Marks and stamps

Coins on a Bakhtiari veil ornament, Iran

Originally, Bedouin and traditional jewelry did not carry hallmarks; the region’s jewelry tradition predates their use, as well as modern state boundaries. As each piece of jewelry was individually ordered from a silversmith, the amount of silver to be used was carefully discussed, weighed and paid for. To establish the correct amount of silver, the material was balanced against a known amount of silver, for example a set of coins such as the Maria Theresia Thaler.

At around the beginning of the twentieth century, most countries adopted an official hallmarking system. For a very long time, existing pieces of jewelry were marked only when they were sold; their exact value only needed to be established at the moment of sale. To illustrate its value, an item of jewelry usually displayed its silver stamp on the outside, where it would be most visible.