Make Your Mark is the annual event with a competition by the London Assay Office to design a piece of jewellery which celebrates the London Hallmark. I was lucky enough to be shortlisted for the Make Your Mark 2019 Awards for my design “Toolery”. Intended as a piece of jewellery for makers to wear themselves, the miniature silver hammer celebrates the tools of the trade and could also be used as a seal to stamp wax, because every tool must have a function!
Held at the gorgeous Goldsmith’s Hall which is the historical home of all things precious, I was thrilled to see my design exhibited amongst the other finalists!
Make Your Mark is a whole day of talks and and demonstrations throughout the beautiful building. Aimed at students, graduates and apprentices it shares information on hallmarking, manufacturing and the jewellery industry to provide a support network which is so crucial in self employment when often working alone.
I love the history of hallmarks, their symbols are the secret language of precious metals which can unlock the history of a piece to tell you the story of who made it, the material and when and where it was made.
Even though I have been making jewellery for many years now I had never had my own makers’ mark before as it is only used when making in precious metals which I had not used much of apart from a few components.
However this year is a very exciting one for me as I have been learning more technical skills in metal with a fantastic tutor Nina Gilbey at London Jewellery Workshop, so I was able to attend Make Your Mark for the first time this year and register my own unique mark!
As every mark needs to be identifiably different you have lots of shapes to choose from to frame your initials. Thanks for all of you who helped me to decide when I posted the selection on instagram, especially my pal Eden who said that I she thought my style doesn’t suit very straight edges, so true! So in the end I chose this beautiful bouncy shape as it reminds me of lots of wonderful things I love like scallop shells, oak leaves, malachite, jellies, clouds…
One of the highlights of the day was chatting to Dave Merry who is a bit of a legend at the assay office having just retired after 47 years (huge congrats Dave!). Excitingly we were able to get a demo of the XRF machine in action. The XRF is a low level x-ray machine that is used to test metal items to measure the components giving the percentage content. I had been wondering about my little pinky ring which I bought a few years ago from a vintage market but didn’t have any hallmarks, so Dave said we could test it so it came off my finger and into the machine!
I thought from the style it was probably Victorian, and hopefully solid gold as it hadn’t shown signs of wearing off yet so I thought it might be 9ct but as there were no hallmarks on the ring I had never known for sure what it was made from.
Using the magic of the machine Dave could show me on the graph the exact content of all the metals that made up the alloy.
The graph showed Au content was 768-I was thrilled to discover my little ring was 18ct gold!
That means it had twice as much “fine gold” in the alloy, which also included silver, copper and zinc and gave it a yellowy colour overall. Depending on the quantity of fine gold and the other metals in the alloy it could make the final metal combination appear more red (“rose gold”) or silvery (“white gold”).
I am really excited to see my own unique maker’s mark on my first pieces of precious metal jewellery. The steel stamp will be made by hand in the traditional way just like it has been for hundreds of years and hand stamped by hand here in London so it will also bear the famous leopards head!