To date gold, it is necessary to check the hallmark on the piece of jewelry or gold item. The date is shown by a letter in the hallmark, so some research is needed in order to link the letter to a date. A cleaning cloth and a magnifying glass are needed to undertake the dating process.
- Research the meanings of the hallmark
The date when a gold item was tested and marked is usually shown by a letter in the hallmark. Some research is needed to be able to link the letter on a piece with the relevant date. Organizations such as the Birmingham Assay Office list date letters from 1773 to the present, and the London Assay Office dated items from 1678 until 1974. Before 1974, Birmingham, London and Edinburgh had different dating letters, but from that year on, all assay offices used the same letter each year. Gold items produced in the United States do not have to be dated.
- Clean the item
The gold item should be well cleaned so that the hallmark is easy to see.
- Use a magnifying glass
As most hallmarks are small, a magnifying glass may be needed to see the relevant marks.
- Identify the date mark
Date marks are generally shown by a letter of the alphabet. For example, in Birmingham the years 1773 to 1797 are shown by the letters A to Z, in uppercase, with the J missing. From 1798, the alphabet was again used beginning with the letter A; this time the sequence was in lowercase. 1824 saw the introduction of uppercase letters again, but this time in a different font from what was previously used.