Official Swiss inspection and hallmarking of precious metals

All watch cases made of  gold, silver, platinum or palladium, of foreign or domestic manufacture, sold in Switzerland, are subject to inspection and compulsory official marking. A single official hallmark is used for all precious metals and all fineness standards, the head of a St. Bernhard dog.

Some 40 specialists - sworn assayers - carry out industrial police duties at the Office for Precious Metal Control in Bern and in five Assay Offices. They check the authenticity of the precious metals produced in Switzerland and those imported into the country, thereby protecting consumers from counterfeits and manufacturers from unfair competition. Each year more than 1 million items are given the official hallmark. Controls uncover well over 2,000 cases of counterfeit goods or false information every year.During touchstone testing, the item under test is compared with a reference alloy. The marks left on the touchstone are brushed with an acid, which is then absorbed by blotting paper. Differences in purity are clearly visible to an experienced assayer. For an accurate analysis, the precious metal sample under test is first weighed and then cupelled. The purity of a precious metal item can also be assessed using X-ray fluorescence.

The Main Features of the Swiss Precious Metals Control Ordinance, PMCO (ed. 2013)

8/2013 | 523 kb | pdf

English is not an official language of the Swiss Confederation. The translation linked to is provided for information purposes only and has no legal force.

Instructions about the Application of the Swiss Precious Metals Legislation

3/2017 | 397 kb | pdf

Swiss Federal Act on the Control of the Trade in Precious Metals and Precious Metal Articles (Precious Metals Control Act, PMCA)

Swiss Ordinance on the Control of Trade in Precious Metals and Articles of Precious Metals

Swiss Assay Offices (Current)

•Central office for precious metals control, Bern
•Precious Metals Control,Basel
     ••Subdivision Biel (no precious metals analysis)
     ••Subdivision Le Noirmont (no precious metals analysis)
•Precious Metals Control,La Chaux-de-Fonds
•Precious metals control,Chiasso
•Precious metals control, Geneva (Cornavin)
     ••Subdivision Geneva Airport (no precious metals analysis; no hallmarking)
•Precious metals control, Zurich
      •Subdivision Zurich Airport (no precious metals analysis)
Last updated:4/2017

Distinctive symbols used by the Swiss assay offices

Distinctive symbol:               Biel / Bienne   B 

 Chiasso  T
 Geneva  G
 La Chaux-de-Fonds           C
 Le Noirmont  J
 Zurich  Z

These symbols will appear on the ear of the St. Bernard dog.
Last updated:4/2017

The Main Features of the Swiss Precious Metal Control Act, (version 2010)

27.02.2013 | 751 kb | PDF

Facts and figures (the number of hallmarks applied annually)

Precious Metal Control hallmarks are considered to be a seal of quality for precious metal products and are increasingly also used as a marketing tool for goods where hallmarking is voluntary, both for domestic and foreign companies.

Last updated 03.25.2014 | Size 2311 kb | Type: PDF