What is a Hallmark?

What is a Hallmark?

Impressive Memories now has its own unique Hallmark

I am delighted and quite proud, to say that I now have my own Sponsors Mark registered with the Edinburgh Assay Office. To me, this means a great deal but I suspect you read that opening sentence and thought – “So what? Who cares? Does that matter? Is that important?” or something along those lines…hopefully this article helps to explain why it is important.

What is a hallmark?

A hallmark is a legal mark stamped on to articles of gold, silver, or platinum by the British assay offices, certifying the metals standard of purity. It’s impossible to tell the purity of metal by just looking at it. It has to be tested at an Assay Office.

There are four Assay offices in the UK – London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh. You won’t be surprised to know that I chose to register at the Edinburgh Assay Office.

A Hallmark consists of four parts of separate information

Three are compulsory, the fourth is optional

1 Sponsor’s Mark

2 Fineness Mark

3 Assay Office Mark

4 Traditional fineness symbols and date letters indicating the year the piece was created

What is a Hallmark? 2
What is a Hallmark? 3

What is a Sponsor’s Mark?

This is the part I got excited about! The Sponsors Mark is the stamp (or punch) that is unique and created for each individual person. There cannot be two the same in the world, or in history, so you are given a choice of letter combinations and various shapes to choose from for your unique sponsor’s mark.  

What is a fineness mark?

Even precious metals are rarely used in their entirely pure form. They are alloyed (have other metals added) to make them more durable, workable and wearable. You cannot tell the fineness of a metal by sight, it needs to be Assayed (tested). This is what the assay office does – it tests the pieces by removing a tiny sliver of it to make sure the metal is the purity that the maker says it is, and the stamp then guarantees this.

What is an Assay Office Mark?

This mark tells you which of the four UK offices tested (assayed) and hallmarked the piece.

What will my hallmark look like?

My Sponsors mark is “IM” representing Impressive Memories and the letters are in a cartouche shape. This punch has now been made for me and can only be used at the Edinburgh Assay office on work that I submit, that has been made by me.

Impressive Memories Hallmark

What is a Hallmark? 4

Is silver Jewellery stamped with 925 hallmarked?

No. Some jewellery is stamped with 925 which is the symbol used to represent sterling silver but this is NOT a hallmark, it is just a stamp. Anyone can stamp 925 onto metal but without the other Assay office stamps it is worthless and cannot be a sure sign of the metals purity. You can buy a 925 stamp on eBay and do this yourself…you cannot stamp a hallmark yourself!! That is the difference.

My advice on 925 stamps is to consider the reputation of who is selling the jewellery. If I bought a ring on Ebay and it was costing 25p and being shipped from China – I’d suspect this was NOT an indication that the item was genuine sterling silver. If I was buying jewellery from a trusted and well-known supplier, I would be satisfied that it was more likely to be genuine sterling silver.  

Interesting fact No.1

The number 925 indicates the amount of pure silver per thousand parts. The other 75 parts in sterling silver are made predominantly from copper. 999 silver is the purest form of silver you can buy and is quite a soft metal which can scratch fairly easily. By adding copper and making 925 silver you are making it more hard wearing and durable…

Interesting fact No.2

When people say they are allergic to silver, it is usually NOT the silver that irritates their skin, it is the additional copper.

If you think you can’t wear silver, but wish you could…ask me about making your jewellery in 999 pure silver instead.

Have I been breaking the law by NOT having a hallmark before now?

Eek…if you’ve bought jewellery from me in years gone by, you’re maybe now wondering if it has been illegally sold to you??? Don’t panic!!! I haven’t been breaking the law…I promise!!!

Not EVERYTHING needs a hallmark. As I make predominantly silver jewellery the law states that an item weighing less than 7.78g does not need to be hallmarked. (It’s less for gold, an item made in Gold over 1g must be hallmarked)  My jewellery weighs less than 7.78g so there was no need for me to invest in my own hallmark.

It cost me approximately £200 to register myself and have my sponsor punch made. Because the jewellery I made wasn’t over this weight limit and I don’t mass produce items it just wasn’t cost-effective, or necessary to do it.


You might have read my recent blog called ‘Losing my mum’, where I shared my personal story about my grief journey and how I made myself a stacking necklace with four generations of fingerprints on silver teardrops, all soldered together onto one pendant. This piece exceeded the 7.78g limit. Legally it was OK as I wasn’t selling this, I made it for myself.

