In India, ban on sale of gold without hallmark from 1 April: What is this tag and why does it matter?
From 1 April 2023, gold jewellery and other artefacts can be sold only if they have the six-digit HUID (Hallmark Unique Identification). This number is unique to each piece of gold. It avoids misselling, guarantees quality, and helps in tracing the item
Indians love all things shiny and bright. Gold tops the list. India is the world’s second-largest gold jewellery consumer in the world, second only to China. Now the government has introduced a new rule for the purchase of gold jewellery and artefacts. Come 1 April, gold sold in the market will have to be hallmarked with only a six-digit alphanumeric HUID, a union identification number.
Nidhi Khare, additional secretary, department of consumer affairs, said, “In consumer interest, it has been decided that after 31st March 2023, sale of gold jewellery and gold artefacts hallmarked without HUID shall not be permitted.”
Earlier, the HUID would be in four digits. As of now, both HUIDs (four- and six-digit) are used in the market. After 31 March, only six-digit alphanumeric codes will be allowed, according to Khare.
What is the HUID number of gold?
The Hallmark Unique Identification (HUID) is a unique six-digit alphanumeric code given to every piece of jewellery and artefact at the time of hallmarking.
“Hallmark is a mark on gold jewellery which is affixed by an entity recognised by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to assure its fineness and purity. So whenever you buy any gold jewellery, make sure to check the Hallmark to avoid being cheated,” the department of consumer affairs website says.
The HUID number is a six-digit alphanumeric code made up of letters and digits. Every item of jewellery will be issued a HUID number at the moment of hallmarking, and each one will be unique. The jewellery is hand stamped with this unique number at an Assaying & Hallmarking Centre, according to the website.
According to BIS, there are about 940 Assaying & Hallmarking centres in India.
Why is the HUID number important?
Hallmarking of gold was made compulsory by the Indian government in June 2021 to avoid misselling. This gives credibility and helps address complaints regarding the purity of gold.
The HUID number is unique to each piece of gold and it helps in tracing it. In HUID-based hallmarking, the registration of jewellers is done automatically with no human interference. The HUID system is secure and poses no risk to data privacy, according to the government.
Also read: Explained: What is hallmarking of gold jewellery, and why has it been made mandatory
How to check the authenticity of gold?
Each piece of gold should be hallmarked. It should carry a BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) hallmark logo, purity/fineness grade and the HUID number.
Since gold is very soft, it is mixed with other metals to design jewellery or other artefacts. The more gold an item carries, the more expensive it is.
Hallmarked gold falls under three categories. 22K916 means that it is 22-carat gold and the piece of jewellery has 91.6 per cent gold. 18K750 means that it is 18-carat gold and the piece of jewellery has 75 per cent gold. 14K585 means that it is 14-carat gold and the piece of jewellery has 58.5 per cent gold, according to the government website.
An individual can check the authenticity of hallmarked jewellery by using the “Verify HUID” feature on the BIS Care App, which is available on Google Play Store in Hindi and English. Go to the “check licence details” tab on the app and then proceed to the “verify HUID” section to verify the legitimacy of the product.
You may check the purity of gold jewellery at any BIS-recognized Assaying and Hallmarking Centre. For this, you will have to pay a fee of Rs 200, according to the government website.
Also read: How much gold can one keep at home?
Why have the rules been changed?
Until 16 June 2021, gold hallmarking was voluntary. The six-digit HUID number was introduced from 1 July 2021.
Before the implementation of the six-digit number, hallmarking consisted of four marks – the BIS logo, the purity of the article and the logo of the jeweller and Assasying and Hallmarking Centre.
Until now, old hallmarked jewellery with four marks without the HUID was permitted to be sold by jewellers along with the six-digit HUID mark. Jewellers were given a year and nine months to clear the stock of articles with four marks.
The simultaneous sale of two types of hallmarked jewellery by the jewellers was creating confusion in the mind of the common consumer, the consumer affairs ministry said in a statement. The issue was discussed with stakeholders and the ministry decided to allow only the sale of hallmarked gold jewellery with the six-digit HUID number only from April 1 onwards, it said.
India is the second largest gold jewellery consumer in the world. ReutersKhare told CNBC TV18 that the move is aimed to ensure quality standards, adding that India will have to ensure that its markets comply with basic standards and satisfy consumers as it aims to become the third largest economy in the world.
Jewellers who violate rules could face a penalty of five times the price of the jewellery or one-year imprisonment or both. However, jewellers can continue to buy back old gold jewellery without hallmark from consumers, the report says.
The ministry also clarified that the hallmarked jewellery with consumers with old schemes will remain valid.
With inputs from agencies
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