According to the WGC report, despite the introduction of hallmarking
standards in India 17 years ago, there are only 15,000 licensee jewellers supported by some 500 assaying and hallmarking
centres (AHCs) which is inadequate.
The Bureau of Indian Standards ( BIS) identifies hallmarking centres and gives recognition.
" The ministry is working out to make hallmarking mandatory," said a senior ministry official.
is one of the oldest forms of consumer protection in Britain,' she said.
WGC India managing director Somasundaram PR said," Hallmarking
is not mandatory and consumer awareness is limited.
Besides mandatory hallmarking
, the amendments moved by the Consumer Affairs Ministry also seeks to introduce registration of relevant standards as an alternative mechanism to the compulsory certification regime to facilitate growth of sunrise sectors like IT and biotechnology and protect consumers from spurious and substandard imports.
"We are very encouraged by the positive response to palladium hallmarking. So far most of the items we have seen have been wedding rings, but there is some men's jewellery around and we expect to see designers experimenting widely with this "new" metal now that consumers have the additional reassurance of a hallmark." The Birmingham Assay Office, which as the largest of its kind in the world handles over 12 million articles per year, said age-old traditions have been quietly overturned in the past few months.
Every item of gold silver or platinum sold in the UK must be hallmarked, unless it is under a specified weight, and the hallmarking numbers released by the four UK Assay Offices are an excellent barometer of trends in the market.
"It underscores the continuing importance of Hallmarking
in terms of both consumer and trade protection and gives readers a succinct overview of the complex processes that are carried out before an item is hall-marked."
Historically the Hallmarking
Act has prevented the various Assay Offices in the UK from hallmarking
items made of a mixture of precious and base metals, and the regulations for mixed precious metal items have been very restricting.
The whole point of hallmarking is that it provides independent testing of silver, gold and platinum.
It is, perhaps, not insignificant that the EU Precious Metals Directive, which would end hallmarking, is supported most strongly by the Italian government.
is set to enter a new era as Birmingham Assay Office establishes the first UK sub office within a jewellery manufacturer's own premises.
However, the Post Office claimed the British Hallmarking
Council and the Assay Council of the UK, which Mr Gwyther represents, were over-reacting.
An opinion poll carried out for the four UK assay offices in Birmingham - the biggest in Europe - Sheffield, London and Edinburgh shows a great public awareness of hallmarking