The central government is “actively considering” introduction of a nine-digit alphanumeric identity code for every jewellery item manufactured in India, to fix purity and traceability. The code is proposed to be encrypted on every ornament. The major aim is to protect consumers from being duped, through tracing of the origin, certifying and assaying of ornaments. At present, some organised retailers sell ornaments with the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) hallmark, at a premium to local jewellers. Mandating an alphanumeric code is an attempt to fix a uniform standard for ornaments and make these resaleable at a uniform price. Currently, prices vary from one jeweller to another and so do ornaments’ resale value. Raosaheb Patil Danve, the Union minister of state for consumer affairs, said in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, “The government is actively considering a proposal under which all hallmarking and assaying centres will assign a unique nine-character code to jewellery, for purity and traceability.”
According to trade sources, the proposal came from the ministry of consumer affairs itself. However, the jewellery industry has protested. “Implementation is next to impossible. There are over one million jewellery retailers. The outcome of the government’s efforts will have no outcome,” said Rajesh Mehta, managing director of Rajesh Exports, which owns around 60 retail jewellery stores. According to industry sources, the hallmarking of a renowned jeweller is duplicated by smaller ones to fetch the premium the former enjoys. The government wants to do away with duplication. “The government does not have adequate infrastructure. In remote places, the assaying and certifying centres exist at a distance of over 100 km. Transporting all jewellery to the assaying centre will not only be difficult but risky. Who will be accountable for any theft or any such incidence? The government should continue with the existing system until there is adequate infrastructure,” said Haresh Soni, chairman, All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation.