Jaipur: Recently, the Centre had issued mandatory hallmarking guidelines for gold jewellery to protect consumers from being duped. But people buying diamonds and semi-precious stones are still not protected.
Hundreds of private labs have mushroomed in the country issuing certification for diamonds and semi-precious stones. There are no government guidelines or standards for these certifications, which leave the role of fixing prices at the hands of retailers and the certification labs.
Sources in the industry said some of the labs issue certifications as per retailers’ wish, thereby shortchanging the consumer. The consumer are forced to pay higher prices for gemstones and diamonds, which are of much lesser value.
The country’s accreditation agency, the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), does not have any guidelines for these labs. While the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council of India has two labs – Jaipur and Delhi —, it cannot cater to the huge transactions happening every day.
Besides GJEPC’s labs, most traders and retailer said standards of testing and certification done by Gemological Institute of America (GIA), International Gemological Institute (IGI), Gemmological Institute of India (GII) and Indian Diamond Institute (IDI) are more trusted. But the network of their labs falls far short of the demand from the country’s huge retail market.
This has led to the mushrooming of the private labs which neither have proper equipment, trained people nor the transparency in the absence of government guidelines.
In July last year, GJEPC had proposed recommendations to the ministry of commerce for bringing in minimum requirements with which a laboratory has to comply with and demonstrate its competency to carry out grading of diamonds and identification of gemstones and pearls, along with their disclosure in consistent and clear terms.
“The gem testing procedures are becoming similar to those of any other material testing in a laboratory and therefore, it is extremely important to formulate/ lay down minimum acceptable protocols to be followed for certification. This would enhance the credibility of certification resulting in consumers transacting with greater degree of confidence,” GJEPC had said in the recommendations.
Convener of gem testing lab of GJEPC Vijay Kumar Chordia said, “It is difficult to lay down specific standards as gemstones have varied range with regard to colour, quality, size, etc. But broad guidelines with regard to if a piece if natural or man-made or heated can be formulated.”
Some retailers said admitted that the issue of transparency in the colour stone business would be difficult to achieve but some there needs to be some regulatory compliance mechanism.