Antique & Vintage Jewelry Hallmarks Identification (Guide)

Ever wondered about the small, unruly, and unique marks on vintage jewelry? Why do brands stamp these marks, despite the extra efforts of punching and etching? Is it just for labeling, or is there a bigger picture?

In 1906, the government stressed using hallmarks to track the purity of gold. So, brands came up with unique symbols as their purity marks. However, the hallmarking process had existed long before the 1900s. So let’s see how to identify such marks with jewelry’s brand and materials.

Key Takeaways

  • Vintage hallmarks help antique lovers identify the jewelry’s materials, purity, brands & makers in no time.
  • Antique jewelry has six types of hallmarks – Makers & Trademarks for the brand, Purity & Assay marks for the materials, and Date Letter & Duty marks for the age.
  • Pick vintage jewelry with a ‘Crown,’ ‘958,’ or ‘950’ mark for the top-most metal purity.
  • Most vintage jewelry brands use a ‘Maker’s name or Initials’ hallmark. But some precious ones have foreign import, French, or Baroque hallmarks, too!

Where Are the Hallmarks on Vintage Jewelry Sets?

If you want to verify your vintage jewelry, but don’t see the dates, check if there’s a hallmark on these spots:

  • Rings: The Inner band, Shank, or Shoulder
  • Necklaces: End clasp, Chain, or Pendant’s back
  • Bracelets: Clasps or Chain links
  • Earrings: Back of the earrings, Stem, Studs, or Inner part of the hoops
  • Brooches or Pins: Back or on the Safety chains
  • Watches: Found on the Case backs, Movements, or Lugs

When Did Vintage Hallmarks Evolve & How?

The first collectible hallmarks are from King Edward’s era in the 1300s. But even before that, some crude silver marks from 4th-century Egypt have been found. These were simple bar/line symbols, so people often mistook them for manufacturing defects.

Then, in the 1300s, Edward 1 introduced punching marks. Like, he used typical screwdrivers and chisels to emboss the jewelry. Also, they had a leopard or lion face to show their royalty. But then all the makers copied this mark, and there was confusion!

So, by the 1830s, each brand used a different hallmark. Yes, there were some common ones for gold, but all had different finishes. In fact, in 1906, the US enforced a compulsory hallmark act to control the metal’s purity. And makers use them even today!

6 Types of Vintage Hallmarks (Features & Uses)

Let’s check the main types of hallmarks and understand what they mean and how to identify them:

Vintage Hallmark TypeUses & SignificanceTop Identifying Features
Maker’s MarkSignifies the maker or brand with a small, etched logo or signInitials or the name of the designer or brand
Metal Content MarkUsed to tell the Type & Purity of the Metal & its ContentEmbossed numbers like 10k, 14k & 18k for Gold & 900 – 950 for Platinum
Assay MarkShows the last office where the jewelry was tested and markedLion’s Head (French Jewelry), Leopard’s Head (British)
Date LetterUsed to show the date, age, and years of any vintage jewelry pieceSmall, etched marks in a MM/DD/YYYY format
Duty MarksIndicates the duties & taxes on British & European jewelryStamped country initials like GB for Great Britain, USA for America & FD for France
TrademarksUsed to show the manufacturer’s, designer’s, or brand’s name & initialsStylized initials like ‘T’ for Tiffany & Co, ‘C’ for Cartier & ‘VA’ for Van Cleef & Arpels

Vintage Hallmarks List Based On 3 Primary Materials

Now, let’s check how makers tweaked the purity and stamp duty marks for different vintage jewelry materials:

1. Vintage Gold Hallmarks

You all must know the typical Gold 18k and 20k Purity marks. But, back in the 1800s, there were some regional European Lion heads or Dotted marks too! And such hallmarked gold ornaments value $50 – 5000 today. Also, the make was simple – engraved, etched, or embossed.

