Opportunity for Sheffield business on the international stage

Nick Clegg with assay master Ashley Carson
Nick Clegg with assay master Ashley Carson

A hallmark move for Sheffield business on the international stage means the city is set to stamp Britain’s name abroad.

The Sheffield Assay Office – responsible for assessing the precious metal content of various consumer goods – has been granted permission to apply the prestigious UK hallmark overseas.

It is the first office in the UK to be given the go-ahead following changes to legislation last year after a three-year campaign.

The move – marked by a visit from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – allows the UK to compete with European assay offices already operating without geographic restrictions.

The Hillsborough-based Sheffield Assay Office will open a branch in Malpensa, just outside Milan, in Italy, on April 28.

Sheffield artists Annette Petch and Jen Ricketts have been commissioned to develop the first articles to be hallmarked in the Italian office.

Annette, based in Manor Oaks Studios, Manor, has designed a silver and 18-carat gold necklace, while Jen, based in Persistence Works on Brown Street in the city centre, has created six cufflinks in sterling silver.

Ashley Carson, Sheffield assay master and chief executive, said: “This is a landmark day for the UK hallmarking industry.

“I am delighted Sheffield Assay Office, the capital of world hallmarking, is the first to open a branch overseas, opening up significant commercial opportunities in a market place that is becoming increasingly globalised.

“The Assay Office team carefully selected the location allowing us to apply the UK Hallmark to a range of famous brands, not only being offered for sale in the UK, but also within Europe.

“By establishing an office oversees we can increase control, giving manufacturers an extended lead time on deliveries and streamlining company logistics.

“It’s a win-win situation: great for the hallmarking industry, great for UK trade.

“Above all it’s putting Sheffield firmly on the world map as a centre of hallmarking excellence, a badge of honour we’re proud to wear.”

Mr Clegg, MP for Sheffield Hallam, said: “I am delighted to see Sheffield taking advantage of the changes to the Hallmarking Act, allowing Sheffield to finally compete in Europe, enabling our city’s Assay Office, a jewel within Sheffield’s crown, to thrive not only in the UK market, but also now within Europe.”