Kerala, the southern state of India, has achieved a remarkable milestone by inaugurating a hallmarking centre in Idukki. This achievement has solidified Kerala’s position as the first state in India to establish hallmarking centres in all of its 14 districts. The inauguration of these hallmarking centres is a significant step in ensuring the quality and reliability of gold ornaments for consumers.
Kerala’s Gold Business – A Rising Powerhouse
As of 2022, Kerala’s gold business is valued at more than ₹1 lakh crore, with annual sales amounting to around 250 tonnes. The state is home to approximately 12,000 gold merchants, the majority of whom are registered with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
Expanding Scope of BIS Hallmarking to Gold Pieces Below 2 Grams
Notably, BIS hallmarking, initially applicable only to gold pieces weighing over 2 grams, has been embraced by gold merchants, who have been providing hallmarking and unique identification numbers even for pieces with weights below the stipulated threshold.
Challenges in Single-Piece Hallmarking
While the expansion of hallmarking centres across Kerala is a remarkable feat, it is not without its challenges. One significant challenge involves the hallmarking of single pieces of gold jewelry.
Presently, hallmarking is conducted on a collection of pieces submitted to the centre for hallmarking. However, there may be instances where a customer desires a custom-made single piece, such as a gold ring.
Challenges in Operationalizing Ornament Tracking through Unique ID Numbers
Moreover, the facility for tracking ornaments using the Unique ID number is not fully operational, which poses another challenge.
Ideally, once an ornament is hallmarked, the buyer should be able to track the pieces purchased by them using this tracking feature. The identification number is meant to provide essential information, including the exact gold content in the ornament, the hallmarking centre responsible, and the weight, among other details.
The Importance of Hallmarking
The Bureau of Indian Standards mandated the practice of hallmarking with the primary goal of protecting consumers, especially those who might not be well-versed with the intricacies of the gold market, from potential exploitation by unscrupulous jewelers.
Hallmarking serves as a vital tool in ensuring the accurate determination and official recording of the proportionate content of precious metal in jewelry, artifacts, bullion, and coins.
National Progress in Hallmarking
Mandatory hallmarking of gold jewelry and artifacts was successfully implemented under the Hallmarking of Gold Jewelry and Gold Artifacts Order, 2020, in 256 districts across India, starting from June 23, 2021.
Since then, the number of districts where hallmarking is enforced has risen to 350. Additionally, the number of hallmarking centres has surged from 945 to 1500, and the licenses availed by jewelry outlets have seen a substantial increase, rising to 2 lakh from 34,647 at the outset of the initiative.