The move will go a long way in safeguarding consumer interests and end the arbitrariness in establishing purity of the precious metal at the point of sale.
In a major decision which will impact jewellers, gold buyers and those who invest in gold, the government has notified that only hallmarked gold and jewellery will be sold in the country from 15 January 2021 onwards. With it the government has also mandated that hallmarked gold articles in only three grades — 14, 18 and 22 carats — will be sold, and that too only by registered jewellers. The directive will also end the 10 hallmark grades prevalent in the country now. The move will go a long way in safeguarding consumer interests and end the arbitrariness in establishing purity of the precious metal at the point of sale.
At present, gold buyers are discouraged from hallmarking their gold jewellery by jewellers on the pretext that the buyers will have to foot the bill to obtain the certification and the process is time consuming. As a safeguard against this, the government plans to set up a hallmarking centre in every district of the country to make the process quicker and transparent.
At the announcement of this directive, Ramvilas Paswan, the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, said: “The purpose of making hallmarking mandatory for gold jewelry and artefacts is to ensure that consumers are not cheated while buying gold ornaments and get the purity as marked on the ornaments.”
‘Hallmarking’ or certification of purity of gold is at present a completely voluntary exercise wherein the onus lies on the gold buyer to insist on getting their purchase certified for purity. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) runs the exercise of hallmarking gold jewellery brought to it by jewellers, and PTI reports that currently only 40 per cent of gold sold and purchased in the country is hallmarked.
This directive earmarks that hallmarked gold jewellery consist of four components — BIS mark; purity in carat and fineness; assaying and hallmarking centre’s identification mark/number and the identification mark/number of the jeweller.
However, the directive exempts from hallmarking any gold article weighing less than two grams and meant for export in the form of a consignment from outside India to an assaying and hallmarking centre in India.
Also articles meant for medical, dental, veterinary, scientific or industrial purposes, unfinished gold articles and gold thread will be exempt from hallmarking, the notification said.
Somasundaram PR, Managing Director of World Gold Council India, reacted favourably to the directive and told PTI that the time frame of one year for implementation would give the industry ample time to sell the existing inventory and plug gaps in infrastructure and prepare logistics for its implementation.
He also welcomed the move saying that if enforced tightly it would build trust among consumers for jewellers, boost market for Indian hand-crafted gold material and safeguard interests of consumers, especially women who invest their hard-earned savings in gold.
Somasundaram added that the move to make hallmarking necessary would help create jobs in gold assaying and create a level playing field for smaller jewellers.
Currently there are 892 assaying and hallmarking centres in 234 district locations, and 28,849 BIS registered jewellers.