Gold & Silver

Legal recognition of hallmarked jewellery, precious metals in the offing

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 02, 2014 Published on December 02, 2014

Display of gold jewellery in Hyderabad. Photo: G. Ramakrishna   -  THE HINDU

Standards should make it easier for consumers to assess product quality

The Bureau of Indian Standards Act (BIS Act, 1986) will enable hallmarking of precious metals and jewellery, including gold, by providing ‘legal recognition’ through amending the Act. On making the process mandatory, the Government will only take a call after further assessment of consumer needs by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

The BIS, which will now be positioned as the National Standards Body of India, currently certifies gold quality of as low as nine carat (K). Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan doubted that jewellers were disclosing quality grades to consumers.

“Till today, I had only heard of 18K to 24K gold. But I was told here that grades are as low as 9K. We need consumers to easily understand what is being sold and such distinctions are not clear when someone visits a shop to buy gold,” he said at a meeting today of stakeholders on the amendment of the BIS Act.

“By amending the Act, legal status is being given to gold hallmarking. It will remain a voluntary standard,” he added.

G Gurucharan, Additional Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, said there were two related concepts in setting standards for gold jewellery.

“One, there are tests for the purity and the other is the hallmark that guarantees quality assurance. BIS identifies hallmarking centres and gives recognition. All jewellery that is sold then is guaranteed as to the quality. We will work out the issue of making it mandatory after further consultation,” he said.

Hallmarking of gold jewellery, which assures customers of its purity, was introduced in 2000; jewellers are required to get licences from the BIS and get goods hallmarked by one of 300 BIS-authorised centres. According to the standards authority, there are almost 13,000 licensed domestic jewellers. The sellers can be penalised through a fine or have their licences revoked if they are found misusing the license.

Global branding

“We’ve been talking about ‘Make in India’ and standards should be good enough for it to become a brand globally. There are three issues — standards on which there should be no compromise, procedures that should be simplified and ease of understanding for consumers,” said Paswan, adding that the amendments, which include expanding the number of products covered for mandatory standards from 102 to 2,300, would be brought before the Cabinet at the earliest.

Published on December 02, 2014
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