And here’s how to spot and identify such marks:

Vintage Gold Jewelry HallmarksEraHow to Identify? 
Lion Passant1700sLook for a stylized Lion mark with its head turned back to face the viewer
Crown Mark1700sStylized crown mark with three fleur-de-lis marks and etched numbers to indicate 24-karat Gold
Three Dot Marks1900sLook for an etched Circle with three dots and a 9-karat Gold mark inside
750 Stamp1900sA ‘750’ number stamp for 75% or 18k gold
585 Mark1900sAn etched ‘585’ stamp for 14-karat gold

Avoid getting vintage Gold jewelry with an HGE, GE, or GF hallmark, as those have a tiny amount of Gold.

2. Old Silver Jewelry Hallmarks

As you might guess, people used old Silver hallmarks to indicate the metal’s size and purity. So, each had punched or laser-cut numbers and words, and sometimes, the secondary alloys and their percentages, too. Overall, they value between $100 – 3000.

Vintage Silver Jewelry HallmarksPlace of OriginHow to Identify? 
800-markGermany, Egypt, Europe & Middle EastAn engraved ‘800’ number stamp for 80% pure Silver
925 or SterlingBritain & AmericaStamped Lion with a raised paw or ‘Sterling’ mark
958 markBritainStylized Britannia symbol or ‘958’ number stamps

3. Vintage Platinum Jewelry Hallmarks

These are small, numbered, pentagon-shaped marks that indicate the purity of Platinum jewelry. So, you might see melted, punched, or molded numbers and wax filigree work on them. And today, such hallmarked Platinum jewelry costs $3000 – 95,000.

Here’s an identification guide for such rare Platinum marks:

Old Platinum Jewelry HallmarksTrace MaterialsIdentification Features
900 PlatinumCopper, Palladium, Rhodium, Iridium, & TitaniumA ‘900’ number stamp for 90% pure Platinum
950 PlatinumCopper & CobaltWhite & Lustrous pentagonal stamps with the number ‘950’ in between

10 Vintage Jewelry Hallmarks Based on the Makers & Brands

The Stamping Act of 1906 made it compulsory for all makers to add their own hallmarks. So, some went with the logos, while the rest used their initials. Here are a few examples:

1. Old Tiffany & Co Hallmarks

Old Tiffany & Co. hallmarked jewelry is all about its brand and designer. So, you can expect etched company logos and creator signs on most of their pieces. Besides, these might have regular gold and silver marks on their inner rims.

Here are some of those:

Old ‘Tiffany & Co’ HallmarksHow to Spot Them?
‘Tiffany & Co’ Full name of the Company with an Engraved City / Location mark on the sides
‘T & Co.’Stamped ‘T & Co.’ abbreviations with a whitish finish
PT 950 or PLATEngraved ‘PLAT’ letters showing a 90% pure Platinum make
Designer Initials or SignsEngraved initials or signs of famous designers like Elsa Peretti, Paloma Picasso, or Atlas

2. Old Cartier Hallmarks

Does your vintage jewelry have a typical French-like or Eagle’s hallmark? If yes, then it might be a precious, hallmarked Cartier model! Such pieces have precisely engraved marks, often with diamonds or other gems around them. Here are some examples:

Old ‘Cartier’ HallmarksTop Identification Features
‘Cartier Paris’ HallmarkLook for the scripted words ‘Cartier Paris’ on the inside of the jewelry, usually on the clasp or bail
‘750 WG’ markStamped ‘750WG’ letters with an 18-karat White Gold finish
‘750S’ markEngraved digits with an 18-karat yellow gold & 10% Silver finish
French HallmarkUse simple ‘Eagle-head’ designs (for 18k Gold jewelry) & ‘Rooster or Winged’ forms (for Platinum)
Maker’s MarkStamped letters – ‘CK,’ ‘JC,’ ‘GK,’ or ‘LG’ with a yellow-gold finish

3. Antique Van Cleef & Arpels Hallmarks

If your vintage jewelry has an engraved ‘dog’ or ‘VA’ stamp, it might be from ‘Van Cleef & Arpels’. You can spot them by their almost ‘invisible’ settings, colored mosaics, and pearl backgrounds. Also, there might be some stamped numbers and figures.

