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Project at a Glance

  • A hallmark is a quality control mark placed on an article made of precious metal. Sometimes called a hall, assay or standard mark. It is usually applied after accurate independent testing by an assay office. In the United Kingdom, there are four Assay Offices which are legally empowered to test precious metal objects, and to apply a hallmark to them. These offices are in London, Sheffield, Birmingham, and Edinburgh.
  • Hallmarks are important because they guarantee to the consumer that the article has been independently tested to be of the stated minimum purity. They also inform and protect vendors from unintentionally mis-describing an article. The presence of a hallmark avoids the necessity of re-testing a piece whenever it is valued or offered for resale.
  • In recent years, Assay Office London has received over 69,000 packets containing over 6 million articles per year. The Assay Office is registered to ISO 9001:2000.
  • Before items made of precious metals such as silver, gold or platinum are stamped with an assay's hallmark they undergo rigorous testing to prove whether or not the metal purity measures up to the established standards. In fact, the word assay is derived from the French word meaning to test, trail or examine.
  • The basic method of assaying, also known as the cupellation process, was first introduced by the ancient Egyptians.
  • Traditionally, the hallmarks are 'struck' using steel punches. Punches are made in different sizes, suitable for tiny pieces of jewellary to large silver platters.
  • Laser marking also means that finished articles do not need to be re-finished. Laser marking works by using high power lasers to evaporate material from the metal surface.
  • Assaying and Hallmarking centers are facilitated with the equipment and machinery to check the fineness and karat of gold in gold jewellary and laser marking machines to hallmark jewellary.
  • Hallmarked jewelry carries five marks - the BIS logo, the fineness number, mark of the hallmarking center, year of marking and the jewelers mark.
  • The principal objective of Hallmarking is to maintain legal standards of purity /fineness in gold. In India, the BSI i.e. Bureau of Indian Standards undertakes certification of purity of gold jewellary in accordance with Indian Standards IS:1417 Grades of Gold and Gold Alloys.
  • At present, there are about 37 assaying and hallmarking centers in India - 8 in Tamil Nadu, 8 in Kerala, 6 in Maharashtra, 5 in Gujarat, 5 in Delhi, 3 in West Bengal, 1 in Andhra Pradesh and 1 in Karnataka..
  • India is the largest consumer of gold, followed by the USA. Indian jewellery has a huge demand in the world. India exported gold jewellery worth US $ 3,813 million in year 2004-05.

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