Most of us visit our local jewellery shop to buy gold jewellery and ornaments. One can now even buy gold jewellery online as well. But how do you check if the gold that you have purchased is pure or not? For this, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), a government body,certifies the purity of gold bought by you. The process of certifying the purity of gold called is hallmarking. According to the BIS website, there are two principle objectives of the hallmarking scheme:

a) To protect the public against adulteration

b) To obligate manufacturers to maintain legal standards of fineness/purity.

IS hallmarking consists of four components to ensure the purity of gold which are as follows:

1. BIS Mark;

Any gold jewellery, which is hallmarked by the BIS, will bear the BIS logo indicating that its purity is verified in one of its licensed laboratories. According to the BIS website, it is the only agency in India approved by the government for hallmarking gold articles of any kind to ensure its purity.

However, BIS hallmarking scheme is voluntary, not all jewellers offer hallmarked BIS jewellery.Some jewellers offer their in-house hallmarking of jeweller ..

2. Purity in Karat and fineness;

Purity of gold is indicated in two ways: Karat (denoted as KT) and fineness number. When purity of gold is measured in Karat, 24KT is considered the purest form of gold. But 24KT gold is considered too soft to be converted into any jewellery or ornament. Therefore, certain other metals such as silver and zinc are added to gold to convert it into jewellery.

Fineness number is another way of measuring the purity of gold. It is measured.. Fineness number is another way of measuring the purity of gold. It is measured in purity in parts per thousand. According to the World Gold Council website, 24KT should be 1.0, i.e., 24/24, but there is likely to be slight impurities in gold and can only be refined to a fineness level of 999.9 parts of thousand.

According to the BIS website, effective from January 1, 2017, hallmarking of gold is done only for three levels of purity, i.e., Karats. These are as follows:

22K916 Corresponding to 22 Karat
18K750 Corresponding to 18 Karat
14K585 Corresponding to 14 Karat

The fineness number and BIS hallmarked on the piece of jewellery indicates that BIS has certified it to be of the fineness level/purity that is embossed on it as part of the hallmark.

3. Assaying and Hallmarking Centre's identification mark/number;

The laboratory where your gold jewellery is assessed to check its purity is also required to put their logo on the jewellery. Only licensed laboratories of BIS can check the purity of gold. One can check if the hallmarking centre is licensed by BIS or not on their website. Click here to check the logo of the hallmarking centre on your jewellery.

4. Jeweller's Identification mark/number

The jewellery shop from where you are buying your gold jewellery will also put its identification mark. This mark can be of a BIS certified jeweller or jewellery manufacturer.

BIS on its website, has put out a list of jewellers that are certified by the BIS. The list can be accessed here. The list offers names of both gold and silver jewellers that are certified and licensed by BIS. This provides the names and addresses of the jewellers and date till which their licence with BIS is valid.

For gold jewellery hallmarked till 31 December, 2016

TIf you have bought the gold before 31 December, 2016, then there is an additional component that is hallmarked on the gold. Before revising the rules, effective from 1 January, 2017, BIS hallmarking scheme had five components.

The fifth component was the year of marking. It was a code letter representing the year of hallmarking of jewellery which is decided by BIS. For example, Letter 'A 'was used for year 2000 and 'J for' year 2008.

Things to remember

1. There are charges that have to be paid to get the jewellery hallmarked. As per the BIS website, Rs 35 plus taxes are charged per gold item. For a consignment, a minimum of Rs 200 plus taxes are charged.

2. Hallmarking is not done instantly. It may take approximately five to six hours to get the purity of gold checked before it is hallmarked.

3. If you have a complaint regarding your hallmarked jewellery, you can contact BIS by sending an email to complaints@bis.org.in / icare@bis.org.in or by telefax at 011-23235069.