BUT when other people saw it, they liked it too and people began to ask if I would make something similar for them too – my answer had to be ‘No, sorry I can’t – I don’t have my own hallmark, and would be breaking the law to make this and sell it to you.”  

This was when I decided to go ahead and register myself at the Edinburgh Assay Office.

I started the process in the first week of January 2018 – it was one of my New Year Resolutions – to stop faffing, and just do it!! So I did…

Will all jewellery I make now be hallmarked?

The simple answer here is – No, for two reasons.

  1. Legally it is unnecessary if your piece weighs less than 7.78g
  2. It is not cost effective – yet!!!
How much does hallmarking cost?

Due to the fact that all the jewellery I make is so unique and I don’t mass produce things, it makes the cost of hallmarking quite expensive. For one or two pieces to be hallmarked costs £15 with approx £15 spent to safely post and return it to and from the Assay office.

Would you be willing to pay £30 more for your charm to be optionally hallmarked? Probably not.

If, however, I send 26 or more items to be hallmarked the price drops down to 45p. Splitting the same £15 postage over the value of 26 items and adding 45p to a charm is not expensive.

For now, it will only be offered on pieces that legally require it, and sadly it will cost the higher rate – but who knows what the future might bring???


As I said at the start, I am proud to now have my own sponsor mark and I am looking forward to having my own jewellery hallmarked with it. The first piece I send will be the necklace made in memory of my mum.

One of the hardest parts of coping with bereavement is that life carries on. It has to.

Of course, I wish I had done this before losing my mum, I reckon she would have been really proud to have seen it.

I don’t know about you but I am guilty of putting off doing things – either because

  • I lack the confidence in myself
  • or I wrongly assume I can do it tomorrow…

Does that sound at all familiar?

Is there something you’re putting off doing?
Maybe you should just go do it right now?
What are you waiting for?

Hope You Have an Impressive Week!

Jen x

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How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips

When you first buy silver keepsake jewellery it will be super shiny and beautifully perfect.

  • Wouldn’t it be great if it stayed that way forever?

Trouble is…you also want to wear and enjoy your jewellery – and that means it’s gonna get grubby!

Here are 3 ways I recommend (and 9 that I don’t!!) to look after your keepsake jewellery – to keep it as clean and as shiny as the day you bought it.

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 7

#1 Silver Polishing Cloth

The quickest and easiest way to keep things shiny is using a silver cleaning cloth. A silver cleaning cloth is impregnated with an anti-tarnish product. This will remove surface dirt, makeup and grime. Just rub your jewellery and watch it come back to life.

You can do this every day if you like…I do!! A cleaning cloth only costs a few pounds and lasts for years. I would recommend ‘Town Talk’. You can buy it online or from Argos.

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 8

#2 Liquid Dip Cleaner

This little pot of liquid is good at cleaning charms but it is even better for intricate jewellery – like chains and necklace links. The liquid can access all the places that get grubby. Be prepared for a nasty smell of sulphur and rotten eggs…this will stink if your jewellery is tarnished…but it works well. 

Don’t leave jewellery in the solution or it will damage it. Just dip it in, then rinse it in clean water. Also, need to be careful not to dip certain metals and stones – read the instructions carefully!

If you have mini print jewellery (jewellery with miniature prints of your child’s hands and feet) where the prints have been made black, this is done by oxidising the silver. If you dip it in this solution it can lift off the black oxidised patina. Don’t panic! It can be redone.

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 9

#3 Ultrasonic Cleaner

  1. Ultrasonic Cleaner £30 – £300

With an ultrasonic cleaner, you submerge your jewellery in a tank with liquid, which is then hit with high-frequency sound waves. The sound waves create bubbles and a gentle but powerful cleaning action in the fluid that cleans all surfaces of the jewellery.

Ultrasonic cleaners are great but you need to be careful if you clean jewellery with stones as it can dislodge them! This is the machine I use and it costs about £30, a bottle of the cleaning solution is about £10. (Some ultrasonic cleaners can cost hundreds of pounds).


The following 9 methods involve weird household things that MIGHT work  –  I have no idea and I don’t plan to stick my precious jewellery in any of these!! What do you think?

