New Delhi: Jewellers can sell only hallmarked jewellery and artefacts made of 14, 18 and 22 carat gold from January 15, 2021 and violation of this will attract penalty and imprisonment of one year, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Tuesday.
Jewellers have been given one year time to register with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and implement the mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery to ensure purity of the precious metal, he told reporters.
Consumers have to watch out for four marks on hallmarked gold jewellery: BIS mark, purity in carat, assay centre's name and jewellers' identification mark.
A notification to make mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery from January 15, 2021 will be issued on January 16 by the Consumer Affairs Ministry.
Gold hallmarking is a purity certification of the precious metal and is voluntary in nature at present. The BIS is already running a hallmarking scheme for gold jewellery since April 2000 and around 40 per cent of gold jewellery is being hallmarked currently.
"This will become mandatory from January 15, 2021. We will give one year time for implementation. Jewellers will be allowed to sell only 14, 18 and 22 carat gold jewellery," Paswan said.
Instead of ten grades earlier, hallmarked gold jewellery will now be available in three grades of 14 carat, 18 carat and 22 carat, he said.
At present, there are 892 assaying and hallmarking centres in 234 district locations, and 28,849 jewellers have taken BIS registration.
"We are targeting to open hallmarking centres in all districts of the country and register all jewellers during this one year window," he said, adding that a massive awareness campaign will be launched.
The minister also said that mandatory hallmarking will protect the public against lower caratage and ensure consumers do not get cheated while buying gold ornaments and get the purity as marked on the ornaments.
A senior BIS official H S Pasriche said penal action will be taken against jewellers for violation of mandatory hallmarking norm. The penalty would be Rs 1 lakh to five times of the value of the commodity and also one year imprisonment.
The government has not received comments on the draft quality control order for mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts that was hosted on WTO website on October 10, 2019.
As per global trade rules of WTO, a member country has to notify a quality control order with the Geneva-based multilateral body and the process takes about two months time. Exporting nations have to comply with the BIS quality norms specified for gold in the quality control order. India is a part of the 164-member WTO since 1995.
India is the largest importer of gold, which mainly caters to the demand of jewellery industry. In volume terms, the country imports 700-800 tonne of gold annually.
According to World Gold Council data, India's cumulative gold demand declined to 496.11 tonne during the first nine months of 2019 from 523.9 tonne in the year-ago period. In 2018, gold demand stood at 760.4 tonne.
Similarly, the cumulative gold import declined to 502.9 tonnes in the first nine months of 2019 from 587.3 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year. India's gold imports stood at 755.7 tonnes in 2018.