Precious metals: A golden year for hallmarks

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The number of items produced from precious metals increased last year by 13 per cent. Figures released yesterday showed that 26,602,935 articles received hallmarks last year, 3 million more than in 1996.

Hallmarks are given only to items made from gold, sterling silver and platinum. Of the items hallmarked last year, 76 per cent were made of gold, using an estimated that 44 tons. The vast bulk of the rest were made of silver.

Last year's total has been exceeded in recent years only in 1977/78, at the height of the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations, when around 4 million silver commemorative items were produced.