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 10

#4 Tin Foil

Bring one litre of water, one tablespoon of baking soda, and one piece of tin foil to the boil. Drop silverware in the pot for 10 seconds (longer if it’s very tarnished), then remove…

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 11

#5 Laundry Powder

Line a medium-sized bowl with tin foil and fill it with hot water. Mix in one tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent, then soak your silver for one minute. Rinse with clean water, and air-dry.

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 12

#6 Ketchup

Squirt a small amount on a paper towel, and rub gently over the tarnished areas. If your silver isn’t getting shinier, let it sit in the ketchup for 15 minutes, then rub with a soft cloth and rinse clean.

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 13

#7 Cornstarch

Make a paste of cornstarch & water and apply with a damp cloth, let dry, then rub off with something very mildly abrasive, like cheesecloth or a rough towel.

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 14

#8 Hand Sanitizer

Squirt a few drops on a damp cloth and watch the shine appear…and the germs disappear! 2020 edit…the year hand sanitizer became our best friend – please do not leave this on the surface of your jewellery as it will damage/corrode it long term.

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 15

#9 Fizzy water with lemon and lime

Leave your jewellery in a glass of fizzy water and lemon and lime for about an hour…(best not to drink it afterwards!)

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 16

#10 Toothpaste

Rub a small amount on a cloth and watch the shine return.

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 17

#11 Window Cleaner

For the thrill seekers…personally it seems a bit extreme to hang out of windows just to clean your jewellery…but each to their own.

Alternatively, you could give your jewellery a skoosh of good ol’ Mr Muscle and that should clean up your silver too…and needs less danger money.

How to clean your silver jewellery: Top 3 tips 18

#11 Vinegar

Is there anything vinegar CAN’T do???

Soak it in 1/2 cup white vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons of baking soda for two to three hours. Rinse under cold water, and dry thoroughly.

So there you go! No excuses for mucky jewellery…I’d definitely stick to option 1, 2 or 3 – but the choice is yours.
Let me know how you keep your keepsake jewellery in tip-top condition. Comment below…

If you don’t comment I’ll suspect you’re one of the grubby ones…

Be your own boss

Be your own boss

Impressive Memories

What's it like to run your own business?

What was your dream job when you were growing up? Did you ever think about becoming an entrepreneur?

If you could change your job now – would you?

I received a letter recently asking me about being self-employed…

be your own boss

At Glenwood High School one of the S3 elective subjects is “Be your own boss”. The class have been learning about entrepreneurs and were asked to make contact with a local small business. One of the students decided to get in touch and ask a few more questions about Impressive Memories.

I’d have loved to be taught about being self-employed when I was at school.

Not only did I have no idea what job I wanted to do when I was 14, I don’t think being self-employed was even mentioned as being a possibility.

Could this mean more students will become entrepreneurs?

Here are the questions Mollie asked me…


Name of business:

Impressive Memories – where I make your memories tangible. To touch, hold & treasure for a lifetime.

Reason for choosing the name:

Initially, I called my business Impressive Babies because I predominantly worked only with babies and I took their impressions…which were impressive. As my business progressed I didn’t only work with babies but children, adults and pets too, I was also creating jewellery and ceramics – the name no longer felt right…so in 2011 I changed it to Impressive Memories.

The name to me means I capture memories, through impressions – and I still always aim to be Impressive!

When did you start the business?

I started lifecasting when my daughter Erin was born in 2003. I created casts for friends and family for several years. In 2011 I registered my business with HMRC and officially became self-employed.

Why did you start the business?

I wanted to capture memories of my daughter as she grew up, then realised other people wanted to do this too.

I enjoyed helping people hold on to tangible memories of moments that were important to them. I wanted to prove to myself that I could make a living doing something I loved with no one telling me what to do!

How long did it take to start the business?

Initially, I started my business working only part-time on it, while still teaching part time too. Soon it became clear that both jobs needed more hours than I had, and I needed to decide how to go forward.

The dream of being 100% self-sufficient sat in the back of my mind until 2013 when I started working in the funeral industry capturing memories for families who’d lost a loved one. It made me realise that life is short, often shorter than we’d expect. You only get one life and I knew I’d regret it if I DIDN”T go for it. I kept asking myself “What are you waiting for?” It’s easier to make excuses and NOT do something

I knew I wanted to work on my business full time but it is a scary prospect to leave a secure career, with a salary, a pension and stability. As a solo parent, I had no backup plan and had to make a lot of changes if I was to make my business a success.