Let’s check the details:

Vintage ‘Van Cleef & Arpels’ HallmarksEasy Identification Clues
‘VCA’ MarkBrand marks with the full ‘Van Cleef & Arpels’ or ‘VCA’ stamps & glass mosaics
French Hallmarks‘Eagles head’ for 18k Gold, and ‘Dog’s head’ for Platinum Jewelry
‘Vendome Column’ hallmarkA Stamped & Stylized mark of the ‘Vendome Column’ in Paris’ (1920 – 1950)

4. Old Harry Winston Hallmarks

Vintage Harry Winston jewelry highlights the brand name or its initials. So, you can expect engraved brand names or ‘HW’ initials on their sides. Plus, you’ll find all other precious gems – Sapphires, Rubies, Diamonds, and Emeralds around them.

5. Vintage David Webb Hallmarks

Danier Webb promotes stylized, Baroque-script hallmarked jewelry – rings, necklaces, and brooches! But it’s not just the brand name. Here are some more hallmarks that you can check out:

Antique ‘David Webb’ HallmarksHow to Identify? 
David Webb’s Signature markStylized, full company brand name in a Cartouche or Oval shape
Baroque HallmarkIt uses a stamped, stylized image of the famous ‘Baroque Pearl’

6. Antique Georg Jensen Hallmarks

You can spot vintage Georg Jensen hallmarks by their script letters and dotted ovals. Most will also have 14 or 18-carat gold marks, but the 1920s models might have an engraved Crown at the top!

Let’s check the details below:

Antique ‘Georg Jensen’ HallmarksHow to Identify? 
GI or GJ marksBold & Capital GI or GJ marks inside a square or dotted oval
Designer MarksSigned & Engraved designer names – HK (for Henning Kopel) & AJ (for Arne Jacobsen)

7. Bulgari Hallmarks

Bulgari is an Italian brand. So, most of its hallmarks use the Latin word ‘BVLGARI’ instead of Bulgari. Other than that, you might see some specific ‘Made in Italy’ marks & a White Gold Finish for specific collections.

8. Vintage Chanel Hallmarks

Since Chanel is a relatively new 1910s brand, it has proper branding! So, most of its jewelry features a C-C logo with a copyright (©) next to it. Also, some earlier 18k gold jewelry has a ‘Made in France’ stamp or oval plate.

9. Old Christian Dior Hallmarks

Founded in 1947, old and imported Christian Dior jewelry uses a simple, engraved ‘CD’ or ‘Chr.Dior’ mark. Besides that, you might see an Oval or Cartouche plate and a ‘Made in France’ stamp next to it.

10. Vintage Trifari Jewelry

A 1918 brand, Tifari uses high-gloss Gold or Sterling Silver hallmarks as follows:

Old ‘Trifari’ HallmarksTop Identification Features
Crown Trifari (1930 – 1950)Uses a simple, etched Hallmark with a stylized Crown above the ‘T’ in Trifari
Designers markEngraved KTF (short for Krussman & Fishel) letters with a high gloss finish
Trifari Date HallmarkScript, typeface hallmarks with stamped names or patent numbers next to them

Is Antique Gold Jewelry Stamped? 

Yes, antique gold jewelry has some numerical marks like ‘750’ or ‘585’ and digital ones like ‘Lion Passant,’ ‘Crown,’ and ‘3 – Dots’ since the 1700s.

Is Antique Silver Jewelry Stamped? 

Yes, vintage Silver jewelry has specialized ‘900,’ ‘958,’ or ‘925’ marks that indicate the metal’s purity and place of origin.

What Does a 625 Hallmark Mean on a Piece of Vintage Jewelry? 

‘625’ is a small, numerical hallmark used for 62.5% or 15-karat Gold jewelry.

Vintage jewelry hallmarks might be small, but they provide big clues about the antique brands, materials, and purity in no time. For that, you just need to observe the mark, check its logo, and compare it from our table. Also, check for any date or testing mark to age your jewelry.

But, if you are still confused, join us to learn more clues to identify your ‘antique cufflinks’ and ‘necklace clasps.’

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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