Explainer: What does mandatory hallmarking of gold jewelry entail?

Following a directive by the Government of India, hallmarking of gold jewelry is mandatory in India since 16 June. The rule has come into effect for 256 of the total 718 districts in India. The rest will be brought under the umbrella in two phases.

Mandatory hallmarking will ensure that consumers will have no uncertainty about the quality of gold they buy. Jewellers, who can now only sell hallmarked 14, 18, and 22 carats of gold jewellery and artefacts, will have a reprieve from penalties regarding the same till August.

What is a Hallmark?

A Hallmark is a guarantee of purity or fineness provided by the Bureau of Indian Standards to precious metal articles. It accurately determines the proportionate content of precious metal in the article and records it. In this way, the customer will always have the assurance of buying quality gold articles. A hallmark acts as a stamp on the gold or silver article, attesting to its purity. In 2014, BIS announced that it would introduce a ‘Unique Identification Number’ for every hallmarked jewellery to ensure traceability and protection of the consumer against cheating.

What does it mean for consumers and sellers?

Mandatory hallmarking will provide assurance to the buyer of any gold jewellery. It’s a safeguard against adultery. Whether it is buying or selling, a person will have the guarantee of getting a fair price for their article. The Unique Identification Number can help buyers verify the quality of the jewellery. According to BIS, hallmarking provides “third party assurance and satisfaction that customer gets right purity of gold (or silver) for the given price (value for money),” and to the jewellers, “It will provide clear indication of his capability, strong evidence of commitment to quality and assurance of consistency in purity and quality of gold or silver jewellery.”

Are there any exceptions to the mandatory hallmarking?

The law is not mandatory for all. Jewellers who have less than a 40 lakh annual turnover rate are exempt. Gold watches or fountain pens and special types of jewellery like Mina, Kundan, Polki and Jadau do not fall under the rule either. Jewellers can continue buying back old jewellery without a hallmark from the consumers. Jewellery meant for international exhibitions or export, any article of gold thread and an article weighing less than two grams are also exempt from Mandatory hallmarking.

How to recognize a hallmarked jewelry

First of all, the jeweller should have a Certificate of Registration by BIS on display in the shop. There should be four signs of hallmarking on the jewellery. The seller is mandated to keep a 10X magnifying glass so that customers can check for the marks. The four signs to look for would be the BIS mark, Purity in Carat and Fineness for gold, jeweller’s identification number, and Assay centre’s identification mark.

The hallmarking charge of a silver article is Rs 25, and that of gold is Rs 35. The customer should check for this in the bill provided, along with a description of each article, net weight, and purity. Each article in a pair should have the hallmark.