The problem of unawareness among the masses regarding hallmarking is playing spoilsport as far as hallmarked jewellery is concerned. Says Dharmesh Sodah of Trendsmith, an upmarket jewellery store in Mumbai: There are two reasons why the concept of hallmarking has not trickled down to the masses. For one, the average Indian still prefers to buy their gold jewellery from their trusted family jeweller and secondly, the price of hallmarked jewellery is slightly more than the non-hallmarked jewellery.
But, jewellers who have taken a license by shelling out Rs 30,000 as fee to sell hallmarked jewellery are trying their best to change the scenario, albeit with a hidden agenda. Jewellers have to recover the cost of hallmarking and that is one of the reason they are more likely to push it towards the consumer.
Says a BIS licensed jeweller, requesting anonymity: We try our level best to sell a hallmarked piece of jewellery as it is good for the customer as well as for us. In addition to the Rs 30,000 license fee, a jeweller has to pay extra for hallmarking every piece of jewellery. If I stock readymade hallmarked jewellery, I have to recover not only the gold price and the making charges but also the price paid to get the jewellery hallmarked, adds the jeweller.
However, the higher price of a hallmarked jewellery still acts as a deterrent for people buying gold jewellery.
Consider this, a hallmarked gold bangle weighing around 36 grams will cost around Rs 23,000. A gold bangle of the same design and the same weight which is not hallmarked will cost around Rs 21,500. Therefore, consumers tend to buy the non-hallmarked jewellery as they can save up to Rs 1,500 on gold worth 36 grams.
Tanishq retail operations and sales head V Govindraj told FE, The concept of hallmarking is good. But it does very little to the industry and the consumers as it is not distributed evenly and lacks transparency. As per the rules today jewellers can get certified from a hallmarking agency even for a small stock of their jewellery. But quite a few of them misuse the licence to sell their whole jewellery as hallmarked, Mr Govindraj said.
In India, hallmarking is done based on the specifications given by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), according to which gold jewellery with 91.6 per cent gold can be hallmarked. However, with a fragmented industry spread across the country and just around 11 certifying agencies, implementation is a complex process. Logistics is a major issue even if jewellers are interested. Despite having quite a few players, Bangalore does not have a certifying agency. Cost is also a major factor which deters jewellers for getting the stocks hallmarked. It takes around Rs 30 to 40 to test a piece of jewellery. In this scenario, a complete hallmarking system covering the while industry is almost impossible, he added.
Tanishq, however, has its own hallmarking standards, which according to Mr Govindraj, is above the specifications given by BIS. According to our standards, for 22 carat gold which is 91.6 per cent gold, we keep 0.1 per cent more during the manufacturing process. There is stringent control from the beginning - the company follows the fire assay standard set by ISO and World Gold Council (WGC) for analysis, he said. Tanishq jewellery is 100 per cent hallmarked and for each piece a certificate of caratage is given, he added.
However, says a jeweller: Consumers dont realise that they actually end up losing a lot of money at the time of selling the jewellery which is not hallmarked. Since hallmarked jewellery come with an assurance of the purity and the caratage of the gold, it enables the customer to sell the jewellery at the prevailing gold price minus the making charges. But in the case of non-hallmarked jewellery, the purity and the caratage of the metal is not assured and therefore, the customer gets considerably a less amount while selling the jewellery.