Do you have a precious heirloom of any kind? One of the most valuable items I own (sentimental value at least) is a gold signet ring. The ring originally belonged to my grandfather. When he died, it was left my father. Now it belongs to me. Having been in the family for so long, I have known of the ring all my life, but I recently decided to do some research on it.
Jewellery items often feature hallmarks. A hallmark is an official mark or series of marks struck on items made of metal, mostly to certify the content of noble metal, such as platinum, gold and silver. The engraving of “SLH” is my grandfather’s initials. But my ring also features a maker’s mark, a mark for the metal type, then the assay office and finally the year. There are many websites dedicated to “decoding” these marks and it didn’t take me long to obtain more information.
The year of manufacture was 1912, making he ring 110 years old at the time of writing this. This means that my grandfather was 24 when he received the ring. I don’t know if he purchased it, or if it was gifted to him. The maker was Coley Brothers, who were based at 119 Vyse Street in Birmingham. This is an area of the city still known as the Jewellery Quarter today. This is relatively close to where my grandfather lived, but I don’t know if the the ring was purchased directly or via a retailer. The metal is 18k gold. No surprise here as it clearly hardy having survived continuous wearing for so long. Finally, the assay office is listed as Chester. I would have assumed Birmingham, but for some reason it is not.
The fact that this ring is linked so strongly to my family, means a great deal to me. I will certainly leaving it in my will to an heir and I hope that they will treasure it as much as I do.