Executive Summary – Gold is an important asset for Indians. We also have an emotional connect with gold. Therefore India is the largest consumer of gold. Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) provides hallmarking through recognised centres across the country to measure the purity of the gold. This facility can be used by jewellers to get licensed and by consumers to check the purity of the gold that they have purchased.
Hallmarking is a process by which one can determine and record the content of gold and how pure it is. It is mandatory to get a license as a jeweller. Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the accredited government agency provides hallmarking centres where one can go and test the purity of gold. It is used to protect consumers from unscrupulous activities that sellers might engage in and to bring about standardisation.
- Gold that has been tested by BIS is given a triangular stamp by BIS. There are some other stamps as well. The stamp depends on the hallmarking centre.
- The grade shows how pure the gold is. Here is a list of the grades and the extent of purity -
- The hallmarking centre has its own logo. Here is a list of logos and centres.
- The jeweller might have his own mark of certification which they can get once the shop is certified by BIS.
- The year of hallmarking is denoted by an alphabet. So 'A' stands for 2000 and 'R' for 2013 etc.
- A jeweller can get a license for certification of purity of gold jewellery by hallmarking his jewellery in any of the BIS authorised Assaying and Hallmarking Centres.
- BIS does an audit and surveillance of licensed jewellers and Hallmarking centres to check if they conform to standards and requirements laid down by BIS. BIS can take action against erring licensed jewellers and Hallmarking centres.
- Consumers can get the gold that they already have tested from any BIS recognised Assaying and Hallmarking Centre. If the gold is of lesser purity than what the seller promised to the customer, the testing charges will be refunded to the customer by the hallmarking centre and the seller has to make good the loss of the customer. If one does not test the gold at the time of purchase and wants to sell later, one might get a lesser value if the gold is not of the grade that one thought it was when purchased.
Consumers should remember to look for BIS Hallmark licensed jewellery shops, buy only jewellery that is certified for purity and ensure that there is an invoice for purchase so that complaints that may arise can be resolved easily. Even if the jewellers say that licensing and hallmarking are expensive, the customer must insist on such jewellery as the charges are nominal.