Hallmarking of Precious Metals – A Right Approach

The Union Cabinet of India, last month, has approved a proposal by the Consumer Affair Ministry of India to make mandatory hallmarking for precious metal articles. Currently, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), provides certification for hallmarking of gold jewellery, but this is only voluntary. The new proposal aims at making this voluntary affair compulsory to standardize the gold jewellery market. Now the question is, what is hallmarking?
Hallmarking, in simple terms, is purity certification of gold articles. This system is being followed by various countries to safeguard purchaser’s risk of buying impure or adulterated gold. In India, BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards), appointed by Government of India, provides licence to jewellers under the BIS Hallmarking Scheme. The BIS certified jewellers can get their jewellery hallmarked from any of the BIS recognized Assaying and Hallmarking Centre. BIS certificate guarantees the fineness and purity of the metal in conformity with national and international standard. The BIS Hallmarking Scheme has been aligned with International criteria on hallmarking (Vienna Convention 1972), thus authenticates the ‘standard’ itself.
When a consumer is looking for hallmarked gold jewellery, he or she has to check five basic components, viz, BIS Mark, the fineness number (corresponding to given caratage), the Assaying and Hallmarking Centre’s Mark, Jeweller’s identification Mark and year of marking denoted by a code letter and decided by BIS. For example, BIS approved code letter ‘A’ for the year 2000, ‘B’ for the year 2001 and so on. The marking is done either using punches or laser marking machine.
At present, jewellers, (retailer/manufacturer) who want to obtain this certification, have to apply to BIS. BIS usually takes 7 days to grant the licence if the necessary documents and fees are submitted and paid to BIS properly.
After grant of licence, the jeweller (retailer/manufacturer) has to follow a BIS approved Scheme for certification. A BIS certified jeweller has the liberty to register himself with any of the BIS recognized Assaying and Hallmarking Centres to get his jewellery hallmarked. BIS conducts periodic surveys on retail outlet/manufacturing premises and having it tested to ensure the quality standards. BIS may decide to cancel the licence at any point if the retailer or manufacturer is found deviating from degree of purity fineness of the metal.
Similarly, an Assaying centre wants to obtain the Hallmarking Licence has to apply to BIS. After ensuring the adequacy of the Quality Manual documented by the Centre with respect to all the requirements of the BIS criteria and commitment of top management to implement Quality management system, BIS arranges a preliminary visit of the centre. The centre then carries out the assessment which includes implementation of the documented system, availability of sampling and hallmarking facilities, availability of complete testing facilities as per IS 1417:1999 and IS 1418:1999, competence of manpower and their training, availability of adequate safety and security arrangement and commitment to follow BIS guidelines issued from time to time is ensured. If everything is found satisfactory in the assessment, BIS then grants the licence for 3 years. The recognition of the hallmarking centre after 3 years is renewed based on the satisfactory performance during surveillance assessment.
Hallmarking system is an excellent opportunity to gain competitiveness at the marketplace for jewellery exporters. The Hallmarking system will help consumers in making objective decisions based on the quality of jewellery.

Source: Bullion Bulletin

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