Over 1,000 jewellers in Chennai partially shut their shops between 9:00 am and 11:30 am on Monday as a token protest against the ‘arbitrary’ implementation of the new hallmarking process that requires them to obtain a Hallmarking Unique ID (HUID), a 6-digit code, for every piece of hallmarked gold article they sell.

The Chennai Jewellers Association (CJA) called for the strike to strengthen the nationwide protest to be observed on the same day as announced by the National Task Force on Hallmarking which comprises members of the gems & jewellery associations across the country.

Uday Vummidi, President, CJA, said that gold hallmarking, a purity certification of the precious metal, was voluntary in India. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) made gold hallmarking mandatory from June 16, 2021, in about 256 districts across the country that have Assaying and Hallmarking Centres.

Capacity inadequacy

However, due to capacity inadequacy, 16 to 18 crore pieces are lying idle without getting hallmarked. There is an estimated 3-year backlog, as the current capacity of hallmarking centres is only about 2 lakh pieces/day. At this speed, it will take almost 3-4 years to mark the existing stock.

Jayantilal Challani, President, The Jewellers and Diamond Traders Association, said, “HUID is arbitrary. It is unfriendly to customers and detrimental to the growth of the industry — especially, the small and medium family jewellers. It is impractical and not implementable.”

Across India over 47,000 registered jewellers, on an average, are each holding 10 kg non-hallmarked inventory which amounts to 470 tonnes of inventory. About 6.7 crore pieces of jewellery, weighing 7 grams each, are lying with newly registered jewellers for hallmarking, he added.