‘Hallmarking should be made a law’
What are the functions and guidelines of hallmarking?
Hallmarking checks the purity and fineness of precious metals like gold and silver available at the jewellery stores .It must be marked with certain purity for 20 or 22 carat gold. These have to be assessed in independent labs which are called assaying centres, which take security of that precious metal. Here various signs are put on the jewellery showing BIS Logo, logo of the jeweller, logo of hallmarking centre, purity which has been found after assaying and the year when it is marked. This is the hallmark which customers must see when they buy jewellery and the hallmarking of that jewellery which ensure that whatever is marked on the metal is being actually offered to the customers. It gives confidence to the customers that they are buying authentic metal.
What new initiatives have been taken in hallmarking procedure?
We have introduced the concept of UID (Unique Identification) numbers which is marked on each gold item by hallmarking centre so as to make it traceable to centre’s records. Along with this, a card is also being offered mentioning the UID, weight of gold and the photo of the item bought. Once purchased the customers can easily check and verify the authenticity of the metal on the BIS website.
What steps are being taken to make consumers aware about hallmarking?
We are launching several awareness programmes and campaigns on TV, radio and newspapers. We have realised that while people understood hallmarking procedure, they don’t know about what kind of markings are available on the metal. So, now we are trying to educate both jewellers and consumers through massive campaigns and ads on what five signs they should see on the metal. Also, that people are able to distinguish between fake and genuine hallmarking.
Has there been enough growth of hallmarking centres in India?
There has been 30 per cent growth in hallmarking centres to what it was several years ago. It shows increase in market share since 2008 through various awareness programmes that have generated enough interest among people. Now, I would like to win more confidence of people like if somebody has hallmark jewellery he should get loan from the banks against that metal without any independent assessment to check the purity of the gold. This scenario is quite common abroad in countries like Turkey and China. We hope that it catches up pace in India soon too.
Do we have 100 per cent hallmarking facility at all jewellery outlets?
Not at the moment. As of now, it’s not compulsory and rather voluntary for jewellery store owners. A lot depends on the customer demands. The jeweller will offer only when customer will demand it, so when the demand will be created the store owners would automatically offer hallmarking. It is the wide gap between demand and supply that we aim to bridge it. So at the moment, we are focusing on the demand being generated among consumers. Besides consumers are also often misled by the jewellers saying its an expensive process, while hallmarking charges are just Rs 25.
In addition, consumers must know that the process takes about 6-7 hours easily and is not instant. We intend to have a law about this and we are going to present the bill regarding the same in the Parliament now.