The central government is finalising the rules on compulsory hallmarking of jewellery, with hallmarking centres certifying 14-, 18- and 22-carat jewellery. For coins and bars, self-certification by refineries will be permitted.
The industry has already started voicing its opinion against several proposals. India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) has said: "Self-certification of coins by refineries contravenes the basic purpose of a certifying agency. Self-certification without any third-party intervention can be risky and refiners can misuse it."
Surendra Mehta, national secretary, IBJA, says: "Coins from 0.1 gram to 100 grams must be hallmarked by approved centres."
Sources say the government is allowing refineries to self-certify hallmarking of coins because they will also have to take Bureau of Indian Standards registration and work is on to ensure they follow global best practices on good delivery and so on.
Rajesh Khosla, chairman emeritus of MMTC PAMP and president of the Association of Gold Refineries and Mints, says: "Gold jewellery is of different caratage; hence, hallmarking applies. Gold coins are of 999 or 9,999-purity, akin to bullion but in minted form; here, the manufacturer's mark has credibility. Gold coins will always have purity, weight and manufacturer's logo inscribed on the face. Some manufacturers will further package in assay-certified packaging, protecting the product from damage or substitution."
IBJA goes further and says there's a need to increase the number of hallmarking centres from 490 at present to 1,200 and to bring them closer to the place of manufacture. It also wants permission to hallmark 20-, 23- and 24-carat jewellery, to suit regional and religious needs.