In 2014 I resigned from my teaching career and decided to focus 100% on Impressive Memories.

Do you enjoy being self-employed?

Yes, I love being self-employed. It’s hard work…constantly, the hours are long and it’s hard to switch off and stop working – especially because I work from home. It is a rollercoaster and no two days are ever the same…or predictable, which I really like. I have no intentions ever to work for anyone else again.

If you could go back would you change anything?

I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done. I have always made the best decision I can, at that time. You never know what’s ahead of you, and you can’t change what’s already happened so you should always trust your gut instinct and do your best…that’s all you can ever do.

Is it easier having your own business than working for someone else?

Neither option is easier or harder than the other, just different.

Being your own boss needs more than just the ability to create the product your service you plan to sell. You need self-discipline, a lot of hard work, tenacity, determination and bucket loads of courage.

Running a business successfully you have to become an expert in so many different things…not just making/doing the thing you think you’re good at!

Possibly the biggest misconception people have about being self-employed is that you can do what you want, when you want and never have to do things you don’t like to do…erm…WRONG! The only thing I outsource is my accounting & tax…everything else I do myself. From CEO to cleaner.

I can only spend about 20% of my time actually doing the hands-on making of products, 80% of my time is taken up running the business properly.

I have had to learn about finances, accounting, marketing, time management, advertising, IT, web design, budgets, investment, communication, customer care and not forgetting all the laws surrounding your industry too.

Would you recommend starting a business to other people?

Deciding what to do in life is a decision only you can make. What’s right for me might not be right for someone else.

My advice would be to ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?” if you can answer every single question and scenario, and be brutally honest, then you’ll know if you can do it, or not.

Small business survival rates are as high as 91 per cent after one year of trading, but after five years just four in ten small businesses will still be trading.

If you think you’ve got what it takes – go for it!
I did and I love it.

Have an Impressive week!

Best wishes

Jen x

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4 Reasons Not to Buy My Keepsake Jewellery

4 Reasons Not to Buy My Keepsake Jewellery

4 Reasons You Might NOT Buy Jewellery from Impressive Memories

Sounds a bit odd doesn’t it? Usually, a business would try to convince you that you simply HAD to buy their product…bombard you with adverts and reasons why you should BUY NOW…

And here’s me telling you 4 reasons why NOT to buy from me…

Have I gone completely nuts?

But what if you maybe shouldn’t buy keepsake jewellery from Impressive Memories?
Zig Ziglar said “Every sale has five basic obstacles
  1. No Need
  2. No Money
  3. No Hurry
  4. No Desire
  5. No Trust

Why might I not be the best fit for you?

#1 “I don’t need what you’re selling”

The jewellery I make is created for you with YOUR memory, YOUR moment in time. It captures an emotion and has way more sentimental value than monetary. The necklace I make a mum with her baby daughter’s handprint will be priceless and precious to her.

There won’t be a designer label there…If you like things with labels then my jewellery is not for you.

Maybe you need an instant purchase? I can’t do that either… I don’t have duplicate stock in lots of different shapes and sizes, and I do need time to make your piece. All my jewellery is made by hand and only made by me…I’m not Elizabeth Duke!

#2 “I can’t afford it”

There are cheaper alternatives out there. You could jump on eBay and look for something which looks quite similar – on the surface – and it will cost less…initially.

I don’t sell cheaper items because I value the item I am making for you, just as much as you do. I want your jewellery to last and I want it to bring years of memories.

Could I make my jewellery cheaper?

  • I could not have invested in a kiln – just given it a quick blast on the gas stove or a blow torch. Yup, you could make a charm that way…plenty of sellers do this (and plenty buyers don’t know this).
  • I could make you a tiny charm with much less silver.
  • I could not solder the jump ring that will hold your jewellery to your necklace. Chances are it would fall off in no time at all, and be lost forever…
  • I didn’t need to buy machinery to polish and harden your piece before you took it home, but because I did – your piece will be significantly stronger for it too.
If you’re looking for the cheapest option, not the best value option – I’m not the person to make jewellery for you.

