Dubai: Dubai is famously called the "City of Gold". There are several reasons for this.
The first reason is mainly due to the fact that people from all over the world descend upon Dubai to buy gold because it is cheaper, and the quality here is also better.
The quality and purity of gold in Dubai is a brand by itself. Dubai Municipality, through the Dubai Central Laboratories (DCL), regulates the gold, silver, platinum and gemstones trades in the emirate.
Secondly, trust is paramount for precious metals. The emirate's entire jewellery trade rests on uncompromising standards.
Trust is the key value Dubai managed to keep — adhering to standards at every level. Weighing scales must be calibrated through unannounced inspections, ensuring milligram accuracy.
Last but not least, Dubai has maintained a rhythm to this system. We talked to the people doing the laboratory and inspections work who said they have a clear marching order, which is: "curb any comprises on quality and purity, and thus ensure the quality of the entire gamut of the jewellery trade."
Gulf News headed out to the Dubai Central Laboratory (DCL), an entity run by the Dubai Municipality, where we met the inspectors and laboratory technicians.
Inspectors deal with the front end of the trade, and conduct regular inspections of Dubai’s jewellery retail shops, taking samples that are sent in sealed and counter-signed pouches to the lab.
The lab technicians deal with the back end, and scrutinise each piece of gold using state-of-the-art equipment.
Their mission is simple, yet weighty: Ensure all that glitters in Dubai is indeed gold.
Inside the Dubai Central Lab
The Dubai Municipality (DM) has nine inspectors employed by DCL, four of whom are dedicated for gold and precious metals.
DCL was established 22 years ago in 1997 under the municipality. DCL has a number of sections:
- Food and Environmental Laboratories
- Construction Material Laboratories Section
- Consumer Products and Commodities Laboratories Section
- Renewable Energy and Electromechanical Laboratories
- Product Conformity Assessment Section
- Metrology Laboratories Section
- Business Development and Support Section (under one department)
Ismail Abdullah Almass, Head of Product Quality Control unit at DCL, said all routine inspections of gold and precious metals are conducted in support of Federal Regulation No. 9,1993 and Federal Law 11 2015, which pertains to hallmarking of precious metals.
“The purpose of the inspection is to ensure all pieces of gold bars and jewellery sold in Dubai are stamped with the correct fineness mark, indicating purity of gold content. And to ensure that there is quality products of gold sold in the market,” said Almass.
"This is thanks in big part to the efforts and initiatives of Dubai Municipality and ESMA (Emirates Standards and Metrology Authority).
"The strict regulatory measures set by these government entities ensure that the jewellery sold in Dubai meets the best quality standards."
In recent years, the Emirates Standards and Metrology Authority (ESMA) has implemented regulations on trading, hallmarking and certification of precious metals and stones.
This has further ensured that quality standards are maintained and consumer confidence is well in place.
Gold purity by carats: According to DCL
- The 24-carat mark carries a fineness mark 999
- 22-carat — 916
- 21-carat – 875
- 18-carat – 750
- 16 carat – 666
- 14-carat – 583
- 12-carat – 500
For gold, the 24-carat mark carries a fineness mark 999; a 22-carat gold is marked 916; 21-carat gold is marked 875; 18-carat – 750; 16 carat – 666; 14-carat – 583; and 12-carat – 500.
Silver and platinum jewellery pieces carry fineness marks as well.