Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday's Treasures: With Jewelry, Often You Get What You Pay For

In an article from DailyMail.co.uk more inexpensive jewelry has been found on store shelves containing high levels of lead, mercury and cadmium. These items are marketed at children/teens/young adults and are sold in stores such as H&M, Claire's and Forever21, just to name a few (here's the link to the article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2117157/Claires-Forever-21-H-M-costume-jewellery-contains-high-levels-dangerous-chemicals.html ). While I would never recommend anyone wearing jewelry with these metals, growing children/teens are at particular risk of problems from these metals as they are still growing, their bodies absorbing many more toxins than adults normally would.

In this case, you really do get what you pay for. Cheap jewelry is going to be made with toxic metals, inferior connections, and little or no quality control. The prices of silver, gold, copper and platinum are at near record highs, and many large corporations are willing to sacrifice your health to make profits. The article notes that even items labelled as "Lead Free" still often had lead, and, in some cases, were ENTIRELY made of lead. Disgusting!

Here's just a snippet of what these metals can do, taken from the article on DailyMail:


  • The impact of even the smallest traces of lead on brain development in children includes irreversible learning and developmental problems leading to to lower IQ scores, delayed learning and shorter attention spans
  • The EPA has listed lead as a probable human carcinogen
  • Cadmium is classified as a known human carcinogen, associated with lung and prostate cancer
  • Cadmium exposure is associated in animal studies with developmental effects, including possible decreases in birth weight, delayed sensory-motor development, hormonal effects, and altered behavior 
  • Exposure to cadmium can result in bone loss and increased blood pressure
  • Acute toxicity from ingestion of high levels of cadmium can result in abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and death
  • Acute toxicity from inhalation of high levels of cadmium can result in symptoms similar to metal fume fever and severe gastroenteritis from high levels of cadmium ingestion 
  • Laboratory studies indicate that Cr (VI) may cause birth defects, and reproductive problems particularly in males
  • Higher levels of exposure have caused asthma attacks and nasal irritation in people
  • All forms of mercury can affect the kidneys
  • Organic, inorganic, and metallic mercury are toxic to the nervous system, each affecting different regions of the brain
  • Young children are more sensitive to mercury and may be exposed to mercury via the mother’s body to the fetus or through breast milk 
  • Inorganic arsenic is a known human carcinogen
  • There is strong evidence that it is linked to lung, skin, and bladder cancer
  • Inorganic arsenic may also cause skin irritation, skin color changes, blood disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and hormone disruption 
  • Preliminary data suggest that inorganic arsenic may interfere with normal fetal development and cause deficits in brain development and intelligence
  • Preliminary studies have correlated type 2 diabetes with low-level arsenic consumption, implying that drinking low levels of arsenic may lead to type 2 diabetes

THIS is exactly why I started making my own jewelry, so many years ago: I was getting rashes, my skin was turning green where the cheap jewelry touched me, and I knew, deep down, that something wasn't right with jewelry that could look so pretty, but be so inexpensive, lose their finishes quickly, and break so easily.

Camelia Bracelet, Now Available in My Shop on Etsy
While I use Swarovski crystal pearls and crystals, that do contain some lead (it IS leaded crystal, after all!), I am happy to use other alternatives when asked. I also recommend that children do not wear jewelry unattended, as they tend to put things in their mouths, which can lead to them being exposed to unsafe metals. I also recommend that parents talk to their children and teens about the dangers of chemicals leaching into their bodies from cheap jewelry, especially when put in their mouths. I shudder at the recollections of my childhood and teenage years, when I would put jewelry in my mouth. I wish I'd known then what damage I could have been doing!

For use in my handcrafted jewelry, I only purchase gemstones that are non-irradiated and try to give the exact gemstone name when I list a piece for sale. I only buy from reputable gemstone sellers, and I am happy to tell people where the gemstones came from, when I get that information myself.

When I use metals, I mainly use sterling silver, bare copper, and 14karat gold filled wire (I will be doing an article on what gold-filled is, versus gold plated, stay tuned for that). I occasionally use red brass, but I ALWAYS state what is in my pieces, so that if you have metal sensitivities, you will know which pieces to stay away from. I am always happy to make pieces in another metal to suit your tastes and allergies, all you have to do is ask. I get my materials from honest suppliers who also state what is in the materials I purchase, and I am happy to always answer questions regarding my pieces to the best of my knowledge and ability.

My pieces cost more, yes, but they are made with much higher quality materials than the cheap pieces you can get in almost every store out there. My pieces are high quality, and I take pride in making them as strong and as durable as possible, so that when you invest in one of my pieces, you can buy with confidence, knowing that it will last a lifetime with proper care and use.

What do you think of this article on Daily Mail? Are you surprised that cheap jewelry has toxic ingredients?


  1. I hadn't really thought about the toxins materials in jewelry. In the back of my mind I knew this. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

  2. I'm glad to help if I can Gaye, thank you for reading and commenting :)

  3. I have read that article from Dailymail and was very dissapointed by information revealed there. But it is true, some jewelries contain toxic materials that can harm our helph. Thus next time i will be very careful when buying jewelries.



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