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Gold jewellery hallmarking made mandatory from next year; here's all you need to know

FP Staff

The government has made hallmarking for gold jewellery and artefacts mandatory from 15 January 2021, to ensure quality. The department of consumer affairs will issue a notification on Thursday (16 January) for making gold hallmarking mandatory.

On Tuesday, Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that jewellers could sell only hallmarked jewellery and artefacts made of 14, 18 and 22 carat gold from 15 January 2021 and violation of this would attract penalty and imprisonment of one year, reported PTI.

In November last year, Vilas Paswan had said that the government would make hallmarking for gold jewellery mandatory from 2021.

Jewellers have been given one year time to register with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and implement the mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery to ensure purity of the precious metal, he told reporters.

Consumers have to watch out for four marks on hallmarked gold jewellery: BIS mark, purity in carat, assay centre's name and jewellers' identification mark.

A notification to make mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery from 15 January 2021 will be issued on Thursday by the Consumer Affairs Ministry.

He had said the decision has been taken to protect consumers' interest, mainly in small cities and villages, and ensure that they purchase pure gold jewellery.

Welcoming the government's decision, Kalyan Jewellers' Chairman and Managing Director TS Kalyanaraman said, "with the rule coming into effect, hallmarking of jewellery will become mandatory in India from January 2021, and this move will propel the growth of the organized jewellery sector."

Currently, BIS certification centres are only present in bigger cities and towns. The challenge will be to effectively manage this aspect, so that retailers in smaller towns can also make the easy shift to hallmarked jewellery, said Kalyanaraman.

What is hallmarking?

Hallmarking is the accurate determination and official recording of the proportionate content of precious metal in precious metal articles. Hallmarks are thus official marks used in many countries as a guarantee of purity or fineness of precious metal articles. Gold hallmarking is voluntary in nature at present.

The principal objectives of the hallmarking scheme are to protect the public against adulteration and to obligate manufacturers to maintain legal standards of fineness.

The BIS is already running a hallmarking scheme for gold jewellery since April 2000 and around 40 percent of the gold jewellery is being hallmarked currently.

The non-hallmarked jewellery is largely sold in small cities and rural areas where most of the people are not fully aware of hallmarking and its benefits.

The BIS formulated standards for hallmarking gold jewellery in three grades€"14 carat, 18 carat and 22 carat.

At present, there are 892 assaying and hallmarking centres in 234 district locations, and 28,849 jewellers have taken BIS registration.

How jewellers hallmark their jewellery

The BIS hallmarking scheme has been aligned with international criteria on hallmarking. As per this scheme, registration is granted to the jewellers by BIS under hallmarking scheme. The BIS certified jewellers can get their jewellery hallmarked from any of the BIS recognised Assaying and hallmarking centres.

In India, at present two precious metals namely gold and silver have been brought under the purview of hallmarking.

For violation of the norms, there is a provision for a fine of a minimum Rs 1 lakh and up to five times of the value of article as well as one year jail under the BIS Act passed last year.

By making hallmarking mandatory for gold jewellery from next year, the decision may change the dynamics of the market for the next one year, said a report in The Economic Times.

Jewellers are expected to encourage the purchase of non-hallmarked jewellery items to clear their old stock and they may even exclude making charges, the report said quoting bullion dealers.

At present, there are an estimated 3 lakh jewellers in the country of whom only 30,000 jewellers got licence from BIS to sell hallmarked jewellery.

India is the largest importer of gold, which mainly caters to the demand of jewellery industry. In volume terms, the country imports 700-800 tonne of gold annually.

According to World Gold Council data, India's cumulative gold demand declined to 496.11 tonne during the first nine months of 2019 from 523.9 tonne in the year-ago period. In 2018, gold demand stood at 760.4 tonne.

Similarly, the cumulative gold import declined to 502.9 tonnes in the first nine months of 2019 from 587.3 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year. India's gold imports stood at 755.7 tonnes in 2018.

€" With PTI inputs

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