What is hallmarking?
Hallmarking had a long history dating back to 1300 A.D. introduced by the Britishers and gradually progressed to the Hallmarking Act 1973. The term refers to the mark which is imprinted on a precious metal namely gold, silver, platinum or palladium. The mark shows that the piece of metal has been independently tested and verified by all legal standards of purity. The process is very important for all the precious metals to go through as such defines the fitness of the article for it to be sold in the market. Using hallmarking is a legal requirement for all items if the items are to be sold. If the article is not marked then the seller is breaking the law. There has been a rise in jewellery being sold online the buyers have also become vigilant about whether the product being sold is genuine or not.
History of Jewellery Hallmarking
The concept dates back to 1238 A.D. when it was the first time when standards for gold and silver were laid down. Soon after the concept was legally recognized in 1300 A.D. by a statute of Edward I. under the Act of 1973 it was mandatory by the British Hallmarking Council for the dealers to display a notice explaining the hallmarks. In the early stage, the very first acceptable standard for silver was marked as 92.5 per cent (sterling) and 83 per cent for gold. The Act was introduced to protect the manufacturers and designers to guarantee its customers the specified purity of the item that is bought. The United Kingdom was the very first country to introduce the regulations as some of the strictest in the world.
The regulations have changed a lot in these past few years today, there is no compulsion to have a pictorial fitness mark when jewellery is hallmarked. The process is rather simple now.
Hallmarking Process under the Bureau of Indian Standards
The Government of India planned on making the process easy and quick to establish transparency and thus BIS introduced such a process to safeguard the interest of buyers in the Indian economy. The buyers were often discouraged by the makers as the process of hallmarking added costs and delayed delivery. India uses sues the Bureau of Indian Standards hallmarking system to certify the purity of gold and silver metal. The authority works under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India which sets certain standards for such types of articles. This marking process also has alignment with the international hallmarking criteria.
The process takes place in three categories 14 carats, 18 carats and 22 carats and three steps of purity, homogeneity testing and marking of individual items. Herein, in the process of homogeneity, the samples are simply tested and taken to the next step where they are preliminarily tested. The next is to check the purity by taking a small sample of the item for detailed testing. The final step is carried out by intensely gauging the mental which takes five to six hours before the item is to be hallmarked. The ready item carries four marks namely the BIS mark, purity in carat, jeweller’s mark of identification and assay center name.
New gold hallmarking rules
In India, the government has made it mandatory that from January 15, 2021, only hallmarked jewelry of gold and silver will be sold in the country. There are about 892 assaying and 234 hallmarking centres that carry out this process for 28,849 BIS registered jewellers. In the first phase of development dated 4th April 2022 under the Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery and Gold Artefacts Order in clause 1A, jewellers must sell only hallmarked artefacts and jewellery from the first day of June. Further, the second phase covered three additional cartages of gold artefacts in 20, 23 and 24 carats mentioned under the standard IS 1417 of BIS. The rule restricts the registration where it is mandatory to hallmark the article for it to be sold.
Hallmarking is not mandatory for certain articles
In the year 2021, the government has made it mandatory that from 16 June for all jewellers to only sell hallmarked goods. New symbols have been introduced namely a six-digit alphanumeric code, purity grade and BIS logo for hallmark. Moreover, there are a few articles introduced which do not require hallmarking such as:
- Any article of gold thread
- Kundan, Polki and Jadaau
- Gold watch, fountain pen, bar, plate, sheet, foil, rod, wire, strip, tube, coin and gold article weight in less than two grams.
- Jewellery for an international exhibition
- Gold items have an annual turnover of 40 lakh
- Jewellery for domestic business to business exhibitions
- Ant item used for medical, dental, industrial purposes and veterinary.
- For Government export and reimport of jewellery as per Trade Policy
- Any article that needs to be further manufactured and is not substantially complete
- Any article is in course of consignment from outside India to a centre of hallmarking in India.
Role of Consumer Protection
The process authorized by the Government under the supervision of Bis Recognized Assaying & Hallmarking Centre is consumer-centric on a chargeable basis. If there is any lesser purity found on the marked jewellery the consumer is entitled to compensation which shall be less than two times the amount of the difference based on purity for the weight of the article sold. the consumers are provided with a facility wherein under BIS CARE an official mobile app verifies the item bearing the number HUID, where the purity of the item can be verified by the buyer before purchase.
Hallmarking is a process of purification and verification wherein articles such as gold, platinum, silver, etc so that consumers can be safe when they are purchasing a genuine and legitimate product. The principal objective of the Hallmarking Scheme is to protect the public against adulteration to maintain legal standards of fineness. This process of accurate determination is a vital part of when an article is being purchased.
Bureau of Indian Standards https://www.bis.gov.in/index.php/hallmarking-overview/consumer-protection/
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