While jewellers across the country welcome the hallmarking of silver and gold pieces, it is the new HUID (Hallmarking Unique ID) which has become the bone of contention between the industry and the government. The HUID, say jewellers, has nothing to do with the purity of gold, and procuring this number leads to delays and loss of gold in weight.
Protesting against the government diktat a large number of jewellers even went on strike last month, the call for which was given by the Jewellers National Task Force on Hallmarking (NTFH). This organisation represents 350 jewellers associations and federations across the country. “We are against the arbitrarily implemented mandatory hallmarking process in the country by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS),” says Ajay Gupta, a small jeweller operating out of north Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh area. “For managing HUID, we need to have a proper infrastructure – internet, computer, a dedicated person to manage the procedure. We need more workforce and technology. Now, this is tough even for me, living in Delhi, Think about small retailers in far flung rural areas,” says Gupta.
Abhishek Kajaria, Founder, Avama Jewellers
Others have pretty much the same opinion.
“The imposition of HUID on every piece of jewellery is impractical for many reasons. There are approximately 950 Hallmarking centres across India out of which only 500 centres have opened in the last five years. As per World Gold Council there are approximately four lakh jewellers. This makes an average distance of 55 kms between two hallmarking centres. And since the HUID is generated online by BIS portals, there is a minimum waiting period of 7-10 days at every Hallmarking centre, which hampers business,” says Ketan Chokshi, Co-owner, Narayan Jewellers.
Abhishek Kajaria, Founder, Avama Jewellers opines that jewellers are already suffering a lot in pandemic and these new regulations are like adding salt to the injury, particularly because it is a complex, time-consuming and long-drawn process.
“I feel gems and jewellery businesses is being killed across India. The labs aren’t accepting jewellery as they have already stocked up to their insurance coverage limit. And since jewellers now cannot sell jewellery unless they are hallmarked, they are incurring losses,” he says adding that what government is not understanding that this would further lead to an increase in jewellery cost.
Agrees Jewellery Designer Astha Katta, Founder of a Silver Jewelry brand – Shyle by Astha: “Hallmarking the jewellery proves its authenticity. It improves the customer’s satisfaction and also Increases the conversion rate of the client, both of which are directly proportional to Brand Building and Authenticity. But it is also adding to the costing of the collection by a good percentage.”
Astha Katta, Founder, Shyle by Astha
More gold categories
There is more to it, explains Chokshi: “The addition of three more categories of 20, 23 & 24 carats is putting additional pressure on hallmarking centres delaying the entire process and restricting business. HUID is a time consuming and tedious process. First the HUID is generated online by BIS portal, then the jeweller needs to check the inscription, and put it on an excel sheet. Then once the jewellery is returned from hallmarking centre, they again have to verify every HUID, ensure same number is reflected in the online portal as well. And same design multiple pieces with a unique HUID is more confusing. Overall, it’s a very complex method.
Further, if a particular design is not moving or gets damaged, or an alteration is made, the jeweller has to go online to his BIS account and inform them about it.
The biggest challenge, jewellers say, is how to put a track on this HUID number. Also, in retail, many times one retailer is selling 50 pieces of the same design. And every piece has a unique HUID. Classifying and distinguishing in same design pieces is very complicated and almost impossible to track.
The jewelers are also questioning as to why of the 750 districts in the country the regulation is compulsory in only 250 districts. The government must first implement 100 per cent hallmarking across all districts and then implement the HUID number phase wise, opine jewelers.
Ketan Chokshi, Co-owner, Narayan Jewellers
The flip side
In gold business designs are copied very easily. It’s also very easy to copy the HUID which is inscribed by a normal laser machine which costs anything between Rs 5-7 lakh. Any manufacturer can copy a design and the HUID number and sell same piece in less purity in district where hallmarking is not compulsory. This would affect the buyer and also the jeweller to whom the HUID belongs. “The government should use some unique hologram technique for HUID which cannot be copied,” says Chokshi. “Also, some jewellery pieces are being cut for testing, which leads to loss of partial weight of jewellery,” adds Kajaria.