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The government has eased mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery by exempting traders whose annual turnover is below Rs 40 lakh. It also decided to implement the rules in three phases, implying ‘one nation, one standard’ policy will be delayed.

Mandatory hallmarking means that jewelers will be able to sell hallmark certified 14 or 18 or 22 carats of gold jewellery to protect the public against lower caratage. However, the government has also accepted the jewellery industry’s demand to include gold ornaments of 20, 23 and 24 carats, for which necessary notifications will be issued.

Announcing that hallmarking would be mandatory in 256 districts, where assaying centres are already set up, in the first phase from Wednesday, director general of Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) Pramod Kumar Tiwari said that in the second phase 246 districts would be covered which are located within 100 kilometre distance of current implementing districts. However, he did not disclose when the next phase would be implemented.

He also did not rule out possibility of jewellers selling non-hallmarked jewellery in 256 districts by arranging some “dummy receipts”. Consumer affairs minister Piyush Goyal had met jewellery industry representatives on Tuesday evening, a day before the mandatory hallmarking was to be implemented.

Besides, the government has also waived penalty for violation of hallmarking till end of August. Export and re-import of jewellery as per trade policy of the government —for international and B2B domestic exhibitions — will be exempted from mandatory hallmarking. Watches, fountain pens and special types of artefacts such as Kundan, Polki and Jadau will also be exempted from hallmarking as jewellers had requested for it.

“Since this is a major decision, we will concentrate for next three months on handholding the stakeholders (jewellers) as they have also many apprehensions. We will try to allay their fears as it is prudent to help them feel comfortable,” Tiwari said. It has also been decided to allow jewellers to increase or decrease the hallmarked gold ornaments by up to 2 gram without going to the assaying centre again to meet customers’ requirement.

Tiwari also said that consumers will continue to sell non-hallmarked jewellery as per practice as the new rule is applicable only at the retailer level.

According to World Gold Council, India has around 4 lakh jewellers, out of which only 35,879 have been BIS certified. To encourage more registration, the government has decided not to levy any fees from this month. Currently, there are 940 assaying and hallmarking (A&H) centres operational across the country, As each of these centres can hallmark 500 articles a day in one shift, the estimated hallmarking capacity of all A&H centres will be about 14 crore articles per year.

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