Comments for french origin

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French Hallmark Info and Owls
by: Anonymous

Hi Brian -

Although it carries a typical French control mark representing an owl, you cannot be sure it is actually French as the owl was also used for items in finished condition that were brought to be examined by the French Assay office (the eagle head was used for items brought in unfinished).


The French have the most complex hallmarking system in the world, and the most difficult to read. If you can learn to recognize the French marks for gold, silver and platinum, you've done well. The difficulty is the fact that the French don't use numbers but symbols for everything.

These symbols appear in the form of animals and heads of animals and people, insects, and birds have been used to indicate fineness, place of manufacture, imports and exports. These have changed over the centuries.

Tardy's Hallmarks on Silver, in English, can help decipher most of these marks, and help with understanding the book on gold and platinum marks, which has not been translated from the French.

The most easily recognized and commonly seen French mark is the eagle's head, in use since 1838, indicating 18 karat gold.

Assayed French gold is never lower than 18k. The mark can be found on jewelry in any number of places. Look for it on clasps, side edges, galleries, and pin stems as well as on the back surface of a piece.


On French silver jewelry, the most often-seen mark is the boar's head, the mark of the Paris Assay Office, indicating a fineness of 800 or higher on small articles (such as jewelry).


Yvonne Hammouda-Eyre

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