An order from the Indian government making the hallmarking of gold and silver jewellery mandatory is imminent, reports the Business Standard. The government had notified regulations for the mandatory hallmarking of gold and silver jewellery last June and Food and Consumers Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had said in November that an order mandating hallmarking was “coming soon”.
The hallmarking will be administered by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which comes under the Food and Consumers Affairs Ministry. The BIS has been ready with standards for 14-, 18- and 22-karat gold, but the ministry has held back until now while it sought legal clarifications regarding the proposed order.
Many Indian jewellery retailers sell both hallmarked and non-hallmarked jewellery, with some displaying signage stating their product has BIS certification. The BIS, however, warned against this practice, issuing a notice last Friday that cited the BIS Act of 2016 and the BIS Regulations of 2018, stating that hallmarking of all product would be mandatory.
India produces jewellery that consumes 1,200 tonnes of gold (the figure includes recycled gold), but in fiscal 2017-18, only some 415,000 pieces of jewellery, whci account for just 500 tonnes of gold, was hallmarked.
The country has 750 hallmarking and assaying centres and another 100 are being readied. These centres are, however, currently operating at just 10- and 20 percent of their rated capacity, according to Harshad Ajmera of the Indian Association of Hallmarking Centres. Given this, he said, there would be no process capacity issues if a mandatory hallmarking order was issued.
Small retailers, however, fear that mandatory hallmarking will hurt their businesses and are seeking more time from the government. Indian Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) National Secretary Surendra Mehta was quoted as saying retailers were hopeful they would get a six-month period in which to either sell or recycle stock that was not in any of the three specified karatages.
Mehta said he hoped the government would phase in hallmarking with the metropolitan cities, which have the most hallmarking centres. He added that retailers were also seeking the addition of 20- and 24-karat products to the hallmarking standards list.