The government has eased mandatory hallmarking of gold jewelry by exempting traders whose annual turnover is below Rs 40 lakh. It also decided to implement the rules in three phases, implying ‘one nation, one standard’ policy will be delayed.
Mandatory hallmarking means that jewelers will be able to sell hallmark-certified 14 or 18 or 22 carats of gold jewelry to protect the public against lower caratage. However, the government has also accepted the jewelry industry’s demand to include gold ornaments of 20, 23, and 24 carats, for which necessary notifications will be issued.
Announcing that hallmarking would be mandatory in 256 districts, where assaying centers are already set up, in the first phase from Wednesday, director general of Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) Pramod Kumar Tiwari said that in the second phase, 246 districts would be covered which are located within a 100-kilometer distance of current implementing districts. However, he did not disclose when the next step would be implemented.
He also did not rule out the possibility of jewelers selling non-hallmarked jewelry in 256 districts by arranging some “dummy receipts”. On Tuesday evening, consumer affairs minister Piyush Goyal met jewelry industry representatives a day before the mandatory hallmarking was implemented.
Besides, the government has also waived the penalty for violation of hallmarking till the end of August. As per the government’s trade policy, export and re-import of jewelry —for international and B2B domestic exhibitions — will be exempted from mandatory hallmarking. Watches, fountain pens, and particular types of artifacts such as Kundan, Polki, and Jadau will also be exempted from hallmarking as jewelers had requested for it.
“Since this is a major decision, we will concentrate for the next three months on handholding the stakeholders (jewelers) as they also have many apprehensions. We will try to allay their fears as it is prudent to help them feel comfortable,” Tiwari said. It has also been decided to allow jewelers to increase or decrease the hallmarked gold ornaments by up to 2 grams without going to the assaying center again to meet customers’ requirements.
Tiwari also said that consumers will continue to sell non-hallmarked jewelry as per practice as the new rule is applicable only at the retailer level.
According to the World Gold Council, India has around 4 lakh jewelers; only 35,879 certified BIS. To encourage more registration, the government has decided not to levy any fees from this month. Currently, there are 940 assaying and hallmarking (A&H) centers operational across the country; as each of these centers can hallmark 500 articles a day in one shift, the estimated hallmarking capacity of all A&H centers will be about 14 crore articles per year.