The tendency to add impurities in gold jewellery to fatten profit margins is perhaps as old as the trade of goldsmiths itself. To protect customers from rampant pilferage, the government has eventually launched mandatory hallmarking from June 16 much to the objection from jewellers bodies in the countries who have pointed out a number of infrastructural constraints, the primary of which is only 256 out of 718, or 35% districts in the country have assaying centres.
During a meeting of the stakeholders chaired by the Union consumer affairs minister Piyush Goyal, it was decided that jewellers with turnover up to Rs 40 lakh will be exempted from hallmarking. This would lead to a situation where there would be two sets of jewellery being purchased in the market – one, from the bigger jewellers who would buy only hallmarked products before they sell to the end customer, and two, that made by smaller neighbourhood goldsmiths who would sell products without the quality assurance seal. There are about 3 lakh gold jewellers in the country and only about 36,000 are registered with BIS.
This situation calls for increased vigilance on the part of the customer. The metal is now on the threshold of Rs 50,000 per 10 grams and most consumers would be investing a substantial part of their savings to buy a small quantity of gold jewellery. Both hallmarked and non-hallmarked gold would be legally sold and an unsuspecting customer might spend a fortune on something that might get him a compromised value in the market.
Since gold jewellery is valued both for ornamental/emotional purposes and also as an investment tool, the customer has reasons to be extra cautious. Only 30% of gold jewellery is hallmarked right now. The government has urged all jewellers to register with the Bureau of Indian Standards – the architect of the hallmark – free of cost. It should try to increase assaying infrastructure as fast as possible in the interest of the consumer.
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