New Delhi resident Poonam Chandna used her annual bonus pay out to purchase a set of gold bangles over a decade ago and had put these away in the bank locker for her daughter Ambika’s wedding. She felt the money was best invested in gold, which keeps increasing in value over time.

They found a suitable match for Ambika last month and when preparations for the wedding began, her daughter felt the bangles looked ‘outdated’ and wanted to swap them for a more contemporary design. She took the bangles for exchange and, to her horror, realised that she had been cheated by her ‘trusted’ jeweller. What was promised to be 22 karat pure gold was just 18 karat!

Many of us, like Mrs. Chandna, get cheated into buying gold which is not of the purity promised by jewellers. This is because it is impossible to judge the quality of gold by looking at it with naked eyes. The gold needs to be melted and tested by experts to bring out its true elements. And this is what hallmarking can make possible. All you need to do is ask #MarkKidharHain?

What is hallmarking and how does it change the way you buy gold?

Hallmarking is a scheme introduced by the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) to ensure that all gold bought and sold is certified in terms of purity and fineness. Hallmarking helps bring about standardisation and quality testing of gold. Since its introduction in 2000, the body has been trying to make hallmarking mandatory in the country.

BIS figures reveal that about 24,000 of nearly 300,000 jewellers in India sell hallmarked jewellery today. In the absence of a hallmark, you have to trust the jeweller on the quality of your purchase. But, however trusted your jeweller is, you can never be assured of the quality of gold which you are purchasing. This is the problem that hallmarking solves.

Hallmarking is carried out using a specialised laser technique, which doesn’t spoil or bend the jewellery in any way.
Hallmarking is carried out using a specialised laser technique, which doesn’t spoil or bend the jewellery in any way. (istock)

At present, hallmarking is done for three grades of gold – 22 karat, 18 karat and 14 karat. It is carried out using a specialised laser technique, which doesn’t spoil or bend the jewellery in any way.

Four stamps of the hallmark (see box) are symbolic of the quality of the gold that you are purchasing. This whole process costs only Rs. 35 per gold article.

Here’s what to look out for the next time you buy gold jewellery:

Four stamps of the hallmark are symbolic of the quality of the gold that you are purchasing.
Four stamps of the hallmark are symbolic of the quality of the gold that you are purchasing.

BIS officials carry out surprise checks at jewellers selling hallmarked jewellery and take random pieces for retesting for purity. Similar checks are also carried out in AHCs to ensure that the processes are being followed properly. Buying hallmarked jewellery also makes it simpler to sell, recycle or upcycle the jewellery, because the stamp is indicative of the quality of the piece of gold which you are trying to give up.

So, if Mrs. Chandna had bought hallmarked gold bangles for her daughter, she would have been assured that she was getting the 22 karat gold for which she was paying. At the time of swap, the jeweller would have seen the hallmark and given her the true value in the form of cash or any other piece of jewellery of her daughter’s liking.

Know your rights as a gold buyer



If your gold is of lesser value or purity than jeweller claimed, the BIS can step in to ensure that the jeweller gives you a new piece of jewellery in exchange, or refunds your money.
If your gold is of lesser value or purity than jeweller claimed, the BIS can step in to ensure that the jeweller gives you a new piece of jewellery in exchange, or refunds your money. (istock)

When buying gold, you must be sure that the hallmark is genuine and the jeweller gives you a bill with the day’s rate of gold, weight of the item, date of purchase, making charges and GST levied. The hallmark should have all four symbols (mentioned in the box above) carved clearly.

The quality testing is not just for hallmarked pieces. If you are unsure of the quality of your purchase, which is not hallmarked, you can still take it to any BIS-recognised AHCs listed here to get it tested and certified: http://bit.ly/BISCentre

If you find that your gold is of lesser value or purity than your jeweller claimed, the BIS can step in to ensure that the jeweller gives you a new piece of jewellery in exchange, or refunds your money. The BIS will also levy a penalty on the jeweller.

You even have an option for redressal if you find that your gold has been incorrectly hallmarked. If the quality of a hallmarked piece of jewellery is found to be of a lower standard than what is declared in the stamp, BIS can impose a penalty that equals double of the difference in standard observed upon testing, multiplied by the weight of gold used in the jewellery, into the prevailing gold rate.

You even have an option for redressal if you find that your gold has been incorrectly hallmarked.
You even have an option for redressal if you find that your gold has been incorrectly hallmarked. (istock)


If the same AHC is found to default a second time in a span of six months, the penalty amount is five times the difference in standard observed upon testing, multiplied by the weight of gold used in the jewellery, into the prevailing gold rate, which goes to ten times for a third instance of default detected within 12 months. You can file a complaint with the BIS by clicking here: http://bit.ly/BISComplaint

So, the next time you purchase jewellery, look out for the hallmark. Ask your jeweller #MarkKidharHain, because that is how you can save yourself from running into a loss! For more information, visit www.mygoldguide.in.

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