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Govt to make hallmarking of jewellery mandatory, small retailers seek time

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The government is giving final touches to implementing mandatory hallmarking of jewellery and an announcement is expected any time, sources said.

The sources said hallmarking will be implemented for 14-, 18- or 22-carat jewellery, and the government is also finalising a proposal that prescribes unique identification for each piece of hallmarked jewellery.

The government notified regulations for hallmarking gold and silver jewellery in June, but a decision to implement them was pending because the consumer affairs ministry was awaiting legal clarity.

Jewellers now sell hallmarked- and non-hallmarked jewellery, with some displaying signboards that say their merchandise has Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) certification when they don’t have BIS registration.

A BIS notice on Friday night warned against such practice. “BIS Act 2016 and BIS regulations 2018 have enabled central government to BIS hallmarking mandatory for jewellers,” said the notice.

BIS also said only licensed jewellers can stock hallmarked gold jewellery or advertise about it. The bureau also said it has the power to raid and seize spuriously hallmarked jewellery.

The BIS warning comes before hallmarking becomes mandatory and “this is a smart way to protect consumers”, said Sudheesh Nambiath, head of India Gold Policy Centre set up by Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad.

Experts say if mandatory hallmarking is delayed by any chance, the BIS warning will create awareness. The bill or invoice of sale of hallmarked precious metal articles shall describe each article, net weight of precious metal, purity in carat and fineness, and hallmarking charges.

“Hallmarking centers are prepared to handle whatever addition work comes to them, whenever the government decides to make hallmarking mandatory,” said Harshad Ajmera, president of Indian Association of Hallmarking Centers.

India has 750 hallmarking and assaying centers and 100 are in pipeline.

In 2017-18, as many as 415,000 pieces of jewellery—approximately 500 tons–was hallmarked in India. Comparatively, more than 1,200 tons jewellery is made annually in India—a figure that includes recyling.

Ajmera said that hallmarking centres are using only 10 per cent to 20 per cent capacity and this was unviable. Small jewellers, however, fear mandatory hallmarking could hurt them when they are competing against big retail show rooms.

“We are hopeful that government will give time at least six-month time to dispose off or melt other carat gold jewellery which are not 14, 18 or 22 carat before making it mandatory,” said Surendra Mehta, national secretary of Indian Bullion and Jewellers Association.

“We also hope that hallmarking shall be made mandatory in the phased manner starting with metropolitan cities where there are more hallmarking centres. We would also like 20 and 24 carats to be included in mandatory hallmarking category,” said Mehta.

Courtesy: Business Standard

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