Detail of the inlay on a Louis XVI games table

Marking your antiques and fine art can add additional assurance and significantly help police with identification and recovery.

Ultraviolet marking

All police forces use UV lamps to check for signs of marking by UV marking pens. UV pens are inexpensive and can be purchased from most supermarkets or high street stationers.

Mark your items on the base or an area that is not regularly cleaned and consider reapplying every two years to counteract fading.

A good unique mark is to write your postcode and house number, or your surname. Do not use on the reverse side of canvas or paper as it will seep through and damage the original

Recommended systems

Smartwater and SelectDNA are harmless liquids with a unique DNA code that can be painted directly on to property. Both systems are recommended by the Police and can be detected with UV light.

The police also recommend registering valuable items with Immobilise, the UK property database. Almost any kind of item can be registered, and the cost is completely free.


Photograph identifiable features, including initials, family crests, damage and any repair. Hallmarks and maker’s initials are also important as they identify age and possibly value.


The underside of a tabletop is an ideal and discreet location for marking with a UV. If a piece of furniture has drawers, marking the back or the underneath of each drawer is recommended.

Clocks and watches

Make a note and photographic record of the maker, the type of face and numerals, the material and the decoration of the clock.

The back of the clock or the inside of the case may bear old repairers’ marks scratched into the metal which can help with identification.


Close-up, detailed colour photography will help with identifying valuable Jewellery. It will also help if you record:

  • The type of metal
  • The type of stones
  • A description of the setting
  • The age of the items by hallmark

A BADA jewellery specialist will be able to help with this and for a modest fee will provide a written description and valuation which will also assist for insurance purposes.

Fine art

Pictures are one of the easiest items to recover as they are unique and usually signed by the artist.

Good quality photographs of the painting, its frame, the reverse and close-ups of the artists signature, and any repairs or other markings will prove invaluable.

To further help with recovery it is also beneficial to record:

  • The exact dimensions of the painting.
  • The surface on which it is painted or drawn (e.g. paper, canvas) .
  • The medium in which it is executed.
  • The name of the artist (if known).
  • A brief description of the scene or subject.
  • Any obvious repairs.
  • A description of the frame.

Discretion and privacy

It is most important to be discreet about the presence of antiques or fine art and their value, to avoid the attention of thieves.

When wearing expensive antique jewellery or watches, try to cover up in public places so as not to draw attention to yourself.

Be aware that magazine articles written about your home or garden may act a source of information for potential thieves.