The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gold industry gears up for purity tests

New Delhi, Sept. 29 (PTI): Certification and branding seem to be the new buzzwords in the Indian gold industry, which is bogged down by recent reports of impurity and low quality of gold.

The industry has long been the domain of family jewellers and the consumers have totally depended on the word-of-mouth of the jeweller as far as purity was concerned. But not anymore, say experts as the consumer becomes quality conscious and the industry too tries to put its house in order.

From coming out with certified gold jewellery to using hallmarking and even karatmeters to test the purity of gold, individual jewellery houses are doing it all even though no law exists to that effect.

“All this has been prompted by the entry of foreign players in the jewellery segment. Quality is their main USP and because of the fierce competition they offer, the Indian industry too has to change,” says D’damas president Arun Bhatnagar.

But the main problem is that around 95 per cent of the market is in the unorganised sector, scattered in small towns and districts and making them quality conscious is a very difficult task, says Bhatnagar.

The industry has approached the government to come out with a gold quality control order, but nothing much has happened on that front, he added.

Y. L. Saroja, head of design and marketing at Tanishq, says, “Many studies by industry bodies have, of late, talked about the lower gold purity levels in the market... We had conducted a survey recently which also reinforced the findings.”

The survey found that average purity of gold sold in the market is 19.43 carat as opposed to 22 carat claimed by most jewellers. The gold received was as low as 16.32 in Delhi. However, Cochin topped the average purity list with 20.31 carat, he added.

The purity of gold was found to be lowest in Kanpur followed by Ranchi. The average caratge of gold in Kanpur was 17.02, while in Ranchi it was 17.95. Among the metros, Calcutta saw an average caratage of 19.71, Delhi 18.9, Mumbai 19.5, Bangalore 20 and Chennai 19.6.

However, Rajeev Arora of Amrapali says, “Self-quality control is very important for a jeweller’s own credibility... In fact it is very vital.”

As more and more branded jewellery is marketed, quality will become an important issue. As such there is no certification in India, but most of the exporters are stamping their own jewellery, which is then hallmarked by the local agencies in the importing country, says Arora.

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