Thinking of buying gold jewellery? You’re not alone. Indian households own over 22,000 tonnes of gold. Moreover, approximately 600 tonnes of gold is used for jewellery production each year. But judging the purity of gold is no easy task. How do you differentiate between pure gold and a yellow lookalike metal? How can you ensure the sanctity of this most meaningful purchase?
What is hallmarking?
Hallmarking is the accurate determination and official recording of the proportionate content of precious metal in precious metal articles. Hallmarks are thus official marks used in many countries as a guarantee of purity or fineness of precious metal articles.
Why is hallmarking done? Hallmarking safeguards the interest of buyers by helping them identify if the gold jewellery being sold to them is real or fake.
Who does the hallmarking? In India, it is the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) authorised to assay the purity of gold. The apex body recognises certain Assaying and Hallmarking Centres against IS 15820:2009. These centres, once recognised, would be allowed to grant hallmarks to BIS-certified jewellers.
Can any jeweller acquire a hallmark on gold products? No. Only certified jewellers are eligible to receive the marking done from authorised centres. So, a hallmark helps you identify reputed jewellers and manufacturers.
What is the process of hallmarking? Gold jewellery is usually hallmarked after it is analysed or assayed for precious metal content.
Today, the modern X-ray fluorescence technique is used for finished gold articles. This assures non-destructive, quick, and automated printing by a computer.
For raw gold, the ‘fire assay’ or ‘cupellation’ method may be used. This is when the article is melted to separate the gold from the impurities. It can be destructive, but quite effective.
This assaying happens at any of the registered Assaying and Hallmarking Centres (A&HMC). These centres check the quality and assign the hallmark as per the quality standards of BIS. Once the quality has been assayed, the A&HMC gives the hallmark.
What does a hallmark look like? Every hallmark on a gold item comprises four signs:
What if the quality diminishes after hallmarking? The BIS carries out a periodic scrutiny of the gold jewellery at jewellers’ premises. If the BIS finds a discrepancy, it may result in a cancellation of the jeweller’s license, or even legal implications.
But how is purity associated with the karatage? The purity can be found out by the following karat of fineness code. The higher the karatage, the purer is the gold. The purest form of gold is 24 karat. A lower karat indicates that there are other metals present. However, hallmarked jewellery is only available in three grades, i.e. 22 karat, 18 karat and 14 karat.
|To determine the karatage of your gold article, look for the below codes. Each code represents a certain karatage.|
|22K916||Corresponding to 22 karat|
|18K750||Corresponding to 18 karat|
|14K585||Corresponding to 14 karat|
As a buyer, your protection is in your hands. Whenever you buy gold, you can ask for a magnifying glass to check all the 4 marks by the BIS to ensure proper hallmarking. With these tips, you can be assured that the gold jewellery you are buying is genuine.