India has a rich history and culture and has always had a solid connection to gold. The yellow metal is considered a symbol of status and fortune. From a newborn baby to a bride, or even to felicitate achievements, or to celebrate festivals, gifting gold on various occasions is considered to signify luck and prosperity.
While gold jewellery is irresistible and never goes out of fashion, gold also has a religious significance. Gold is offered to their deities by Indians, and being the auspicious metal in India carries a high emotional quotient. Not just a metal of wealth, gold is also considered a good investment, be it through jewellery or coins, or others.
When purchasing jewellery, purity is always one of the most significant concerns for consumers. Whether you buy 22 karat gold or 18 karat gold, the main concern is the assurance of the quality of the gold. A few years back, there were many methods of making gold jewellery and no standard way of assuring its purity.
But with the arrival of the hallmarking system by BIS in India, buyers feel safer and more confident about their gold purchases.
The following guide briefly explains BIS Hallmark gold, KDM gold, and 916 gold, which we often come across when buying gold. Knowing these three terms' differences can help us narrow our gold purity and quality choices.
Hallmark gold is certified gold that goes through a quality check and assurance process called hallmarking. An agency under the Government of India called the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), carries out this hallmarking process to certify the purity and fineness of a gold item. Hallmarking on the gold piece shows that the gold used for making that item adheres to the international standards of purity under the rules and regulations of the BIS Act.
Hallmarked gold items are laser engraved with these four components - The standard BIS Logo, Purity in Karat and Fineness, the Assaying and Hallmarking Centre's logo or number, and the Jeweller's Identification mark or logo. Know more about these components through our guide BIS Hallmarking - Meaning & Importance.
The BIS is the only organization recognized by the Government of India that operates the certification system for hallmarking gold items, and it is easier for consumer to check gold purity in jewellery, coins, and bars.
The BIS recognizes many hallmarking and assaying centers wherein licensed jewellers can get their jewellery items hallmarked and certified. It is suggested to go for hallmarked gold items only to avoid forgery when purchasing physical gold such as gold coins & jewellery. Not only does it ensure purity, but the hallmark also helps one get better resale value while selling it later.
To know about KDM gold, we need to briefly learn the gold jewellery-making process. Gold is shaped into jewellery form by soldering (joining two metals by melting and using a filler metal called solder in the joint) myriad intricate gold parts, as gold is very soft. Soldering creates an alloy of gold and some other metal with a lower melting point than gold, so only the solder melts and joins gold parts together without affecting the gold in this process.
Previously, this solder was a combination of gold and copper, generally with a ratio of about 60% and 40%, respectively. Since it was firm and easy to make, it was widely used in jewellery-making for a long time. However, the downside to this was that the purity of the solder was merely 60%. So when this jewellery item is melted, the resultant purity level is less than 22 Karat. Due to this, some of your old jewel pieces may carry a seal of 22/20 (20, meaning the melting purity of 20 karat).
To overcome the above and maintain a high gold purity standard, cadmium began to be used instead of copper. The advantage was that gold and cadmium could be mixed in a ratio of 92% + 8%, resulting in a purity count of 92%. These processes are included in different gold karats, such as 10K, 14K, 18K, 22K, and 24K.
This ensured the quality and finesse of the jewellery piece remained persistent regardless of the amount of solder used. This cadmium-soldered gold began to be widely known as KDM gold, and the jewellery made out of it was called KDM jewellery. However, the BIS has banned such gold from circulation as it was found to cause health issues for artisans working with it and also for those wearing it.
916 in gold represents the finesse of gold jewellery – 91.6 grams of gold per 100 grams. Gold is categorized based on its purity, and 24 Karat, 23 Karat, 22 Karat, 18 Karat, 14 Karat, 10 Karat, etc., are the different gold purity levels available. 22 Karat hallmarked gold is referred to as 'BIS 916' Gold, the number 916 denoting the purity of gold in the final product. Similarly, 23 karat gold is 958 gold, and 18 karat is denoted 750 gold.
*You can learn all about the hallmarking process from our jewellery guide.
However, delicate designs are crafted using 22 Karat or BIS 916 Gold, which is more durable than pure gold (24K) and higher in purity than 18K or 14K. Hence, most people buying gold jewellery usually pick 22K or 916 Gold. It is also recommended to cross-check the current gold rate in your city before buying any type of gold item. You can check online or enquire about the same in the jewellery store.
Understanding the distinctions between Hallmark, KDM, and 916 varieties of gold is essential for consumers and enthusiasts in jewlelery and precious metals. While Hallmark ensures the purity and authenticity of gold through rigorous certification, KDM offers an innovative alloying technique to enhance durability and design flexibility. On the other hand, 916 gold signifies a specific level of purity widely recognized across various cultures.
Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently make choices that align with your preferences and values as you delve into the world of gold. For more such insights on jewellery, follow our jewellery education guide section on the Melorra website