In India, gold occupies a coveted status as the most sought-after commodity. The yellow metal is intricately linked with our numerous traditions. Be it the birth of a baby, wedding, housewarming, anniversary, or any other auspicious celebration, it's common practice to purchase/gift gold jewellery and ornaments.
On average, the country consumes around 849 metric tons of gold annually and ranks second in global gold consumption. The precious metal is seen as an investment, and families purchase gold in the form of jewellery, ornaments, bullions, or coins.
But, one question has always worried consumers – Is the gold I am purchasing pure? Despite its high value, gold is one of the most easily adulterated commodities. The unfortunate part here is that – detecting adulterations in gold is difficult and cannot be perceived with the naked eye.
This is where gold standardisations come into the picture. The purity of gold – ornaments, jewellery, coins, or bars – is determined by various standards like 916 gold, 18 karat gold, and BIS hallmark.
As a consumer, you need to be well-versed with the various gold standardisations, so that you can purchase gold jewellery with confidence. In this guide, let's take a closer look at 916 gold and how it differs from other common standardisations like 22K, 24K, BIS, and hallmarked gold.
What is 916 gold?
When you purchase a gold ornament or jewellery, you would have heard the salesperson referring to it as, "916 gold." Ever wondered what it is? The term denotes the percentage of gold present in the jewellery or coin.
When an ornament is referred to as 916 gold, it means it is made up of 91.6% pure gold and the rest with other metals. 916 refers to the finesse of gold. It’s the purest form of gold for ornament making.
100% pure gold is incredibly soft and ductile. As a standalone metal, pure gold is not suitable for jewellery making. Hence, it is mixed with other metals like copper, nickel, zinc, palladium, and silver to add strength and malleability.
What is the difference between 916 gold and 22 karat gold?
Technically, there is no difference between these two terms. They are the same. As mentioned above, 916 gold has 91.6gms of pure 24 karat gold in every 100gms of the alloy. 22/24, when represented in percentage, is 91.6%. Hence, 916 gold is also known as 22 karat gold.
Gold is a soft metal that has low durability. The purest form of gold, referred to as 24 karat gold, cannot be used for making jewellery as it is too soft.
When it comes to jewellery making, 22 karat gold is considered the purest form. On the other hand, when gold is purchased for investment in the form of bars or coins, the preferred quality is 24 karat. Even 24 karat gold contains a minuscule amount of impurity. It is not possible to make bars/coins with 100% pure gold.
Gold Purity Standards
Purchasing gold can be tricky, especially with the various purity terminologies. As a customer, you need to be aware of the different common gold purity standards so that you can make an informed choice.
99.9 gms of gold per 100 gms
95.8 gms of gold per 100 gms
|22 karat (916 gold)||
91.6 gms of gold per 100 gms
75 gms of gold per 100 gms
58.5 gms of gold per 100 gms
What is 916 hallmark gold?
Hallmarking is the process of certifying the fineness and purity of gold. In India, the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) is in charge of hallmarking the purity of precious metals like gold and silver. When you purchase a hallmarked ornament or piece of jewellery, you can be assured that it conforms to the standards enforced by the BIS.
Hallmarking ensures the authenticity and the purity of the gold ornament or coin. When you purchase a gold ornament that is 916 hallmark, you are assured of its purity. 916 hallmark gold will have the symbol of authenticity engraved by BIS.
The notation used to refer to 916 hallmark gold is 22K916. It is the purest gold that is used for jewellery making. From 15th January 2021, it will become mandatory for all gold jewellers in India to sell only hallmarked gold.
What to look for while purchasing 916 gold?
Gold can be easily adulterated. Customers need to make sure that the gold they are purchasing is indeed the purest form of the metal. Ensure that you check the following four factors while buying gold jewellery.
Gold jewellery that has been inspected and certified by BIS will have the BIS logo. The logo indicates that a laboratory licensed by the BIS has verified the purity of this ornament.
Currently, around 40% of gold jewellery and artefacts sold in India have the BIS hallmark certification. From 15th January 2021, it will become mandatory for all gold jewellers to sell only hallmarked ornaments and artefacts.
*Note that some jewellers provide hallmarking certification not verified by the BIS. This poses a risk to the consumer, as you are not guaranteed the specified purity. So, always look for the BIS hallmark to purchase certified gold.
Purity in Fineness (Karat)
Karat indicates the purity of the gold ornament. When it comes to gold jewellery, ornaments, and artefacts, 22K (916 gold) is considered the highest purity.
Hallmarking Centre’s Number/Mark
The purity of a gold ornament is assessed and certified by BIS-authorised laboratories. Look for the lab's license number or logo, to ensure that the ornament is evaluated by an authorised laboratory. The majority of jewellery sellers today provide certification cards, using which you can easily find the laboratory's license number. Sometimes, this number is also engraved directly on the jewellery, along with the BIS hallmark.
Identification Mark of the Jeweller
Jewellers have to emboss their identification number on the gold when they send it for hallmark certification. Look for jewellers who are BIS-certified to ensure the purity and fineness of the gold.
Gold is an expensive purchase. Hence, you have to be extra diligent and ensure that you are not getting cheated with low purity gold. Look for the 916 BIS hallmark to verify the purity and fineness of the gold. 916 gold (22 karat) is the highest purity of gold in gold ornaments, jewellery, and artefacts.