Solitaire International spoke to several top industry veterans about the mandatory hallmarking that was implemented from 16th June. Here’s what they had to say …
After more than two decades since it was first mooted, the mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery has been finally enforced from 16th June, 2021.
Initially, the scheme will start only in the 256 districts having assaying and hallmarking (A&H) centres so as to ease the burden of compliance on retailers. Jewellery exporters too have been exempted from mandatory hallmarking, as have jewellers with annual turnover upto Rs. 40 lakh.
The export and re-import of jewellery as per the Trade Policy of Government of India, jewellery for international exhibitions, and jewellery for government-approved B2B domestic exhibitions will also be exempted from mandatory hallmarking.
The Government has included all the recommendations and amendments put forth by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), which held a series of discussions with policymakers over the past few months.
1) Various export activities as per following that are permitted under Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) will be exempted from Hallmarking.
a. Export and reimport relating to Export Promotion Tours and Participation in Overseas Exhibitions as allowed under Para 4.46 FTP r/w Para 4.80 of Handbook of Procedures.
b. Re-import of rejected Jewellery under Para 4.52 FTP r/w Para 4.91 of HBoP.
c. Consignment exports and reimport under Para 4.53 FTP r/w Para 4.93 of HBoP.
2) B2B local exhibitions approved by the government, which are organised within India for promoting and facilitating trade.
3) Exquisite handcrafted jewellery of Kundan, Minakari, Polki and Jadau, Thewa jewellery should also be excluded.
Colin Shah, Chairman, GJEPC, said, “I express my heartfelt thanks to Piyush Goyal, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, for accepting the recommendations put forth by GJEPC in the mandatory hallmarking scheme. This is a welcome step towards ease of doing business.”
Shah further added, “The Government has been very considerate in keeping small business units, with turnover under Rs.40 lakh, out of mandatory hallmarking. The Government has been very proactive, and at the same time, it has considered the concerns of the domestic as well as export sectors.”
The hallmark will be done at the first point of sale, which may be the manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor or retailer. Alteration in the hallmarked jewellery up to 2 grams of increase or decrease is permitted with responsibility of purity on the jeweller.
Paying heed to the high demand from jewellers to increase the grades of gold purity for hallmarking, gold of additional carats i.e. 20k, 23k and 24k will be allowed for hallmarking.
Jewellers can continue to buy back old unhallmarked gold jewellery from consumers and in order to give adequate time to manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of gold jewellery, there would be no penalties till August end.
Regarding the Workflow Automation of A&H Centres, every job from receipt of jewellery to hallmarking will be computerised and a complete trail of each job with date and time will be maintained. He said anonymity of the sample will also be maintained after assigning Job Number until the stage of hallmarking. He said from now onwards Hallmark will include six-digit code along with BIS Mark & Purity and delivery Voucher to be issued to Jeweller for utmost transparency.
Solitaire International spoke to various industry stakeholders for their reactions to the enforcement of mandatory hallmarking:
K. Srinivasan, Convener, Jewellery Panel Committee, GJEPC, and Managing Director of Emerald Jewel Industry India
My personal thanks on behalf of the entire gold jewellery industry of India to all Expert Committee Members, which comprised leaders of all jewellery associations in India, who have worked tirelessly through the past weeks with the Honourable Shri. Piyush Goyal, officers of the Consumer Affairs Ministry and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to bring an acceptable solution for all on Mandatory Hallmarking implementation. Like excise regulations, the Indian jewellery industry once again proves that it can work closely with the Government to bring progressive solutions for the entire nation. We are one of the largest generators of employment and GDP for the nation and will always be aware about our responsibility to support the nation during its time of need.
Somasundaram PR, Managing Director, India, World Gold Council
Mandatory hallmarking is all about building trust and transparency in the Indian gold jewellery industry, benefiting consumers and trade alike. It is not just about domestic customers, commitment to hallmarking underpins our global image enabling greater trust in the famed Indian jewellery manufacturing skills. Our ambition to become the jeweller to the world cannot be achieved by having a dichotomous approach, one for export markets observing their stringent hallmarking standards and the other one for the domestic market, with flexibility not to hallmark. Gold in jewellery or any other form, is a serious saving instrument for Indian households and at prices breaching lifetime high of Rs. 50,000/10g, it is necessary to build enormous trust using modern technology to sustain gold’s legacy. Mandatory hallmarking will lead to better employment opportunities for technically qualified people in assaying. The gold industry in India is at the cusp of transformation, as transparency, standards and infrastructure begin to define the next phase of reforms. It is a step in the right direction.
TS Kalyanaraman, Chairman & Managing Director, Kalyan Jewellers
We, at Kalyan Jewellers, have always championed the need for BIS hallmarking in jewellery. In fact, we were one of the pioneering brands that voluntarily sold 100% BIS hallmarked gold jewellery across all our showrooms. We welcome the Government’s decision to implement mandatory BIS hallmarking for jewellers across the country. It is one of the landmark decisions that will change the way the industry has been functioning in India for a very long time. Mandatory hallmarking will standardise the purity of gold jewellery and take the industry a long way towards being more structured as well as further push the ongoing shift of business and customers from the unorganised to the organised jewellery segment. More importantly, the new regulatory framework will ensure that customers get a fair value for their new jewellery purchases as well as their exchanged or collateralised old gold.
