The BIS hallmark is a hallmarking system for gold as well as silver jewellery sold in India certifying to the purity of the metal. It certifies that the piece of jewellery conforms to a set of standards laid by the Bureau of Indian Standards, the national standards organization of India. India is the second biggest market for gold and its jewllery.
India imports in excess of 1000 tons annually (including unofficially smuggled gold) with negligible local production.The annual gold imports are around 50 billion US$ next only to crude oil imports widening the trade deficit.
The BIS system of hallmarking of gold jewellery began on April 2000. The standard specifications governing this system are IS 1417 (Grades of Gold and Gold Alloys, Jewellery/Artefacts), IS 1418 (Assaying of Gold in Gold Bullion, Gold alloys and Gold Jewellery/Artefacts), IS 2790 (Guidelines for Manufacture of 23,22,21,20,19,18,17,16,14 and 9 carat Gold Alloys), IS 3095 (Gold solders for use in manufacture of jewellery).
The BIS hallmark
BIS hallmark for gold jewellery consists of several components:
- The BIS logo.
- A three digit no. (out of a set of six pre-defined values) indicating the purity of the gold in part-per-thousand-format viz; 958, 916, 875, 833,792,750,708,667, 585, 375. Thus a BIS 916 hallmark would certify to a purity of 916 per 1000, that is 91.6%, translating to a 22 carat purity of gold.
- Logo of the assaying centre.
- A code denoting the date of hallmarking.
- Logo/code of the jeweller.
BIS introduced hallmarking for silver jewellery on December 2005 under IS 2112, the standard specification for ‘Hallmarking of Silver Jewellery/Artefacts’.
Assaying & Hallmarking Centres
The testing of the jewellery as well as the marking is done in approved Assaying & Hallmarking Centres across the nation. These are private undertakings approved as well as monitored by the BIS.
The mandatory status of hallmarking gold jewellery sold in India, although declared, is yet to be implemented. But it has a wide acceptance among consumers. This often leads to fake hallmarking of jewellery which is under the regular scrutiny of the bureau.