Commodity Analysis

Hallmarking: Gold standard in jewellery

Bavadharini KS | Updated on October 20, 2019 Published on October 20, 2019

With its four components, the BIS mark certifies the purity of gold in ornaments

Swetha is one among millions of Indian women who adore gold. She is going for gold jewellery this festival season as well. Swetha, like scores of others, is, however, unsure of how to determine the purity of gold ornaments she plans to buy. . Here is a low-down on purchase of gold ornaments, the right way.

Gold quality standards

Hallmarks are official marks used in many countries as a guarantee of purity or fineness of precious metal articles. In India, two precious metals — gold and silver — are under the purview of hallmarking.

The hallmark is a symbol that certifies the purity of gold jewellery, coins and medallions. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the national body for standards, gives this certification.

So, if you are buying gold, look for BIS-certified hallmark. It has four key components — the BIS mark, the fineness number, the assaying and hallmarking centre’s mark and the jeweller’s identification mark. These marks are an indication that you don’t end up buying gold of inferior quality. These marks are usually applied to all parts of the gold article that can be detached except lightweight items and bangles.

Since January 2017, gold hallmark is being given for only three levels of purity for jewellery and artefacts — 22K916 (22 carat), 18K750 (18 carat) and 14K585 (14 carat). And BIS permits the sale of only these three varieties.

Hallmarking for gold medallions (in the shape of coins) of 999 and 995 fineness is also permitted.

How to verify hallmark?

The BIS mark: Any gold jewellery that is hallmarked by BIS will bear its logo, a triangle. It shows that the jewellery has been assessed and verified by the authority.

Carat and fineness number: This is usually measured in carat (KT) and fineness number. A 24KT is considered to be the purest form of gold. But this type of gold is lesser in density compared to other carat (say, 22KT) and hence, too soft for regular forms of jewellery. Coins and bands are mostly in 24KT purity. Certain metals such as copper and silver are added to gold to make it durable. For instance, if a jeweller says 22 carat (22K) gold, it contains, 91.7 per cent gold and may contain 5 per cent silver, 2 per cent copper and 1.3 per cent zinc. Fineness number is also another way to measure gold’s purity. It is measured in parts per thousand. According to the World Gold Council, 24KT should be 1 (24/24), but there is likely to be slight impurity in any gold; it can only be refined to a fineness level of 999.9 parts per thousand. So, a 22KT is 0.916 (22/24).

Identification marks: Another component to look for is the assaying and hallmark centre’s mark or number and the jeweller’s identification mark. It is important to note that the jewellery is hallmarked by BIS-recognised assaying and hallmarking centres and not by jewellers. There are 400-plus centres in the country with about 40 per cent of them in the southern states.

Grievance mechanism

Since hallmarking in India is optional, some jewellers may not have any certification. It is recommended that you look for BIS stamp and its components. The cost of hallmarking doesn’t usually impact the price of jewellery.

BIS conducts regular surveillance audits of assaying and hallmarking centres, testing random market samples from licensed jewellers. But if you had purchased a gold ornament and are not sure of its purity, you can have it tested in an assaying and hallmark centre for a fee. The centre is expected to undertake testing of jewellery on priority basis and issue a report. In case the hallmarked jewellery is found to be of lesser purity, the testing charges will be refunded and the jeweller is obliged to replace the item to satisfy the consumer.

Published on October 20, 2019
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