Agmark, Hallmark, ISI, BIS, BEE and Other Ratings

All gold jewellery to bear hallmark


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hallmark

Mains level : Not Much

The Centre will go ahead with its plan to mandate hallmarking of gold jewellery from June 1. The plan had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: Gold hallmarking is a purity certification and is voluntary at present.

What is Hallmark Gold?

  • The process of certifying the purity and fineness of gold is called hallmarking.
  • Bureau of Indian Standards, the National Standards Body of India, is responsible for hallmarking gold as well as silver jewellery under the BIS Act.
  • If you see the BIS hallmark on the gold jewellery/gold coin, it means it conforms to a set of standards laid by the BIS. Hallmarking gives consumers assurance regarding the purity of the gold they bought.
  • That is, if you are buying hallmarked 18K gold jewellery, it will actually mean that 18/24 parts are gold and the rest is alloy.

Here are the four components one must look at the time of buying gold (they are mentioned in the laser engraving of a hallmark seal):

  1. BIS Hallmark: Indicates that its purity is verified in one of its licensed laboratories
  2. Purity in carat and fineness (corresponding to given caratage KT)
    •     22K916 (91.6% Purity)
    •     18K750 (75% Purity)
    •     14K585 (58.5% Purity)
  3. Assaying & Hallmarking Centre’s mark
  4. Jeweler’s unique identification mark

Try this PYQ from CSP 2017:

Q. Consider the following statements:
1. The Standard Mark of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is mandatory for automotive tyres and tubes.
2. AGMARK is a quality Certification Mark issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Why such a move now?

  • As per the new rules, if jewellery or an artefact made of 14-, 18- or 22-carat gold is sold without the BIS hallmark, the jeweller could be penalized five times the cost of the object or imprisoned for up to one year.
  • About 40% of gold jewellery is sold with a hallmark.
  • Mandatory hallmarking would protect the public against lower caratage and ensure consumers did not get cheated while buying gold ornaments and got the purity as marked on the ornaments.
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