Sources close to the development said hallmarking would be permitted in three categories of 14, 18 or 22 carat.
The government is said to be finalising a proposal that prescribes unique identification for each piece of hallmarked jewellery.
The subject falls under the ministry of consumer affairs but the law suggests the government should decide when to make it mandatory and that clarity has emerged.
Currently hallmarking is catching up in big cities but all jewellers can also sell non-hallmarked jewellery.
However, many small jewellers in towns and rural areas keep hallmarked jewellery along with non-hallmarked jewellery.
They also use the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) logo on the sign board to attract customers even if they don’t have BIS registration.
The BIS has come down heavily on them and on Friday issued a notice saying, “The BIS Act 2016 and BIS Regulations 2018 have enabled the central government to BIS hallmarking mandatory.”
The BIS said keeping stocks of hallmarked gold jewellery or advertisements of the shops could be through valid licensed/certified jewellers and it could seize spuriously hallmarked gold jewellery from jewellers who do not have valid certificates of registration.
By this warning the BIS has indicated that using its logo and keeping hallmarked jewellery by unregistered jewellers is seen as an offence.
The BIS notice said non-licensed jewellers would stop misusing the BIS hallmark logo on the jeweller/tag, display board or on packing materials.
This warning comes before it is made mandatory. Sudheesh Nambiath, head of the India Gold Policy Centre, set up by IIM Ahmedabad, said, “This is a smart way to protect consumers.”
By any chance if mandatory hallmarking is delayed, BIS warning will create awareness.
The bill or invoice of sale of hallmarked precious metal articles shall indicate separately the description of each article, the net weight of precious metal, purity in carat and fineness, and hallmarking charges.
Harshad Ajmera, president, Indian Association of Hallmarking Centres, said, “Hallmarking centres are prepared to handle whatever additional work comes to them whenever the government decides to make hallmarking mandatory.” In the country, at present, there are 750 hallmarking and assaying centres and 100 are in the pipeline.
In 2017-18, 41.5 million pieces of jewellery — 500 tonnes — were hallmarked.
Ajmera said 10-20 per cent of the centres’ capacity is used, making business unviable for them.
Small jewellers see mandatory hallmarking coming at a time of stiff competition. Surendra Mehta, national secretary, Indian Bullion and Jewellers Association, said: “We hope the government will give at least six months before making hallmarking mandatory.”