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Beware of fool's gold

       CHANDIGARH: All that shines may not be Hallmark gold. This should be kept in mind by all those out shopping for jewellery in the run up to 'dhanteras' and Diwali. Even after paying the current highest ever rate for the yellow metal, buyers cannot be sure of its purity. Varying rates of the metal from shop to shop only make it more confusing.

Most of the jewellers are selling ornaments with '916' inscription as Hallmark gold, which is not the only factor that a buyer should consider while opting for a piece of jewellery. There are five components, which make up a Hallmark (see box).

A jewellery shop owner in Sector 22 advised, "While buying gold one should not get carried away with discounts and freebies. It's always good to check the standard gold rate and buy certified jewellery. A thousand rupees would hardly make a difference when you are buying ornaments worth lakhs."

Talking about most common frauds he said, "Buyer, for instance, will be told that he has bought gold of 22 carats. When he goes to sell or exchange it he discovers that the gold is actually only of 18 carats. In India the emphasis is on jewellery of high carat gold. Problems arise due to lack of suitable high carat solders. The traditional handcrafted pieces in 22 carat contain many soldered joints and the use of solder alloys of a much lower carat undermines the quality".

The oldest types of fraud are those of adulteration by the addition of too much alloy, and the similar fraud of selling gold or silver articles, which are externally of standard fineness, but with base metal cores, he added.

Chandigarh also has a Bureau of Indian Standards certified lab in Sector 17 where one can get gold checked. Vinod Gakhar, who manages the hallmarking centre said, "Many people come to us to get their gold ornaments checked. Some of the jewellers also take Hallmark certification from us. The awareness is increasing, but things would not improve till the time every customer starts asking for hallmark jewellery".

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