Thursday, 31 August 2006

BIS makes hallmarking compulsory for gold jewellery

2006
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 31: With the Indian jewellery market taking a giant leap forward in recent times, the Bureau of Indian Standards proposes to make mandatory certification of gold and silver ornaments and artefacts.
If the BIS has its say, only Hallmarked jewellery will have to be sold in the Indian market. The BIS came out with a draft Bureau of Indian Standards (Hallmarking of Precious Metals) Regulations, 2006 under BIS Act, 1986 and invited suggestions and comments from all stakeholders across the country. Thursday (August 31) was the last date for receipt of comments on the draft regulations. After taking these suggestions into consideration, the BIS will formulate its new regulations.
The BIS took up the proposal following complaints from different quarters on the quality of gold and silver jewellery available in the country. As a run up to the proposed mandatory certification, it has acquired country-wide infrastructure for assaying and hallmarking of jewellery. In a recent nation-wide survey carried out by the BIS at select centres including Hyderabad, it was found that not even a single piece of jewellery purchased by BIS inspectors (posing as common customers) in Hyderabad, Kolkata and Jaipur was of 22 carat purity as claimed by jewellers.
The BIS study showed that 88 per cent of the jewellers surveyed by BIS inspectors failed to follow the purity levels of gold articles. The BIS introduced Hallmarking concept six years ago and at present Hallmarking is purely optional and it is not binding on jewellers.
After the regulations come into force, jewellers will have to register themselves with the BIS and produce their jewellery samples for BIS Hallmarking and certification on purity of gold/silver used.
In all 1890 jewellers across the country have taken licence for Hallmarking of gold jewellery and 65 jewellers for silver jewellery and artefacts. The BIS has recognised 37 Hallmarking centres.
India is the largest consumer of gold in the world with people purchasing jewellery weighing a whopping 850 tonnes every year and more than one lakh jewellery making units catering to their needs. In the absence of rules for compulsory Hallmarking of jewellery, it is estimated that unscrupulous jewellers make a profit of about Rs 40,000 crore every year by knocking of 12.5 per cent gold from unsuspecting customers through reduction in purity.
The World Gold Council had noted that India would emerge as a major market centre for gold if jewellers here maintained international hallmarking standards.

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