Hallmarking is necessary today because when jewellery and silverware are manufactured, precious metals are not used in their pure form, being too soft. Gold, silver and platinum are often alloyed with copper or other metals to form an alloy that is more suitable to the requirements of the jewel or the consumer or the standards followed by the jeweller. Such an alloy needs to be strong, workable, yet attractive
Therefore, items manufactured and sold are of different fineness of the metal (purities) and need appropriate disclosure to the buyer during a sale. To validate its purity stated and protect customers against inferior metal standards, and guarantee that the purchase is genuine of a specific purity the hallmarking of the article was mandated.
The earliest form of hallmarking originated in Europe. Dating back to King Louis IX of France and Edward I of England in the 12th Century where state-appointed assayers examined every precious metal good and subsequently hallmarked every individual goldsmith with prescribed marks, and date of production, before being offered for public sale.
hallmark refers to the Goldsmith Company Assay Office (a hall) where hallmarking began in 1327, almost 700 years ago, with the statute being passed by King Edward III of England to the
Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, headquartered in London. The English term
hallmark originates with this hall where the marks were affixed, after testing along with its official stampings.
Thus, hallmarks are official markings made by competent authorities, the jeweller himself or as determined by the government, or by both and used on articles, which are accurately determined, with the official recording of the proportionate content of precious metal in the articles to protect the public against adulteration and to compel manufacturers to maintain legal standards of fineness.
Besides, certain official marks were also used to celebrate major events, like the ones found here.
Being an old name with a long history, products made by C. Krishniah Chetty have had various marks over the centuries. The catalogue of marks is over one thousand marks. From time to time, the firm has marked products for identification, purity, goldsmith, job work, weights, the year, and so on. That is one reason C. Krishniah Chetty marked products fetch higher prices on resale, especially if of a rarer design. Pieces dating back to the 1880s are still seen with C. Krishniah Chetty, along with other identifying marks, and have fetched soaring prices at international auctions.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), under the aegis of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Govt. of India, is the designated authority to implement hallmarking of gold jewellery in India and to bring transparency and trust in the jewellery trade amongst customers through third party assurance for the marked/fineness of gold and silver since the year 2000.
The process of law-making began in 1995 at the Kathmandu Convention, where the MD, Dr C. Vinod Hayagriv was part of a small delegation that formulated the ground rules for Hallmarking laws in India. Dr C. Vinod Hayagriv was insistent on bringing a law without 'negative tolerance' in testing, which is the law today in the country.
This is now a quality certificate issued by BIS guaranteeing the purity of gold in a certain piece of jewellery with no negative tolerance to all registered jewellers based on the purity tests at respective certified assaying centres. Presently hallmarking is done for six purities of alloyed gold - 14 karat, 18 karat, 20 karat, 22 karat, 23 karat and 24 karats. Depending on the karatage of gold jewellery, the 'purity and fineness', symbol would look like this: 22K 916, 18K 750 and 14K 585 representing 22 karat, 18 karat and 14 karat and so on respectively.
Since August 2021, C. Krishniah Chetty Group is battling with the government to allow all 15 legal purities, to be hallmarked from 10 karat to 24 karat, as C. Krishniah Chetty believes the consumer tastes are varied and the law should allow all legal purities to be hallmarked.
Only precious metals of gold & silver are currently covered in India for mandatory Hallmarking. (Other metals are still not under the hallmark law).
With certain exceptions for an item weighing less than a certain amount. The minimum weight and other thresholds in India are:
Gold 2 grams.
Silver 5 grams.
The items are said to be completely hallmarked if it consists of the following three compulsory marks.
The four mandatory & ethical standards components of the official hallmark on every piece of an article are at CKC are:
That's the testimony to unflinching standards since 1869.
Provide convincing evidence of their commitment to quality. Assurance of consistency in quality & purity of gold jewellery. An opportunity to describe, the way how they maintain their standards for quality management and later demonstrate that they consistently do what they claim i.e., international competitiveness and enhanced customer satisfaction.
The principal objective of Hallmarking is to maintain legal standards of purity/fineness in gold. In India, the BIS i.e., Bureau of Indian Standards undertakes certification of purity of gold jewellery following the Indian Standards IS:1417 Grades of Gold & Gold Alloys.