With the inauguration of a hallmarking centre in Idukki, Kerala became the first state in India to have hallmarking centres in all 14 districts.
The opening of hallmarking centres across the districts will make Kerala a hub of gold business and further strengthen its claim to being the most reliable market in the country to buy gold ornaments, said S Abdul Nassar, Treasurer, All Kerala Gold and Silver Merchants’ Association.
Quoting 2022 data, he said the gold business in Kerala is worth more than ₹1 lakh crore with annual sales of around 250 tonnes. There are about 12,000 gold merchants in the State with majority holding BIS registration. Though BIS hallmarking was applicable only to pieces above 2 grams in weight, gold merchants gave hallmarking and hallmarking unique identification numbers even for pieces with weight below two grams, he said.
However, there are some practical difficulties involved in getting single pieces hallmarked. Hallmarking was now done on a collection of pieces submitted to the centre for hallmarking. But there were situations in which the buyer might require only a custom-made single piece like a gold ring.
The facility for tracking the ornaments using the Unique ID number was not fully operational. Once hallmarked, the buyer should be able to track the pieces bought by her/him using the tracking facility. The identification number would provide the exact content of gold in the ornament, the centre of hallmarking, weight, etc, he said.
The Bureau of Indian Standards made hallmarking compulsory with a view to protect customers, especially those not aware of the market, from being taken for a ride by jewellers. Hallmarking ensures accurate determination and official recording of the proportionate content of precious metal in the jewellery, artefacts or bullion, and coins.
Mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery/artefacts was successfully implemented under the Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery and Gold Artefacts Order, 2020 in 256 districts across the country from June 23, 2021, and this has gone up to 350 districts. The number of hallmarking centres also increased from 945 to 1500, and the number of licenses availed by jewellery outlets rose to 2 lakh from 34,647 in the beginning. Around 4 lakh gold ornaments are being hallmarked in India on a daily basis, he added.