Jewellers across the country won’t be able to sell gold jewellery without ‘hallmarking’ from January 15 next year, and any violation of this rule will attract a penalty and imprisonment of one year. Similarly, jewellery and artifacts made of only 14 or 18 or 22 carat gold will be available in the market from mid-January 2021.
Announcing the decision on Tuesday, consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said jewellers have been given one year time to register with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and clear their stocks if not hallmarked yet. This will help the consumers to trust the purity of the gold jewellery. The notification to make mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery from January 15, 2021 will be issued on Thursday by the consumer affairs ministry.
Gold hallmarking, started since 2000, is optional for the jewellers until now and around 40% of gold jewellery is getting hallmarked currently. Under this plan, jewellers obtain hallmark certificate through any of the 892 assaying and hallmarking centres spread over 234 districts for every piece of gold item they sell. So far, 28,849 jewellers have been registered with BIS under the hallmarking scheme. It is a purity certification only used for the precious metal.
“We are targeting to open hallmarking centres in all districts of the country and register all jewellers during this one year window,” Paswan said. The mandatory hallmarking will protect the public against lower carat and ensure consumers do not get cheated while buying gold ornaments. Instead of ten grades available until now, hallmarked gold jewellery will be only in three grades – 14-carat, 18-carat and 22-carat after the rule is enforced, he said. The minister also added that consumers would not face any difficulty in exchanging their old jewelleries as the rule is applicable only on sales by retailers.
India is the world’s largest importer of gold, with an annual imports of 700-800 tonne. According to the World Gold Council data, India’s cumulative gold import declined to 502.9 tonne during January-September 2019 from 587.3 tonne in the year-ago period.
On the penal action against violators, a senior BIS official said penalty would be Rs 1 lakh to five times of the value of the jewellery item and also one year jail term. The government had earlier informed the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which put it on its website in October last year. This is a mandatory compliance norm to help exporters get to know the changes in advance in any importing country.