In this period, fineness was more or less standardized in the major European nations (writ: promulgated under Etienne Boileau, Provost of Paris, for King Louis IX. In 1275, King Philip III prescribed, by royal decree, the mark for use on silver works, along with specific punches for each community's smiths.
In 1313, his successor, Philippe IV "the Fair" expanded the use of hallmarks to gold works.
To be a true hallmark, it must be the guarantee of an independent body or authority that the contents are as marked.
Thus, a stamp of '925' by itself is not, strictly speaking, a hallmark, but is rather an unattested fineness mark. if metal fineness is claimed, even though there is no official hallmarking scheme in that country.
Historically, hallmarks were applied by a trusted party: the 'guardians of the craft' or more recently by an assay office.
Hallmarks are a guarantee of certain purity or fineness of the metal, as determined by official metal (assay) testing.Hallmarks are often confused with "trademarks" or "maker's marks".A hallmark is not the mark of a manufacturer to distinguish his products from other manufacturers' products: that is the function of trademarks or makers' marks.Other nations monitor the activities of the Convention and may apply for membership.Complete international hallmarking has been plagued by difficulties, because even amongst countries which have implemented hallmarking, standards and enforcement vary considerably, making it difficult for one country to accept another's hallmarking as equivalent to its own.The Master Craftsman was responsible for the quality of the work that left his atelier or workshop, regardless of who made the item.Hence the responsibility mark is still known today in French as le poinçon de maître literally "the maker's punch".A hallmark is an official mark or series of marks struck on items made of metal, mostly to certify the content of noble metals—such as platinum, gold, silver and in some nations, palladium.In a more general sense, the term hallmark can also be used to refer to any distinguishing characteristic.By the age of the Craft Guilds, the authorized examiner's mark was the "master's mark", which consisted frequently of his initials and/or the coat of arms of the goldsmith or silversmith.At one time, there was no distinction between silversmiths and goldsmiths, who were all referred to as orfèvres, the French word for goldsmith.