Dr. Saurabh Gadgil, Chairman and Managing Director, PNG Jewellers
When GST was introduced, there were similar hiccups, but with necessary dialogue, issues were resolved to make it convenient for companies as well as the Government in the interest of consumers. We strongly believe that consumer rights should be upheld while ensuring that companies, whether organised or unorganised, get the necessary time and support to achieve 100% hallmarking in the best interest of everyone.
We are glad that by holding the necessary dialogue with the Government, our industry representatives were able to etch out a middle path in the interest of everyone.
Currently gold hallmarking is relevant only to the 256 districts in India which have at least one hallmarking centre present, which is a big relief. India is a diverse country where different levels of purities are sold. We are glad that customers can now avail hallmarked gold in 20k, 23k and 24k, beside 18k and 22k. Relief on old stock for the next two months will also benefit companies to align their operations towards fully hallmarked jewellery.
PNG Jewellers has been hallmarking all its jewellery for over a decade, so compliance for this new rule has not affected us at all. We are happy that the industry is moving towards getting more organised and more consumer friendly. Customers, too, have welcomed mandatory hallmarking due to its obvious benefits.
Dr. C. Vinod Hayagriv, Managing Director & Director, C. Krishniah Chetty Group Of Jewellers
Hallmarking per se is healthy, although C. Krishniah Chetty has been retailing only hallmarked inventory for over a decade. The Hallmarking Unique Identification (HUID) will have unnecessary overheads, delays, and make the jewellery ugly with marks, and could make doing business more cumbersome. Corruption, across all levels, is the root cause of the cash economy that the Government wants to handle or limit; but that is not being tackled; rather it will make doing business more difficult.
Aditya Pethe, Director, WHP Jewellers
As a company, we have followed 100% Hallmarking policy for years now to ensure our customers get what they pay for. It is a very good move by the Government as it guarantees the purity of gold and safeguards the consumer’s interest.
Ishu Datwani, Founder, Anmol
When BIS first made Hallmarking voluntarily available in the country, Anmol was among the first batch of eight jewellers nationally to get the licence for hallmarking. We began hallmarking in the year 2000. There were certain logistical and other issues that the industry was facing with regard to hallmarking, but most of these grievances have been addressed by the Government.
Siddarth Rupchand Sawansukha, Managing Director, Sawansukha Jewellers
Hallmarking has been a part of our industry for a very long time. As an industry, we are transitioning from an unorganised to an organised sector, so this will be one step forward towards that.
The implementation of the mandatory hallmarking will definitely add one more layer of transparency to our businesses and it will be beneficial for both the consumers and us. As an industry, this will be one step forward to a fairer trade. The customer will have a greater faith and trust due to the mandatory hallmarking. We all should swiftly incorporate the hallmarking into our businesses and assist the government in executing the law smoothly and effortlessly.
However, it is now of utmost importance that the Government creates the required infrastructure by constructing new Hallmarking centres in order to cater to the large numbers of jewellers in the country. This will ensure a smooth flow of implementation of the law and will provide ease to all the jewellers.
Vikram Talwar, Director, Talwarsons Jewellers
Talwarsons Jewellers was one of the first jewellers in North India to get a hallmarking licence, and we have always been supportive of hallmarking from the very onset. We have been a 100% hallmarked store for around two decades now, and do not see any direct impact on the customer front as of now, but definitely it will strengthen customer confidence in the yellow metal.
However, I am not too sure about the ease of implementation of mandatory hallmarking. It’s definitely a tedious and time-consuming process of uploading details of each and every item in a jewellery store on the portal. We’re fighting two wars at the same time on two different fronts. One is strict and on-point implementation of mandatory hallmarking by jewellers in urban cities with adequate A&H centres. The other being inadequate infrastructure and lack of A&H centres in rural areas. I see implementation of mandatory hallmarking only with the BIS being fully supportive of jewellers. Our industry has overcome various hardships in the past years and I’m certain we will overcome this issue too.
Tanya Rastogi, Director, Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers
It is an important move to organise the industry and to reinforce the trust in buying gold in our country. That said, a lot of compliances are to be followed and the Government should facilitate it so that we as an industry, do not find it difficult to adhere to the rules. Every jeweller will suffer some losses in this process as each of them has some inventory of various caratage, which now has to be melted and recast. Due to the pandemic, the industry already has suffered losses and this move will be some additional losses for us. As it is for the larger good, we will bear this one as well, but a lot of small players who are already struggling to survive may have difficulty adapting. We are in complete support of this initiative but for it to be successful, the Government has to also facilitate more hallmarking centres.
Vaibhav Saraf, Director, Aisshpra Gems & Jewels
As a brand, we believe transparency is the first step towards empowering a customer. We have been one of the first brands to introduce hallmarking in eastern Uttar Pradesh and we are glad that the Government is making it mandatory. However, the current hallmarking infrastructure is inadequate and we hope more centres are created soon.