Saturday, March 8, 2008

Lead Awareness

I love my Californian customers. I do. They have been a large part of my customer base on Etsy. However, if you live in California, or if you are shopping for someone that lives there and you happened to stop by my Etsy shop recently, I can see why you'd think I don't. Several of my items will refer Californians to my profile where I state that if they were referred to my profile, I cannot sell/ship that particular item to California. It's not that I don't want to, it just that I'm probably not allowed to.

The State of California has passed a law that went into effect March 1, 2008. The details of this Lead-Containing Jewelry Law can be found here.

Lead poisoning is a serious matter, and lead is especially harmful when dealing with developing children. The law in California was prompted by the death of a child after swallowing a lead-containing charm from a piece of jewelry. Lead is not absorbed through the skin, but through ingestion and sometimes inhalation. If a child has handled something containing lead and sticks their fingers in their mouth, they could be exposed that way. It's usually not an acute problem, like the case of the child that swallowed the charm, but it tends to be something that builds up over time.

According to this law, adult jewelry sold in California must be made with Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3 materials.

My problem is that since I can not recall the brand of some of my metal components in the jewelry that I have for sale now, and therefore, I cannot assure my Californian customers that it falls within the legal limits set by their state. I am in the process of contacting the manufacturers of the materials that I know I use to get information regarding the amount of lead in their materials. I tend not to use sterling silver to keep the cost of my jewelry down. I will be using more sterling silver and gold filled components in my jewelry in the future.

After I buy many of my metal findings, such as clasps, earring wire, metal beads and so on, I dump them into a little jewelry tackle box organizer. When I see them on sale, or have a coupon, I stock up. Once they are out of the bag and into my box, I usually do not remember where I got them from and what brand they are. I'm kicking myself for that now.

Unfortunately, if I do not know who manufactured metal components of my jewelry, I cannot sell it to people in California because I cannot guarantee the lead composition. Some manufacturers are difficult to get in touch with as well and have not responded to my emails and voice mails.

Does this mean that my jewelry is dangerous? No, of course not. All of my materials are purchased within the United States, and must meet US standards. Lead is not absorbed through the skin, so unless you gnaw on metal components and beads in jewelry, you should be fine. You should not be putting random things in your mouth anyway, they could be dirty and have germs.

This bracelet is one of my items still available for customers in California!

Adult jewelry, however, should be kept away from children - regardless of the lead content. Children put random things in their mouths all the time, its part of their learning process. Not only could there be trace amounts of lead in jewelry, but glass beads can break, earrings are sharp, or they could break a small pendant loose and choke on it.

Other items known to contain lead include:
  • Toys painted in other countries
  • Dirt and soil
  • Furniture and houses painted before 1978
  • Tap water from lead pipes
  • Imported dishes/pottery
So, to my valued Californian customers:
I do have items available that I can sell to you for sure. I will also be looking for jewelry components guaranteed to be within the limits set by California in the future. I will also be using more sterling silver and gold filled components, unfortunately those items will cost more. If you see something you like that I can't sell to you, contact me. I can try to replicate it or make something similar using materials that I am sure are Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3.

Feel free to leave comments if you have any information that I've left out or if you know of any brands that sell silver/gold plated findings that are definitely within California's limits. There are a couple manufacturers that I've been able to get in touch with that have told me that their items are safe for sale to California.

For fellow jewelry designers-
I'm compiling a list of companies that will guarantee they sell beads and findings that are lead-free and/or within the standards set by the California state government:

According to the Director of Product Development of Sulyn Industries, all of their products are tested domestically and are within California and USA lead-free standards. Sulyn Industries distributes items under the brand name "fashion accessories" that are s

Blue Moon Beads says that all of their materials contain less than 200 ppm of lead.

Beadalon, a company that makes beading wire, such as the memory wire that I use in my chokers, has issued a statement that their products are within the limits and that they have purchased an analyzer to routinely test their products for potential lead content. Here is a copy of their statement.

Cousins Corporation has replied that their materials are checked in China and again in the US and are nickel and lead free.

Darice has issued a statement saying that the manufactures produce materials within federal regulations, however, they cannot guarantee that they fall within the standards set by California.

Nicole Crafts states that their findings are all within the limits set by the State of California. They have been within these limits since 2006.


diane said...

Very informative - thank you!

I passed the link along to my Twitter friends.

A Keeper's Jackpot said...

Thank you!

Jenn Maruska said...

Great post! I think referring your customers to that information shows that you are conscientious and putting your customers first. It reflects well on you and your shop.

I was looking at a pendant in another seller's shop and she mentioned that it didn't contain lead. I know very little about jewelry, so once I read that I freaked out and have been hesitant to buy any pendants because now I'm worried that they contain lead.

Your mentioning that lead isn't absorbed through the skin was educational for me.

: )

A Keeper's Jackpot said...

The law in California also states that piercing jewelry (for intentions of placing in a new piercing or mucous membrane) the material must be made of:

Surgical implant stainless steel

Surgical implant grade of titanium

Niobium (Nb)

Solid 14 karat or higher white or yellow nickel-free gold

Solid platinum

Dense low-porosity plastic, including, but not limited to, Tygon or Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), if the plastic contains no
intentionally added lead

I'm not sure if that means it can be absorbed in new piercings, but no matter where you live, its better to be safe than sorry.

Anonymous said...

I don't live in CA but this is very informative.

Nice blog :)

lilybirddesigns said...

Thanks for the info.