It’s not uncommon to find people who realize their gold ornaments are not pure only when they go to sell them. The fact notwithstanding that Indians are the second biggest consumers of gold in the world, majority of the gold that we buy in the form of jewellery is not certified for purity. Gold jewellery has to be hallmarked to certify its purity, but how often do we take care of such details?
Well soon enough it may become the norm as the government is planning to make hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts compulsory from early next year. The government will issue a notification with regards to hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts on 15th January 2020, said Danve Raosaheb Dadarao, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on 6th December.
“This move will benefit the consumers as hallmarking of jewellery will bring in transparency and bring in trust factor among the consumers as they can now be assured that the gold jewellery they are buying is certified for purity,” siad Prithviraj Kothari, national president, India Bullion and Jeweller Association. Currently hallmarking of jewellery is voluntary and a very small percentage of jewellers sell hallmarked jewellery.
“Transparency is not there. A fair amount of impurities are being sold to the consumers right now. This move is in the right direction and was much needed,” said Sandeep Kulhalli, senior vice president, retail and marketing, jewellery division, Titan Company Limited. According to Kothari, there are over three lakh jewellers and only around 30,000 are registered with the Bureau of Indian Standards. Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the accreditation agency in India which certifies the assaying and hallmarking centers.
A jeweller needs to obtain a licence from BIS and after that it can get the jewellery hallmarked through any of the BIS recognised assaying and hallmarking centers. As on 31 Oct 2019, 877 assaying and hallmarking centres have been recognized by BIS.
How to check if your gold jewellery is pure
Many jewellers sell hallmarked jewellery. If you are holding a jewellery or planning to buy you can check beforehand if your jewellery is hallmark certified or not. Here’s how.
First you need to understand that the purity of the yellow metal is measured in caratage. The gold in the purest form is of 24 carat, but it’s not possible to make jewellery as 24 carat gold is too soft. Typically, jewellery is made from a gold whose purity ranges between 14K and 22K. Hallmarking of jewellery is done in three categories- 14k, 18k and 22K.
In percentage terms, 14k would mean 58.5 % purity (denoted by 585 ), 18k would mean 75% purity (denoted by 750) and 22k would mean 91.6% (denoted by 916) purity.
While buying a hallmarked jewellery, you need to look at four things– BIS logo (a triangle), purity of gold (916 for 22carat gold), assaying or hallmarking center’s mark, and jeweller’s identification mark. This will usually be engraved in the ornament.
Hallmark is important to be assured of the purity and it’s likely to become mandatory once the government comes up with a notification. So make it a habit to look for hallmark, after all you are buying some very expensive item that someday may become the family heirloom.