The jewellery industry plans to seek a three-month extension on implementation of mandatory gold jewellery hallmarking, which was to be rolled out from April.
The industry has to re-hallmark 20-25 per cent of its inventory with the six-digit alpha numeric unique identification number by the end of this month.
Once hallmarked with HUID, consumers can verify details such as type of jewellery, purity, name of assaying and hallmarking centre (AHC), seller’s name and date of hallmarking, through the BIS care app.
Chairman of the All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council, Saiyam Mehra, said its members met officials in the Consumer Affairs Ministry in January seeking an extension to June, and will soon write an official letter listing the difficulties in meeting the deadline.
The industry has to re-hallmark about 20-25 per cent of its inventory with HUID, which would take at least three months to process, he said.
The AHCs’ hallmarking charge of Rs 45 per piece should also be reduced to Rs 10 as the inventory was already hallmarked with the jewellers’ name, he said.
In a bid to reduce costs, GJC has moved the Bureau of Indian Standards to open 40 hallmarking centres that would offer the service for Rs 25 a piece, he added.
The current infrastructure is insufficient to implement mandatory hallmarking across India. The industry would be at the mercy of surveillance authorities if the government goes ahead with the pre-determined deadline, said Mehra.
With mandatory hallmarking, the government hopes to clamp down on gold entering the retail market through smuggling and other ‘parallel’ channels.
World Gold Council CEO, Somasundaram PR, said based on trade submissions, the government had allowed sale of inventories without HUID for the last two years.
The decision to sell only HUID jewellery will bring much-needed transparency for consumers and has the potential to be adopted by the gold retail trade globally, he added.
Around 339 of the 766 districts in the country are under voluntary hallmarking and the industry is awaiting a government notification to see whether it will be made mandatory across all districts.
James Jose, Vice-President, the Indian Association of Hallmarking Centres, said when the government announced plans for mandatory hallmarking two years ago, there were 1,000 hallmarking centres; today there are about 1,500 centres, which can hallmark about one crore pieces or about 100 tonnes a month.
However, this may not be enough to roll out HUID across the country. The industry needs more incentives to open centres in smaller cities, as the business generated there is very low, he added.