All that glitters is not gold
Your wedding jewellery may not be as pure or as precious as you think it is.
Several goldsmiths across India have taken to adulterating the precious metal with iridium
and ruthenium, and are getting away with it, as until recently the metals failed to show up on all purity checks.
It's an alchemist's dream, and the practice is becoming increasingly
commonplace if you go by the stocks of the `duplicate' metals at even the smallest of karigar workshops.
Both iridium and ruthenium belong to the platinum family of metals, and when mixed with gold, do not form an alloy but sit tight in the yellow metal.
Governmen makes hallmarking gold jewellery mandatory
To protect consumers from unscrupulous jewellers, the government on January 4, 2011 approved a proposal making hallmarking of gold.
The hallmarking of gold, which is voluntary in nature at present, is a purity certification of the precious metal. The Bureau of Indian Standards
(BIS), under the Consumer Affairs Ministry, is the administrative authority of hallmarking.
The Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cleared the proposal by approving amendments to the Bureau of Indian Standards
(BIS) Act, 1986, that aims to expand the ambit of mandatory hallmarking to include more products, including gold, sources said.
The BIS (Amendment) Bill, will empower the government to bring in
compulsory certification regime any article and/or process that it considers necessary from the point of view of health, safety,
environment and prevention of deceptive practice, they said. At present, about 77 items, including cement, mineral water and milk
products, are certified through mandatory hallmarking under the BIS Act for conformity with expected quality levels.
The BIS hallmark, a mark of conformity widely accepted by the consumer,
bestows the additional confidence to the consumer on the quality of products like gold jewellery.
Besides mandatory hallmarking, the amendments moved by the Consumer
Affairs Ministry also seek to introduce registration of relevant standards as an alternative mechanism to the compulsory certification
regime to facilitate growth of sunrise sectors like IT and biotechnology and protect consumers from spurious and substandard imports.
It also aims to strengthen the penal provision for better and effective compliance with the provision of BIS Act.
BIS: Hallmarking of gold jewellery
BIS Hallmarking raised questions by traders
"The BIS at present has around 160 hallmarking centres in a country
that's home to three and a half lakh jewellers," said Bachhraj Bamalwa, a Kolkata-based retailer and chairman of All India Gems & Jewellery
Federation (GJF), comprising 1.25-1.5 lakh trade members. "How can BIS implement the proposed law unless it sets up hallmarking
centres across small cities and at district and taluka levels where a
majority of gold merchants are located. The distance of each hallmark centre from every location must be specified."
Self-certification involves a jeweller certifying his own
jewellery, with the government periodically collecting samples to authenticate the
accuracy of the certification. India on average imports 800 tonne of
gold every year. In the September quarter, World Gold Council pegged gold imports at 200 tonne.
Out of 203 tonne consumed locally, around 60% was in the form of
jewellery and the rest gold bars and coins. While most jewellers present
in metros and big cities sell only hallmarked jewellery, which assures a
consumer of its purity or gold content, many in the outlying areas do not hallmark jewellery.