HALLMARKING OF GOLD JEWELLERY:

GUARANTEE AGAINST IRREGULAR GOLD CONTENT

 

According to a report by the Times News Network (August 5, 2002), ‘Hallmarking’ for ensuring purity of gold jewellery for the benefit of the customer still remains a far cry in a country which boasts of a thriving gold jewellery trade through a huge chain of over 20,000 jewellers in the country. With its 11 hall-marking centers spread across the country (two are likely to be added in the near future), the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has granted around 390 licences as on May 31, 2002 to the jewellers in the entire country for hall mark quality of gold purity, disclosed official sources.

 

The reasons are obvious. Though very much prevalent in the West, hallmarking has yet to take off widely in India. The consumer movement in this country is still in infancy and confined mostly to urban areas. Moreover, lack of education and consequently quality awareness has been minimal. Aware of this, BIS has introduced a special incentive to licensee jewellers that at the time of renewal of licence, a concession of Rs. 10,000 is given in renewal fee for the next operative year, in case more than 5,000 jewellery articles are hallmarked in the previous operative year. This is part of BIS's efforts to propagate the significance of hallmarking apart from taking help of consumer activists and bodies. Introduced in India on the UK standards, it is yet to pick up, confess BIS officials.

 

Disclosing the statistics of a recent sample survey conducted by BIS by collecting gold jewellery samples from shops in eight cities of the country, namely, Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Chennai and Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Bangalore revealed that 88 per cent of the samples were found to be of jewellery items which did not conform to the claimed standards by jewelers. In some cities like Hyderabad, Jaipur and Kolkata, virtually 100 per cent of the samples failed to conform to the claimed standards. Average purity of failing samples was less by 11.09 per cent. Lowest purity sample was short by as much as 38.6 per cent. As many as 43 per cent of the samples were short in purity by more than 15 per cent.

 

Lest it should be accused of bias, BIS involved the leading consumer activists from the respective cities for its survey. It further revealed that an average impurity percentage in gold jewellery beyond declared norm was about 5-6 per cent which means the consumer of gold jewellery was losing on an average Rs 230 per gram. The BIS officials say it will cost only Rs 5 per gm of jewellery to get assurance of jewellery by hallmarking. For an item of 10 gm, while customer has to pay around Rs 50 to test the quality of the gold, he is likely to lose Rs 230 on an average due to impure quality.

 

While at present the hallmarking results are made available in 48 hours, BIS has plans to bring down the time to 24 hours in near future. Hallmarking is emerging as a guarantee against irregular gold quality and a stamp of international quality levels which indicate that gold articles in a jewellery shop have been evaluated and tested at an official assaying and hallmarking centre. The centre certifies that the metal used conforms to national and international standards of fineness, and purity, says the public awareness literature released by BIS. Indians are the world's largest gold consumers with approximately 800 tonnes of gold being transacted annually in the jewellery form. The problem seems to be of infrastructure. While in India today there are over 20,000 jewellers, there are only 13 laboratory assaying and hallmarking centres in the country.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:         

FINANCEMAN ASSOCIATES acknowledges the use of various printed and electronic media for compiling the content, ideas and statistics on the gems and jewellery industry presented on this web page. We at FINANCEMAN ASSOCIATES are thankful to the industry leaders, their spokesmen, commentators in the media and experts in diamonds processing and jewellery manufacture and, specifically the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, Mumbai, for the use of published text and statistics that are in the public domain. The place of jurisdiction concerning all issues presented on this Web Page by FINANCEMAN ASSOCIATES shall be Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

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