This area is reserved to Members and Observers of the HMC only
Last update: 18/02/2011
Although the following list is not exhaustive, these could be considered as being the main benefits resulting from membership in the Precious Metal Convention (PMC):
Articles bearing the Convention Common Control Mark (CCM) – together with the national Assay Office Mark, the responsibility mark (i.e. the manufacturer or sponsor) and the fineness mark indicating its purity – do not have to be re-hallmarked upon import in a PMC Contracting State. The Convention thus considerably enhances market access for CCM-marked articles of precious metals.
The CCM marking is applied independently from the marking / hallmarking 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. The CCM is also considered as quality mark in many countries and recognised as such in many countries around the world.
The Convention encourages fair trade between precious metals operators. The latter must comply with the Convention’s technical requirements – in particular no undercarating – in order to get the CCM applied to their articles. It is commonly accepted that the presence of undercarated articles on a market does distort competition and trade.
While the Convention facilitates trade in precious metal articles, it also maintains consumer protection justified by the particular nature of these articles. This is much appreciated by consumers, who are not cheated on the precious metals content of the CCM articles they buy. In many countries, jewellery is not only considered as a fashion article but also as an investment.
Since articles marked with the CCM can be imported without further testing and marking into a PMC 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 CCM is the only worldwide instrument, which harmonises the control and marking of precious metals (there is nothing comparable at the international level). Moreover, by taking part in the meetings of the Standing Committee, established under the PMC, Contracting States actively participate in the development and harmonisation of international standards on precious metals control and marking. PMC standards 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 17025 and 17020.
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 (Assay Office marks). As a result, membership in PMC facilitates the mutual recognition of control marks between Contracting States. Most – if not all – EEA Member States, which are also PMC Contracting Parties, 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”.
By attending PMC activities, representatives from Contracting States benefit from personal contacts with other Assay Offices and/or Ministries, whether they are part of PMC 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 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 PMC is a leading source of information on precious metals control for its Members. It continuously informs Contracting States on 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 PMC thus allows Ministries and Assay Offices to always be informed on developments at the regional or international level.
Together with the International Association of Assay Offices, the PMC regularly organises interlaboratory testing schemes (Round Robin), which allow participating laboratories to ensure that they apply methods of analysis correctly and that their equipment is up-to-standards. This enables precious metals laboratories to keep up high standards, which are a prerequisite for the accurate control of precious metals articles.