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Govt to introduce alfa-numeric code for jewellery soon

Industry protests, says govt should continue with BIS hallmark

Dilip Kumar Jha  |  Mumbai 

Gold jewellery
Image via Shutterstock

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.”

  • Govt to issue UID code for every jewellery item
  • The code could be of nine digits
  • Govt attempts to fix traceability and accountability of jewellers
  • Protesters say not implementable; first improve infrastructure, surveillance, they say
  • According to industry sources, the hallmarking of a renowned jeweller is duplicated by smaller ones to fetch the premium the former enjoys

BIS has issued around 14,000 licences to assayers and certification agencies since jewellery hallmarking was sought to be made mandatory in 2000. The agency has achieved around 30 per cent of hallmarking of ornaments made in India.

“There have been numerous complaints filed with the government on cheating by jewellers, with a claim of higher caratage of gold in ornaments. In consumers’ re-selling, the same jewellery is authenticated to be of lower caratage and, therefore, a cut in its value. Also, there has been fake hallmarking,” said a noted jeweller. 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.

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First Published: Wed, December 24 2014. 22:35 IST