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Difference between Hallmark, KDM and 916 Varieties of Gold

Being a country with a rich history and culture, India always had a strong connection 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 has a religious significance as well. Gold is offered to their deities by Indians, and being the auspicious metal in India carries a high level of emotional quotient. Not just a metal of wealth, gold is also considered as a good investment be it through jewellery or coins or others.

While purchasing gold, 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 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 are feeling more safe and confident about their gold purchases.

The following guide explains briefly about BIS Hallmark gold, KDM gold and 916 gold which we often come across at the time of buying gold. Knowing the difference between these three terms can help us narrow down our choice in gold purity and quality.

Hallmark Gold

Hallmark gold is the certified gold that goes through a process of quality check and assurance called as hallmarking. An agency under Government of India, called the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), carries out this process of hallmarking 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. The BIS is the only organisation recognised by the Government of India that operates the certification system for hallmarking of gold items including jewellery, coins and bars. There are many hallmarking and assaying centres that are recognised by the BIS wherein licensed jewellers can get their jewellery items hallmarked and certified.

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.

It is suggested to go for hallmarked gold items only to avoid forgery when purchasing physical gold such as gold coins & jewellery. Not only it ensures purity, but the hallmark also helps one to get better resale value while selling it later.

KDM Gold

To know about KDM gold, we need to learn in brief about 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) a myriad of intricate gold parts, as gold in itself is very soft. Soldering is a process of creating an alloy of gold and some other metal that has a lower melting point than that of gold so that 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 is merely 60%. So when this jewellery item is melted, the resultant purity level is less than 22 Karat. Due to this reason, 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 as well as to maintain a high standard of gold purity, cadmium began to be used in place of copper. The advantage was gold and cadmium can be mixed in a ratio of 92% + 8% and the result being a purity count of 92%. 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 to those wearing it.

BIS 916 Gold

916 in gold represents the finesse of gold jewellery – 91.6 grams of gold per 100 grams. Gold is categorised based on its purity and 24 Karat, 23 Karat, 22 Karat, 18 Karat, 14 Karat, 10 Karat, etc., are the different types of 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 called 958 gold, and 18 karat is denoted by 750 gold.

However, delicate designs are crafted using 22 Karat or BIS 916 Gold, as it is more durable than pure gold (24K) and also higher in purity content than 18K or 14K. Hence, most people buying gold jewellery usually pick 22K Gold or 916 Gold. And, it is also recommended to cross-check the current gold rate in your city before buying any type of gold item. For that, you can check online or enquire about the same in the jewellery store itself. 

Know more about the different levels of gold karats or purity through our guide on Difference between Gold Karats