Is there a better solution?

There are ways to make everything more affordable and jewellery is no exception.

Split the costs

If you would like jewellery made but just don’t have the budget for it right now…ask about splitting the cost over a couple of months, or longer. I’m happy to set up a payment plan option for you to pay what you can when you can. It will take longer until you own your jewellery – but you know what they say about being patient 😉

Only buy the kit just now, not the jewellery

If you would like to invest in the best but you just cannot justify the expense…right now…you could just buy the kit. You can capture the moment or the memory now and keep it safe for as long as you want to. When the time is right for you, you have the memories and you can have your jewellery created.

#3 “I’m not ready to make that decision right now”

Zig Ziglar calls this is the stage that you have no hurry or desire to buy – right now.

Buying jewellery isn’t a top priority – I get it!

We’re all so busy. If you’re like me you probably know it is something you’d love to do, but day-to-day ‘stuff’ gets in the way!!

Maybe these moments don’t feel too precious right now. When you have a newborn baby you’re so enthralled to sit and watch your new little miracle that you forget this moment passes in a flash. But it’s too late once the moment has gone. Milestone after milestone your child grows and changes…will you remember just how tiny those hands and feet were in years to come?

People are not in our lives forever.

Whether we choose to forget this or don’t want to accept it…none of us are here forever and what if the day comes and you regret not holding onto a fingerprint of a loved one?

Maybe it’s too painful or emotional to face some situations? I get that…it can be very tough.

Maybe you’re worried about lifting the phone and trying to ask for help on how to capture a memory?

“What if I cry?” Chances are I will cry with you!! I always have a big box of tissues to hand…you’d be amazed how many tears I see on a daily basis. (Just to confirm…you can cry and be happy too!! I don’t just have miserable customers!!! Promise)

But if it’s easier you’re welcome to talk to me by email, or text, or my web chat option…go for it!  All the jewellery I make can be made from a distance too…if you don’t fancy being here face-to-face, its no problem at all. I am more than happy to arrange everything by post.

If it doesn’t feel emotionally right for you to do this, if you’re ok letting these moments fade to memories, then you probably shouldn’t be ordering from Impressive Memories.

4.“I don’t trust you yet”

That’s understandable – why should you? Why should you trust me with your money or your memories? Well, here are 8 things I’ve done to try and help.

  1. I’ve been in business since January 2011, and plan to be around for many more.
  2. I have 32 five star reviews on Google added in 2018. I also have a one-star review from someone who’s never set foot in my business or had any contact with my business, but he felt the need to be nasty…hmmm I wonder why? Ah well…the other 32 are genuine.
  3. In 2016 I was voted by my customers as ‘Fife’s Best Home Based Business’ and got through to the national finals with http://www.scotlandsbusinessawards.co.uk (I didn’t win a national award…yet)
  4. My website is built on a site that I have made as secure as I can. In the address bar, you’ll see an https address with a little green padlock – The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’. It means all communications between your browser and my website are encrypted (that means your details are safe).
  5. There are a few other things I do with my website to keep it safe and secure…it doesn’t cost a huge amount more…a few hundred pounds invested in MY website each year means that YOU can feel safe making a purchase. I think it’s worth paying it.
  6. I use PayPal to process your web transactions. Most of us know and trust PayPal.
  7. My invoicing is done online using STRIPE. They are a very similar company to PayPal but not quite so well known (yet).
  8. I accept all major cards for payment, I don’t ask customers to pay using cash – you’re very welcome to use cash, but if you make a card payment you have more security. All purchases on payments cards are recorded, with a paper trail. This safety feature comes in handy when you need to dispute or cease an unauthorised transaction. I would hope you would never need or want to raise a dispute, but should the need arise, you can.
If you still feel there’s a risk, then maybe Impressive Memories isn’t right for you.

Final Thoughts

Not everybody needs what I make and maybe you don’t either. I don’t want every customer to come to me…but I do want the right customers to come to me. When you leave with the item I make you I want you to be 100% happy with it, I want you to love it and tell others that you love it too.

If you think I AM a good fit for you…I’d love to help you further…

What would you like to do now? Come and visit me, buy online or maybe you’d like to have a chat?

Come and visit me…
Buy from my online shop…
Get in Touch…