Beware of fakes, warns gold hallmarking body

Beware of fakes, warns gold hallmarking body


Mumbai: Consumers in the world’s second-largest jewellery market face the risk of buying fake hallmarked gold that is flooding the market, industry body Hallmarking Federation of India (HFI) claimed in a letter to the central government.

In June 2021, the ministry of consumer affairs introduced mandatory hallmarking through a unique, six-digit alphanumeric code, or the hallmark unique identification (HUID), to guarantee the quality and quantity of gold purchases. However, jewellers in the unorganized sector sought more time to dispose of the inventory hallmarked under the old scheme, which was discretionary. “The old logo was not foolproof, unlike the HUID,” James Jose, president, HFI, said, adding that “fake hallmarked” gold is circulating in parallel with HUID gold in the Indian market.

Tralling behind

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Tralling behind

Jose said there was an urgent need for a cut-off date to be declared by the government after which gold hallmarked under the old logos cannot be sold. He said some jewellers had been requesting the government for extensions of up to three months since then and are still holding on to their old stock. “The implementation of mandatory HUID hallmark from June 2021 starting from 288 districts was a landmark event in consumer protection,” HFI wrote in the letter to the ministry, reviewed by Mint.

“However, the sale of old logo hallmarked goods is misused by the trade for pushing their sub-standard and fake hallmarked jewellery articles, creating a serious challenge for the HUID hallmarking scheme and needs to be controlled. Also, we need to take the momentum of mandatory hallmarking to the remaining 400 districts of the country,” HFI added.

The association fears that unscrupulous jewellers in collusion with a few hallmarkers are marking gold with the old logos— the Bureau of Indian Standards hallmarking centre, purity (cartage) and jewellers’ initials—and passing those off as old stock, leaving consumers at the risk of buying adulterated gold.

A trade executive, requesting anonymity, said the jewellery pieces were being hallmarked for as low as 5-10 against the 45 per piece for HUID, and being palmed off to unsuspecting consumers.

“Consumer interest is a key concern and purity of jewellery should not be compromised due to the hallmarking charges being compromised,” Surendra Mehta, national secretary, India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA), whose rates are used by the Reserve Bank of India to price sovereign gold bonds, said.

“For better consumer protection, we also suggest that the old four logo hallmarking on jewellery should be stopped and must be replaced with the new three logo hallmarking,” Mehta added.

The new process of marking has three logos: HUID, caratage and the BIS logo. On BIS Care App, a customer can type the HUID and get all details of the ornament, the maker and purity, etc, to attest to the gold being genuinely hallmarked. Industry experts said the government is looking into the issue and will announce a cut-off date in due course. India’s jewellery demand stood at 610.9 tonnes in 2021, second only to China’s 673.3 tonnes. An estimated 105 million pieces were hallmarked with HUID in the first year since implementation for a total amount of 472.5 crore.

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