Membership in the Convention provides a great number of benefits for Contracting States while the application of the Convention’s Common Control Mark (CCM) on precious metals articles significantly is facilitating market access.  Here are the main benefits deriving from membership or from applying the Convention’s Common Control Mark (CCM).


Benefits deriving from applying the CCM

The CCM faciliates exports 

Articles bearing the Convention’s Common Control Mark (CCM) – together with the national Assay Office Mark, the responsibility mark (i.e. the manufacturer or sponsor) and the fineness mark – do not have to be re-hallmarked upon import in a Contracting State. The Convention thus considerably enhances market access for CCM-marked articles of precious metals. The CCM is also considered as quality mark in many Non-Member States and recognised as such in many countries around the world.

The CCM is, so to say, a “passport” for precious metals articles, which allows them to cross borders, in particular to countries, which have a compulsory hallmarking system.  In combination with the national control mark (Assay Office mark), CCM-marked articles will be accepted in numerous countries:


The Convention enhances fair trade

The Convention is a catalyst for fair trade.  Precious metal operators must comply with the Convention’s technical requirements – in particular no sub-standard articles – in order to get the CCM applied to their articles. Sub-standard articles, which are below a legal standard of fineness, seriously distort competition and trade. It is in the interest of neither Trade nor consumers to have a system in place, which gives an advantage to producers, importers or retailers who sell sub-standard articles.


Consumers are protected

While the Convention facilitates trade in precious metal articles, it also maintains consumer protection justified by the particular nature of these articles. The CCM is also a critical piece of information for consumers, which indicates that the articles have been controlled in line with the Convention’s stringent requirements.  A CCM article is an article, which is guaranteed to be to a permitted standard of fineness.  An article, which has neither been controlled nor marked by an independent third-party Assay Office, may not be to a legal standard of fineness.  The consumer must be made aware of the risk of buying jewellery which is to a lower standard than that indicated.

Consumers should not be cheated on the precious metals content. Jewellery and watches are often passed on to the next generation: they deserve to be treated differently from ordinary consumer goods, which have a much shorter lifecycle. 

Due to the steady increase of precious metal prices, jewellery is also increasingly considered as an investment and it is important to guarantee that such investments are not undermined by sub-standard articles.


Benefits deriving from Convention membership

The Convention enhances the mutual recognition of control marks

The Convention is based on a dual system: (i) the harmonisation of control marks (through the CCM); and (ii) the mutual recognition of control marks (or Assay Office marks). As a result, Convention membership facilitates the mutual recognition of control marks between Contracting States. Most – if not all – EEA Member States, which are also Contracting Parties to the Convention, do recognise each other’s hallmarks under “Houtwipper*”, provided that the control is considered equivalent.

* Houtwipper is the name of an important ruling of the European Court of Justice establishing the principle of “equivalent control systems”.


The Convention allows for efficient networking

By attending meetings of the Standing Committee, established under the Convention, representatives from Contracting States benefit from personal contacts with other Assay Offices and/or Ministries, whether they are part of the Convention or not. This networking simplifies contacts as well as the sharing of information. In addition, the Standing Committee is – together with the International Association of Assay Offices – the only international forum for networking and confidence building between Assay Offices and Regulators, who can discuss issues of mutual concern and share experiences and information.


The Convention facilitates the sharing of information

The Convention is a very important source of information on precious metals control for its Members as well as for non-Members. It continuously informs Contracting States on e.g. EU or ISO initiatives in the field of precious metals control such as the EU Mutual Recognition Regulation or ISO norms developed by ISO/TC 174. Membership in the Convention thus allows Ministries and Assay Offices to always be informed on developments at the regional or international level.


Benefits deriving from applying the CCM & Convention membership

The Convention saves resources for Operators and Governments

Since articles marked with the CCM can be imported without further testing and marking into a Contracting State, the Convention considerably reduces the unnecessary, time-consuming and costly duplication of control and marking. This is not only important for manufacturers / importers but also for the importing Contracting State, which can better allocate national resources (e.g. they can reduce market surveillance measures for CCM articles while increasing them for other articles).


The Conventions favours international harmonisation

The Convention is the only worldwide instrument, which harmonises the control and marking of articles of precious metals. There is nothing comparable at the international level. By actively taking part in the work of the Convention, Contracting States participate in the development and harmonisation of international standards on precious metals control and marking. The standards under the Convention are fully compatible with other existing international standards (e.g. ISO norms). Although accreditation is not a requirement, the Convention encourages the accreditation of Assay Offices and laboratories to ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO/IEC 17020.


The Convention ensures high standards

Together with the International Association of Assay Offices, the Convention regularly organises interlaboratory proficiency testing schemes (called “Round Robin”), which allow participating laboratories to verify that they correctly apply methods of analysis and that their equipment is up-to-standards. This enables precious metals laboratories to keep high standards, which are a prerequisite for the accurate control of precious metals articles. Participating in Round Robin is also important in order to get or maintain accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025.


The Convention is a purely voluntary system

The CCM marking is applied independently from the marking system in place in a country. The marking of articles of precious metals with the CCM is thus always voluntary: manufacturers can request that their articles are marked with the CCM but are not obliged to do so. Convention membership is thus compatible with any control system.