an official mark or stamp indicating a standard of purity, used in marking gold and silver articles assayed by the Goldsmiths' Company of London; plate mark.
any mark or special indication of genuineness, good quality, etc.
any distinguishing feature or characteristic: Accuracy is a hallmark of good scholarship.
verb (used with object)
to stamp or imprint (something) with a hallmark.

1715–25; Goldsmiths' Hall, London, the seat of the Goldsmiths' Company + mark1

hallmarker, noun
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
hallmark (ˈhɔːlˌmɑːk)
1.  (Brit) an official series of marks, instituted by statute in 1300, and subsequently modified, stamped by the Guild of Goldsmiths at one of its assay offices on gold, silver, or platinum (since 1975) articles to guarantee purity, date of manufacture, etc
2.  a mark or sign of authenticity or excellence
3.  an outstanding or distinguishing feature
4.  (tr) to stamp with or as if with a hallmark
[C18: named after Goldsmiths' Hall in London, where items were graded and stamped]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1721, official stamp of purity in gold and silver articles, from Goldsmiths' Hall in London, site of the assay office. General sense of "mark of quality" first recorded 1864.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Many consider this extended live coverage a hallmark in television news.
Petroglyphs are one of the earliest expressions of abstract thinking and are
  considered a hallmark of humanity.
Outstanding graduate programs are the hallmark of a great university.
Anthropologists consider burying the dead an indicator of a spiritual belief
  system and a hallmark of modern humans.
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