BIS increases surveillance on jewellery hallmarking centres

The Bureau of Indian Standards, southern region, has intensified its surveillance on jewellery assaying and hallmarking centres as purchase of the yellow metal is expected to surge during Akshaya Tritiya this month-end.

The number of checks may increase, particularly after a recent raid by a team of BIS officials who found that a hallmark testing unit in Chennai was hallmarking gold jewellery without proper recognition from BIS.

BIS recognises the centres who are authorised to test gold/silver jewellery for purity. This would help BIS-certified jewellers to approach such centres to get ornaments hallmarked before sales.

However, a check on M/s Pavans hallmark testing unit, Sowcarpet, recently revealed that there was a misuse of the BIS hallmark. About one kg of gold jewellery, including bangles, bracelets and coins, which were spuriously hallmarked, was sealed.

Moreover, the number of applications for establishing assaying and hallmarking centres has grown multi-fold in the past one year. On an average, BIS receives nearly 12 applications, mostly from Tamil Nadu, followed by Kerala, to set up such centres for hallmarking jewellery every year.

Sources in the BIS said the volume of applications has increased by five times so far this year. This could probably be due to the increasing awareness among consumers about hallmarked jewellery resulting in the growing demand. The standard for gold hallmarking has also been revised this year with three grades of purity —14,18 and 22 carat.

Periodical audits

There are nearly 166 assaying and hallmarking centres to ascertain the fineness of the gold and silver ornaments in the southern region, including Puducherry. About 60 centres are located across Tamil Nadu. “We conduct periodical audits based on complaints and also during the renewal of licence. We also check samples of jewellery during random checks for hallmarking once in two or three months. If the samples fail to meet the standards, action would be taken against the centres,” said an official.

Members of the jewellers associations welcomed the move as this would help maintain the hallmark standard. N. Ananthapadmanabhan, regional chairman, All India Gem and Jewellery Trade Federation, said the increase in assaying and hallmarking centres indicates that more jewellers are adapting to the hallmarking system and the standard could be made mandatory for jewellery sale.

“Now, small jewellers opt for traditional soldering to avoid charging higher amounts for wastage. The measures proposed by BIS would help ensure the availability of higher quality ornaments in the market,” he said.