MUMBAI (Reuters) - India will make hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts mandatory from mid-January, a senior government minister said on Friday, a move that could boost demand in the world's second-biggest gold market by tackling quality concerns.
Hallmarking will be mandatory from Jan. 15, but a period of one year will be allowed to set up new hallmarking centres and to clear jewellers' existing stocks, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters.
Hallmarking jewellery is not yet mandatory in India, where jewellery quality is sometimes an issue, mainly with small jewellers, and customers face problems when selling old jewellery for cash or exchanging it for new.
"The move will bring trust back to the gold industry, benefiting consumers and trade alike," said Somasundaram PR, managing director of the World Gold Council's Indian operations.
Indians' penchant for gold spans centuries and is rooted in the Hindu religion. Households across the country own an estimated combined 25,000 tonnes of gold, with families often passing their gold assets down from one generation to the next.
Jewellery manufacturing is concentrated in a few cities such as Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Kolkata. Harshad Ajmera, former president of the Indian Association of Hallmarking Centres, said there were ample centres in these areas to cope with the change.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav, editing Louise Heavens)