Unlike British hallmarking (which is mandatory for all items of gold jewellery weighting more than 1g), gold jewellery made in India does not have to be hallmarked or assayed. For the consumer, there is therefore no guarantee that an item purchased contains the correct quantity of gold, or in-fact is gold at all!
Occasionally, we’ll receive an item bought in Asia in good faith, seemingly stamped as being gold, but being fake.
It is common to see Indian (and Asian) jewellery marked as ‘22kt’, but when tested may only be between 87% to 88% pure, the equivalent of 21ct gold. This could be down to the quantity of solder used in intricate items (solder is often of a lower purity) or the jeweller simply using slightly less gold to increase their margin.
To introduce more certainty within the Indian gold industry, the Bureau of Indian Standards introduced a voluntary BIS hallmarking scheme in 2000. For the consumer, an item of jewellery with the BIS mark can be relied on to contain the correct amount of gold.
Like a British hallmark, the BIS mark is made-up of a series of elements:
- the official BIS logo
- the purity / fineness of the item
- the assaying & hallmarking centre’s mark
- the date letter, indicating the year of marking
- the jewellers identification mark
The BIS logo
This is the official BIS logo. Jewellers who want to use the BIS mark must obtain a licence and adhere to strict guidlines relating to the purity of marked items.
Purity / Fineness
The BIS recognise the following gold purities:
- 375 : 9 carat
- 585 : 14 carat
- 750 : 18 carat
- 875 : 21 carat
- 916 : 22 carat
- 958 : 23 carat
Assaying & Hallmarking Centre’s Mark
This mark identifies where the item of jewellery has been assayed and hallmarked.
The date letter shows the year the item was hallmarked. Starting in 2000 with the letter ‘A’ and moving up one letter each year, it is easy to work out the correct date. In our example photo above, the date letter ‘L’ tells us the bangle was assayed in 2011.
This mark identifies the BIS certified jeweller / manufacturer of the item.
Related article: Bureau of Indian Standards hallmarking