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India mandates hallmarking.
India mandates hallmarking.

India mandates hallmarking – what about Australia?

India’s government last Wednesday agreed to make hallmarking of gold jewellery mandatory to help ensure quality levels and boost investment in jewellery
By approving amendments to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act, 1986, the Cabinet endorsed compulsory hallmarking of gold jewellery products. At present, gold hallmarking is voluntary.

Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia president Bronwyn Pratt was full of praise for India’s stance.

“We applaud India for its decision to hallmark all gold jewellery but at the same time we are disappointed in our government [for] not enforcing the Australian standard for hallmarking,” she said, adding that mandatory hallmarking in any country helps make the industry more accountable.

In India, as in other countries, mandatory hallmarking is hoped to instil confidence in consumers. And with gold prices at record highs, that level of certainty has never been more important to those looking to purchase jewellery, especially gold jewellery.

While India’s decision on hallmarking delivers a level of conformity said to be widely accepted by consumers, the jewellery can only be certified for purity at government centres. 

It’s hardly surprising India has undertaken a mandatory hallmarking initiative. According to a BIS survey, of 162 samples drawn from 16 cities, more than 90 per cent were found to be not of the declared purity, meaning that consumers were losing between 20 and 30 per cent of gold value in their jewellery purchases.

Around 65 per cent of India’s demand for gold is said to be for jewellery. India is the world’s largest consumer of gold.

Left to right: PR representative Julianne Richards, and Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia president Bronwyn Pratt
Left to right: PR representative Julianne Richards, and Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia president Bronwyn Pratt
Australian jewellers unaware
According to Pratt, many people in the Australian jewellery industry were unaware of Australia’s hallmarking stance.

“The Guild tries to educate people in the industry at trade shows, but we’re amazed by the number of jewellers who come to our booth who aren’t aware that Australian standards exist for hallmarking,” she said.

Pratt explained that the Guild invested heavily in the AGJIC budget of $66,000 to get the standards created and approved - AS2140-2008. “But we’re disappointed by the lack of Government support for enforcing it.” 

“In other industries, not adhering to a standard would result in penalties but none exist for hallmarking. There’s not even a slap on the wrist,” she said.

Pratt advised that the five-piece hallmarking punch kits costs less than $400 but was designed to last for many years. She encouraged jewellers to purchase them.  

“Proper hallmarking distinguishes Australian jewellery from imported pieces. Customers can easily see the purity of pieces with the correct stamps. 

“I see a lot of jewellery coming into my gallery/workshop with no markings at all on it. How can consumers be certain of what they are buying without correct markings?

Hallmarking enforced
“Other countries, like England, can enforce hallmarking, it is time Australia got smarter!” 

In India, the implementation of the law could be problematic because hallmarking centres exist only in bigger cities whereas the rural population reportedly purchases much of the country’s jewellery. 

The hallmarking decision had been delayed by around three years as previously the Indian Government didn’t have sufficient numbers of hallmarking centres to certify jewellery.

The Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia has more information about the Australian standard and hallmarking on its website.

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