Indian Hallmarking Centres Question WGC’s Data

New Delhi: Gold jewellery hallmarking centres in India have questioned the authenticity of World Gold Council (WGC)’s data on hallmarked jewellery in India, according to various media reports.

Releasing a study, “Developing Indian Hallmarking – A roadmap for future growth”, on July 30, the WGC had said, “Since the introduction of hallmarking standard in 2000 by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), India has made good progress in developing its hallmarking system. However, only 30 per cent of Indian gold jewellery is currently hallmarked.”

Harshad Ajmera, president of Indian Association of Hallmarking Centres, a body representing around 350 hallmarking centres, said, “We have successfully hallmarked 26 million pieces of jewellery items during 2014-15 for which royalty has been paid to the BIS. Considering their average weight of 16 gm gold ornaments weighing total 500 tonnes was hallmarked.”

Gold jewellery above 2 gm can be hallmarked as per existing law in India. In global markets, however, hallmarking is applicable for 1 gram of jewellery. Considering 900 tonnes of average annual gold consumption, nearly 55 per cent of jewellery was hallmarked in 2014-15. Besides, hallmarking centres also challenged WGC’s finding of widespread differences in purity and average under-caratage of anywhere between 10 and 15 per cent.

James Jose, managing director of Cochin Hallmark Co. Pvt. Ltd, urged the government to pass the hallmarking Bill currently pending in Parliament, which would make gold jewellery hallmarking mandatory. According to Jose, hallmarking centres pay 10 per cent of hallmarking charges to BIS. These centres charge US$ 0.004 per piece as hallmarking charge from customers irrespective of the size of the jewellery.

The Association estimates existence of around 15 000 organized jewellery players out of nearly 300 000 across the country. These organized players represent around 75 per cent of Indian gold jewellery industry.

Anand Kumar, secretary to Indian Association of Hallmarking Centres, said 350 hallmarking centres are enough to meet the requirement of mandatory hallmarking.