield Assay Office, which was founded in 1773.

Now, it is increasingly looking as though hallmarking will be saved, after Government minister Baroness Wilcox described the threat to hallmarking as “a misapprehension,” when answering questions on the subject in the House of Lords.

Baroness Wilcox revealed that more than 5,000 people had contacted the Government through its Red Tape Challenge website, saying how much in favour they were of keeping hallmarking.

That is thought to be well over twice the number who commented on the next most controversial suggestion – scrapping or relaxing regulations on Sunday trading – and way ahead of the handful of responses to comments on other retail regulations.

Baroness Wilcox told the House of Lords: “When I chaired the National Consumer Council, there was quite a lot of pressure from the European Union for British hallmarking to be considered unnecessary, but it is something that we hold dear.

“Certainly, from the responses that we have had in support of hallmarking it can be seen that the general public hold it very dear.”

The discussion over the future of hallmarking has come at a time when hallmarking’s biggest European opponent, Italy, is wanting to join the European International Hallmarking Convention.

It also comes not long after test purchases undertaken by the Jewellers Vigilance Association in the US, which has no hallmarking law, showed 60 per cent of everything they purchased failed to be of the quality it was claimed to be.