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Hallmark, KDM and 916 Varieties of Gold

India is a gold crazy nation. The rich history and culture here has a strong connection with gold. Gold is considered as a status symbol. Be it a new born baby, bride or even celebrating festivals, gifting gold symbolises wealth. Gold ornaments are irresistible which never goes out of fashion. Gold also has religious significance as many Indian’s offer gold to their deities. Gold being the auspicious metal in India carries high level of emotional quotient. Not just a wealthy metal, gold is also considered as a good investment in India. This yellow metal comes in many varieties such as hallmark gold, BIS 916 and KDM gold. Let’s take a look at each variety of gold in detail.

What is Hallmark gold?

Purity of gold is always a matter of greatest concern when it comes to gold buying. Hallmark gold is nothing but the certified gold. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) stamp a certificate of purity and fineness of gold which is called as hallmarking. Hallmarking on the gold shows that the gold used for making jewellery adheres to the international standards of purity. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is a sole agency that is recognised by the Government of India to operate the certification scheme for hallmarking of gold jewellery. The hallmarking certification scheme is operating under the rules and regulations of BIS (Bureau of Indian Standard) Act. There are many assaying and hallmarking centres that are recognised by the Bureau of Indian Standard wherein licensed jeweller can get the hallmarking done. Hallmarked gold are laser engraved with all the details.

What is KDM gold?

Delicate and beautiful gold jewelleries are made through a process called ‘soldering’. It is a process where in two or more metals are joined together by melting and using a filler metal (solder) into the joint. The filler metal used should always have a melting point that is lower than the gold so that the purity of gold is retained when the jewellery is melted. Cadmium is used as the ‘solder’ with a ratio of 92 per cent gold and 8 per cent cadmium. This cadmium-soldered gold jewellery was known as KDM gold or jewellery. However, the Bureau of Indian Standards has banned these gold from circulation as it is proven to be hazardous to health of artisans working with it.

What is BIS 916 gold?

Usually, gold is categorised based on its purity. 24 carat, 23 carat, 22 carat and 18 carat etc., are the classification of gold based on its purity. 22 carat gold is referred to as ‘BIS 916’ gold. Basically, purity of gold in the final product is denoted by the number 916. It means, 91.6 pure gold in 100 gram alloy (a combination of metals). Likewise, 23 carat gold is referred to as 958 gold which means 95.8 grams of pure gold in 100 gram alloy. 18 carat or 750 gold means 75 grams of pure gold in 100 gram alloy. Pure gold is too soft in nature which makes it difficult to create intricate designs of jewellery. Delicate designs can be made using 22 carat or BIS 916 gold. Hence, most of the people buying gold ornaments and jewelleries usually go with 22 carat or 916 gold.


In a nutshell, gold is available in different varieties in India. Considering the ever-lasting value of this metal, you need to consider certain points while purchasing gold. Knowing the purity of gold you are buying is very crucial. Specifically, when you are buying gold ornaments, consider various factors along with purity such as making charges, man-made or machine made, weight, wastage percentage levied by the jeweller, buy back terms on the gold ornaments you are buying and hallmarking or certification of purity etc. Make the right choice and make your gold purchase a delightful experience forever. Remember gold is a metal that retains its value forever. Buying a certified gold ensures you quality and assures you on the value.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the details laser engraved in hallmark gold?

One should look for below details engraved on the hallmark gold

  • BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) mark
  • Fineness or purity grade of gold- it is classified as
    • 958- 23 carat
    • 916 - 22 carat
    • 875 -21 carat
    • 750 - 18 carat
    • 708 - 17 carat
    • 585 – 14 carat
    • 375 – 9 carat
  • Assaying and hallmarking centre’s identification mark
  • Year of marking
  • Jeweller’s identification mark

Basically, hallmarking of gold gives an accurate and official recording of the proportionate content of gold in the gold articles. Hence it’s a mark of purity and fineness of the gold articles.

How does hallmark gold benefits customer and the jeweller?

Hallmarking being the mark of purity and fineness of the gold article, develops export competitiveness in the gold market. The scheme is introduced to provide customer protection. Purity of the gold is measured by assay specialists assuring the credibility to customers. It gives a name to the jeweller for assuring the quality of gold he is providing. And consistency and commitment towards the quality of his gold are reflected through hallmarked gold. To sell hallmarked gold, jeweller also needs to obtain a certificate from Bureau of Indian Standards which adds credibility to the jeweller.

What is the difference between BIS 916 gold and KDM gold? Which one is the best?

Under Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act, assaying and hallmarking agencies certify gold on the basis on international as well as Indian standards. Assay specialists evaluate and test the gold jewelleries at the hallmarking centres and then provide the hallmark certification. BIS hallmarked 916 gold refers to purity grade of gold in the ornament or jewellery. That means purity is 91.6% -91.6 grams of pure gold per 100 grams of gold. Jewellers making BIS 916 gold ornaments are certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards. The list of certified jewellers are available on the website of Bureau of Indian Standards. To buy hallmarked gold ornaments or BIS 916 gold, you can locate the certified jewellers in your city on the BIS website. On the other hand, KDM gold refers to the gold ornaments that are soldered with cadmium. Many countries have banned KDM gold as cadmium that contains toxic fumes which are harmful to the skins. Even in India, cadmium-soldered gold jewelleries are banned for circulation in the market by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). However, after the usage of cadmium is banned, advanced solders like zinc and other metals came in use for soldering. However, non-hallmarked gold ornaments are still referred as ‘’KDM gold’’. That means, the major difference between the two- BIS 916 gold and KDM gold is that the BIS 916 gold provides guarantee on purity and fineness of gold jewellery as it’s certified. KDM gold on the other hand provides no guarantee on the purity and fineness of gold jewellery as it’s not certified. It’s quite simple to say that hallmarked BIS 916 gold would be the better choice when the purity is of greatest concern.

How jewellers can apply for license from Bureau of Indian Standards?

To get the Grant of license from Bureau of Indian Standards, jewellers need to follow the application procedure in a prescribed format. Here is the process flow:

  • Apply in a prescribed form for BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) certification by approaching concerned branch office of the Bureau of Indian Standards.
  • Enclose all the relevant documents asked for along with prescribed fees. Website of Bureau of Indian Standards can be referred for the details on documents requirements and fees.

How assaying and hallmarking centres are monitored?

The Bureau of Indian Standards conduct a regular surveillance audits of assaying and hallmarking centres. Basically, these centres conduct the test of gold ornament and articles purity and fineness. Performance of these assaying and hallmarking centres are considered while renewing their registration with the Bureau of Indian Standards. If it is found that the credibility of the scheme is not maintained as per the standards as mentioned in the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) Act, then the BIS can take necessary actions on such assaying and hallmarking centres.

Why ‘hallmark gold’ price varies with the normal gold prices in India?

Gold prices slightly vary from city to city in India. Also, the hallmarked gold ornament prices vary from the normal gold prices. The main reason for this is wastage and making charges levied by the jewellers along with hallmarking charges on the ornament. And also the price varies according to the purity grade (23 carat, 22 carat, 18 carat etc) of the gold articles. And the taxes are added by the jeweller selling the hallmarked gold jewelleries. Hence, the price of hallmarked gold certainly differs from the normal gold price in India.