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Mandatory jewellery hallmarking hits industry

Suresh P Iyengar Mumbai | Updated on June 16, 2021

Only 245 districts have assaying and hallmarking units

The roll-out of mandatory gold jewellery hallmarking from Wednesday has divided the industry, with jewellers in small towns raising concerns over the lack of adequate assaying centres.

The mandatory hallmarking of jewellery was to come into force from June 1, but was put off till June 15 as the industry raised apprehensions in meeting the norms amid Covid disruption.

The industry had earlier moved the Bombay High Court against compulsory hallmarking, but it did not yield the desired result, except for the court directing the government not to take action against jewellers for non-compliance.

Demand for jewellery

Jewellery demand has already fallen sharply in last few months, with State governments imposing strict economic lockdown to control the spread of Covid.

Under the hallmarking scheme of the Bureau of Indian Standards, jewellers are registered for selling hallmarked jewellery, testing and hallmarking centres. At present, only 30 per cent of Indian gold jewellery is hallmarked.

Of the four lakh jewellers in the country, only 35,879 are certified by the BIS, as per the World Gold Council data. Similarly, only 245 districts of the overall 733 districts in the country, have assaying and hallmarking centres.

However, the government decided to roll out mandatory hallmarking, which is being postponed since January initially in 256 districts. Moreover, jewellers with an annual turnover of up to ₹40 lakh, are exempted from the rule.

Ashish Pethe, Chairman, All India Gems and Jewellery Domestic Council, said the government has been considerate to many of the industry demands and ensured that no penalty would be levied till August.

However, he said there will be discrepancies in pricing, as non-hallmarked jewellery will be sold cheaper in a few districts, but this advantage will fade away slowly.

Panel formed

Pethe said a committee constituting representatives of all stakeholders, revenue officials and legal experts, has been formed to look into the issues that may possibly emerge during the implementation of the new norms.

Tanya Rastogi, Director, Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers and IBJA, said jewellers will suffer loss in some way or the other in the process of meeting the hallmarking mandate.

Jewellers may have inventory of non-hallmarked jewellery of different caratage. This has to be melted and cast in caratage relevant to hallmarking standards, she said.

The industry has already suffered loss due to the pandemic, and this move will bleed them further, she added.

Though the move serves the larger interest of the industry, small players struggling to survive may have difficulty in adapting it, she said.

Ramesh Kalyanaraman, Executive Director, Kalyan Jewellers, said mandatory hallmarking will standardise the purity of gold jewellery and push the ongoing shift of business from the unorganised to the organised jewellery segment.

Customers will get fair value for their new jewellery and collateralised old gold, he added.

Published on June 16, 2021

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