The government has increased the import duty on gold and silver jewellery to 15 per cent from 10 per cent to protect the domestic industry, although it would make ornaments more expensive for consumers.
"To protect the interests of small artisans, the customs duty on articles of jewellery and of goldsmiths' or silversmiths' wares and parts thereof is being increased from 10 per cent to 15 per cent," an official statement said.
It said an import duty differential between jewellery and the primary metal is needed to protect millions of artisans who depend on the labour-intensive industry after the duty on gold was increased in stages to 10 per cent on August 13.
In the absence of any duty differential, the statement said, "there is an apprehension that Indian jewellery makers would not be able to compete with cheaper imports, particularly when majority of the imported jewellery is machine-made as compared to handmade jewellery in India."
The differential was 8 per cent in the case of gold jewellery and 4 per cent for silver jewellery in January 2012, when the government previously revised the levy on gold jewellery.
"The government has taken the right step by hiking the duty on gold jewellery. This will help protect domestic artisans," said P C Jewellers Managing Director Balram Garg.
Gold jewellery imported during 2012-13 stood at $5.04 billion. In the April-June quarter of the current financial year, it was $112 million.
India imports the maximum jewellery from Thailand.