(REUTERS) -- India has made hallmarking gold jewelery mandatory, a senior government minister said on Wednesday, a move that could boost demand in the world's biggest gold market by taking care of quality worries.
Bombay Bullion Association President Prithviraj Kothari welcomed the move, saying the government now needed to quickly build more hallmarking centres to keep pace with demand.
Gold prices are high. Customers paying a hefty price need to be assured of quality. It is good move for the industry, Kothari said.
Hallmarking can boost investment demand in jewellery form. Currently purity concerns deter many consumers from buying jewelery.
Traders also hope quality assurance would also lead to higher jewelery exports.
The move also prompted a call for similar measures on silver jewelery.
Hallmarking silver products is not yet mandatory in India, where jewelery quality is sometimes an issue, mainly with small jewelers, and customers face problems during redemption.
Like gold, the government should make hallmarking compulsory in silver. It is a big market. Many people invest without purity guidance, Kothari said.
Gold imports by India plunged 56 percent to 125 tonnes in the fourth quarter, cutting full-year imports by 8.4 percent as record high prices and high interest rates hit demand.