The hallmarking of gold jewellery will become mandatory at one go across the nation from January 15, 2020, and will not be implemented in phases, as was expected earlier. However, the Centre has given a year's time to comply with the new norm, which means that while the notification will be issued by January 15 next year, jewellers will be given time until January 2021, after which they will only be allowed to sell hallmarked ornaments.
Addressing the media after the announcement, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said today, “Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery & Artefacts is being made mandatory in India for which a notification will be issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs and a period of one year will be given for implementation to ensure that new assaying and hallmarking centres are set up by private entrepreneurs at locations where the demand for gold jewellery and artefacts arises, the registration process of jewellers is completed and retailers are able to clear existing stocks that aren't hallmarked." The Minister said that hallmarking will benefit the poor in villages and small towns, who are not able to ascertain the purity of the gold they are buying.
Asserting that the move is designed to strengthen consumer confidence, create a level-playing field for jewellers and make trade more organised, Ahammed MP, Chairman, Malabar Gold & Diamonds, said, "Now, the need of the hour is to create awareness among the consumers across the country so that they demand hallmarked gold jewellery. The government should ensure that the hallmarking centres follow best practices while assaying the jewellery to ensure uniformity."
The industry is happy because it has a year's time to prepare, though the nationwide implementation was a big surprise. The industry has been saying that there are 350,000 jewellers in the country. According to government announcement today, as on October 31 this year, there were 877 assaying and hallmarking centres spread across 234 districts in the country and so far 26,019 jewellers have taken BIS registration.
According to Somasundaram PR, Managing Director, India, World Gold Council, “This will bring trust back to the gold industry, change its image and lead to more jobs in assaying and purity verification, which in turn will support the gold monetisation scheme.”
Ahammed also said that the government should introduce a digital tracking mechanism to check the movement of the hallmarked jewellery, in order to extinguish unauthorised transactions. Moreover, barcodes on hallmarked gold jewellery should also be made compulsory to avoid infiltration of jewellery with fake hallmarking certification into the supply chain.
The BIS (Bureau of Indian standards) Act 2016 has provisions under Sections 14 and 16 for making hallmarking of mandatory by the Central Government. This will make it compulsory for all jewellers selling gold ornaments and artefacts to register with BIS and sell only hallmarked products. The draft Quality Control Order for mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts was issued on October 10, 2019, and offered for comments from stakeholders for a period of 60 days.