In view of the problems related to the pandemic, the Central government has announced accepting the request of the gem and jewellery industry stakeholders to postpone the 1 June deadline to hallmark gold jewellery in the country. 15 June has been set as the new date to implement the process.

Late last night, the consumer affairs ministry also announced forming a committee to “resolve implementation issues and ensure the roll-out by 15 June.”

The Bureau of Indian Standards director-general Pramod Tewari has been appointed as the convener of the committee that includes department of consumer affairs additional secretary Nidhi Khare, representatives of jewellers associations, trade and hallmarking bodies.

As reported in The Statesman on 18 May, industry associations such as the Mumbai-based All India Gem & Jewellery Domestic Council had deemed the 1 June 2021 deadline as “impossible” and had sought an extension.

A hallmark is an official marking on jewellery to certify the content of gold, platinum, silver, palladium, to avoid customers being cheated. In its 15 January 2021 order, the consumer affairs ministry had mandated all gold jewellery items and artefacts to be hallmarked by 1 June 2021. Only about 30 per cent of gold jewellery in India is hallmarked, according to government data.

The World Gold Council estimates that only 35,879 out of India’s 4 lakh jewellers have certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards ~ this despite BIS setting up an online registration process that, according to an Indian Association of Hallmarking Centre official, “can be done in five minutes sitting at home.”

While Gem and Jewellery Council chairman Ashish Pethe thanked minister Goyal for extending the deadline, he reiterated persisting industry problems of inadequate infrastructure, particularly in small towns, to hallmark jewellery within a short time.

His association represents about three lakh industry stakeholders. Gem and Jewellery Council vice-chairman Saiyam Mehra pointed to Covid-19 related travel restrictions that have worsened hallmarking logistics.

While recognising problems, the government is pushing ahead to ensure transparency. “Customers must get hallmark-certified gold at the earliest all across the country without any further delay, to ensure India having the world’s best standards in gold jewellery,” said consumer affairs minister Piyush Goyal during an industry webinar on Monday to review the hallmarking process.