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' Hallmarked gold jewellery varies in purity'.

THEWorld Gold Council WGC) disclosed on Thursday that even gold jewellery that has Hallmark certification in India varies in purity and said that urgent steps are required to improve quality standards in the country.

" Improvements in the hallmarking system in India are not only essential to a successful gold monetisation scheme but also help to boost the country's gold jewellery exports from existing $ 8 billion to $ 40 billion in the next five years,"the WGC said.

Hallmarking of gold is a purity certification of the precious metal. The hallmark specifies whether the gold corresponds to 23 carat or 22 carat for example. India consumes 800- 1,000 tonnes of gold annually, of which almost the entire quantity is imported.

The Bureau of Indian Standards ( BIS), under the consumer affairs ministry, is the administrative authority of hallmarking.

Even though 30 per cent of jewellery is now hallmarked, there are concerns about the quality and credibility of some hallmarking centres." This means the percentage of jewellery hallmarked accurately is expected to be even lower than 30 per cent,"the WGC said in a report. Even hallmarked items vary widely in purity because of weak quality control and lack of resources on the part of BIS to enforce its policies, it said. Though undercaratage in gold has reduced to 10- 15 per cent from 40 per cent since the introduction of BIS hallmarking in 2000, but challenges still remain, it added.

WGC India managing director Somasundaram PR said," Hallmarking is not mandatory and consumer awareness is limited. So, jewellers are neither obliged or incentivised to become certified. Moreover, hallmarked and non- hallmarked items are sold in the same outlet."He said that operationally, many hallmarking centres suffer from lower profitability, poor equipment and slack processes. Hallmarking centres need to operate at a minimum of 50 per cent capacity just to break even at the BIS stipulated price of ` 25 per piece. Many cannot achieve this target and so they resort to price cutting and malpractice." BIS also lacks adequate staff and dedicated laboratories,"the report adds.

' Urgent steps required to better quality standards in the country'

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jul 31, 2015
Words:369
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