Hall­mark­ing of Gold

Why you must look for it

Consumer Voice - - Front Page -

Gold is a pre­cious metal held dear across the world. It is a won­der­ful or­na­ment to wear as well as a hedge against in­fla­tion and fall­ing mar­kets. Gold can also be liq­ui­dated eas­ily. How­ever, it is rel­a­tively easy for the cus­tomer to be a vic­tim of ir­reg­u­lar metal qual­ity. A buyer, for in­stance, will be told that he has bought gold of 22 carats. When he goes to sell or ex­change it, he dis­cov­ers that the gold is ac­tu­ally only of 18 carats. This is why it is im­por­tant to grasp the rel­e­vance of hall­mark­ing. A hall­mark in­di­cates that the gold in the jew­ellery ad­heres to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of pu­rity. The per­cent­age of pu­rity is all that mat­ters since the price that you pay hinges on it.

Among un­scrupu­lous man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers, there has been a ten­dency to de­ceive the common con­sumer by sup­ply­ing gold of lower cartage than de­clared. The con­ve­nience of gold al­loy­ing with less pre­cious met­als – sil­ver or base met­als like cop­per and nickel – has made the process eas­ier for jew­ellers and the cu­mu­la­tive value of such forgery is es­ti­mated to run into thou­sands of crores of ru­pees in In­dia. It is easy to per­pe­trate be­cause with gold a con­sid­er­able amount of al­loy can be in­tro­duced with­out chang­ing the colour. Un­less al­loyed with a com­par­a­tively small pro­por­tion of some other metal, pure gold is too soft to with­stand wear as an ar­ti­cle for use or adorn­ment.

This la­cuna has de­manded that some sys­tem of con­trol be in place if frauds on the pub­lic are to be pre­vented. In Eng­land the for­mal as­say­ing of gold started in 1478, when it was made com­pul­sory for jew­ellers to get their gold wares as­sayed. The mea­sures adopted then for as­say­ing the jew­ellery and gold ar­ti­cles and mark­ing the pu­rity over them gave rise to hall­mark­ing.

BIS Hall­mark­ing Scheme

In In­dia, Bureau of In­dian Stan­dards (BIS) is the ac­cred­i­ta­tion agency that cer­ti­fies and hall­marks gold jew­ellery and other pre­cious met­als. The hall­mark­ing scheme is vol­un­tary in na­ture and serves to:

jew­ellery with lesser pu­rity than de­clared;

de­clared pu­rity;

world.

Stan­dard­iza­tion on gold ba­si­cally starts with grad­ing of gold de­pend­ing upon its pu­rity. So, the value of gold can be fixed ac­cord­ing to its grade. The stan­dards lay down the fine­ness in terms of num­bers by weight of gold in thou­sand parts by weight of the al­loy.

Pu­rity is also ex­pressed in terms of carats. For in­stance, 24 carat, or 24k, in­di­cates the purest form of gold – that is, the gold con­tent is 100 per cent. How­ever, pure gold is too soft to use it as jew­ellery. So it is al­loyed with a mix­ture of met­als like sil­ver, cop­per, nickel and zinc to give it strength and dura­bil­ity. In per­cent­age terms, 18k would mean 75 per cent pu­rity (de­noted by 750) and 22k would mean 91.6 per cent (de­noted by 916) pu­rity.

As per the scheme, the BIS li­cense is granted to a jew­ellery/jew­ellery man­u­fac­turer (as per IS 1417) and recog­ni­tion is granted to an as­say­ing and hall­mark­ing cen­tre on the ba­sis of com­pli­ance with IS 15820:2009 and IS 1418: 2009. Li­censed jew­ellers can get their jew­ellery/arte­facts hall­marked from any BIS-rec­og­nized as­say­ing and hall­mark­ing cen­tre on pay­ment of Rs 25 per ar­ti­cle. The hall­mark­ing cen­tre tests the ar­ti­cle for the de­clared fine­ness (pu­rity) by the jew­eller. No neg­a­tive tol­er­ance is per­mit­ted on fine­ness. As per the stan­dard, gold al­loys in­clud­ing sol­ders for man­u­fac­tur­ing jew­ellery/arte­facts have to be free from cad­mium, irid­ium and ruthe­nium. If the fine­ness is found as per dec­la­ra­tion, the jew­ellery is hall­marked with the help of a laser ma­chine.

What Makes the Hall­mark?

Be­fore pur­chas­ing gold or­na­ments, one must check the fol­low­ing com­po­nents of hall­mark through a mag­ni­fy­ing glass (mag­ni­fi­ca­tion 10X) avail­able with the jew­eller: a) BIS logo b) Pu­rity grade/Fine­ness c) As­say cen­tre’s mark d) Jew­eller’s mark e) Year of mark­ing de­noted by a let­ter sym­bol (‘A’ de­notes the year 2000, ‘B’ 2001, ‘C’ 2002, and so on)

Since launch of the scheme, over 10,000 gold jew­ellers have taken li­cense from BIS and so far about 500 lakh jew­ellery ar­ti­cles have been hall­marked. The list of BIS li­censee jew­ellers and rec­og­nized hall­mark­ing cen­tres is on the BIS web­site (www.bis. org.in). In case the pu­rity of hall­marked jew­ellery is found to be less than that de­clared by the jew­eller, a cus­tomer may file a com­plaint in any BIS of­fice in In­dia.

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