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Around the world, the demand for jewelry continues to grow. At the same time, questions are being raised over hazardous substances, especially heavy metals, and the potential harm they can cause to humans.

woman wearing jewelry

To protect their citizens, many countries now regulate jewelry by setting minimum standards. Manufacturers must therefore ensure their products comply with the right standards for their target market. 

Jewelry is a diverse category of consumer product. These decorative objects can be worn on clothes, next to the skin, attached to shoes, and so on. Examples of jewelry include anklets, arm cuffs, body piercings, bracelets, brooches, chains, charms, crowns/tiaras, cufflinks, earrings, hair accessories, jewelry placed in the mouth, necklaces, pins, pendants, rings, tie clips, and wrist watches. Jewelry can also be made from a variety of different materials, such as ceramics, coating materials, crystals, enamels, glass, leather, metals and alloys, natural materials and plastics.

The popularity of jewelry means it is now a ubiquitous item for both children and adults. There are, however, concerns over the long-term effects of wearing jewelry made from some materials. For example, prolonged exposure to certain heavy metals can result in allergic reactions, learning disorders and/or damage to children’s livers and kidneys.

Global legislation and standards can be complex. Jewelry is regulated in Brazil, Canada, China, Oman, the European Union (EU) and the United States (US). For businesses to remain competitive, they must produce innovative products that are safe, high-quality, and compliant with the relevant regulations and standards. To add to the complexity, identical restricted substances or products may have to comply with very different legislation to access separate target markets.

European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA)

In 2017, the Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products (RAPEX) recorded over thirty jewelry notifications that regulated substance restrictions had been violated. According to the annual report, jewelry was one of the three most common product categories notified in Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands, and ‘chemical’ was in the top three reasons for notification in EU/EEA countries.

The EU’s principle law governing chemical use in consumer products, including jewelry, is Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). Annex XVII of REACH regulates the use of chemicals as substances, constituents of substances, mixtures and/or articles. This legislation contains two important provisions for chemicals in jewelry products, classified as articles:

  1. Restricted chemicals under ANNEX XVII. Some important entries for jewelry articles are summarized in Table 1

    Regulation (EC) 1907/2006, Annex XVII of REACH
    Entry No. Substance Scope
    23 Cadmium Plastic materials (synthetic organic polymers)
    Paint on painted articles
    • Metal parts of jewelry & imitation jewelry and their accessories
    • Metal beads and other metal components for making jewelry
    27 Nickel (migration) Post assemblies which are inserted into pierced ear and other pierced parts of the human body
    Articles intended to come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin
    43 Azo dyes Textiles and leather articles which may come into direct and prolonged contact with the human skin or oral cavity
    47 Chromium (VI) Compounds Leather articles or articles containing leather parts coming into contact with the skin
    50 Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) Articles for the general public containing rubber or plastic components that come into direct, as well as prolonged or short-term repetitive contact, with the human skin or the oral cavity
    63 Lead Jewelry
    68 Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts Articles
    Table 1
  2. The Candidate List of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) for authorization. There are currently over 190 SVHCs on the Candidate List and this list is updated twice each year. Jewelry products (articles) containing SVHCs may have the following obligations:

    a. Article 7(2) of REACH ‘Notification of substances in articles’. EU manufacturers or EU importers are obliged to notify the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) if an SVHC is greater than 0.1% and the total quantity of the SVHC in the articles exceeds one tonne per EU manufacturer or EU importer per year

    b. Article 33(2) of REACH ‘Duty to communicate information on substances in articles’. Suppliers of an article containing an SVHC in a concentration greater than 0.1% has a duty to provide the consumer with sufficient information, available to the supplier, to allow the safe use of the article, including, as a minimum, the name of the SVHC, within 45 days of receipt of the request 

Like many other international jurisdictions, the EU is also a signatory to the Stockholm Convention, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment by eliminating the production and use of internationally recognized ‘Persistent Organic Pollutants’ (POPs). The EU regulates these through Regulation (EC) 850/2004, a piece of legislation aligned with the provisions of the international agreements on POPs.

Jewelry products, like other consumer products, destined for a particular EU member state are obliged to comply with all applicable laws and standards as mandated by EU-wide legislation and the laws of that particular market.

United States

In the US, jewelry products intended primarily for children aged 12 years and under are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). At the same time, there are also a host of jurisdiction-specific regulations for both adult and/or children’s jewelry (see Table 2). For example, adult jewelry is regulated in California and Minnesota, Minnesota’s law is based on California’s ‘Metal-Containing Jewelry Law’, and cadmium is regulated in children’s jewelry in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and Minnesota. Each of these jurisdictions has its own set of specifications.

Stakeholders should also be aware that California also has a unique (Right to Know) law, known as Proposition 65 (Prop 65). This requires businesses to provide clear and reasonable warnings to Californian citizens about significant exposures to a list of more than 800 chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Once a chemical is listed, businesses have 12 months to comply with this requirement.

Jurisdiction Legislation/Citation
Federal Public Law 110-314 (CPSIA)
California Health and Safety Code § 25214.1-25214.4.2 (Metal-Containing Jewelry Law)
Health and Safety Code Chapter 6.6 §25249.5 - §25249.14
Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65 (Prop 65))
Connecticut General Statutes of Connecticut §21a-12d ‘Children’s Jewelry Containing Cadmium: Prohibition; Enforcement’
(Public Act 10-113)
Illinois 430 ILCS 140 ‘Cadmium-Safe Kids Act’ (Public Act 96-1379)
410 ILCS 45 ‘Lead Poisoning Prevention Act’ (Public Act 87-175)
Maine Title 38, Chapter 16-D ‘Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products’
Maryland Environment, §6-1401 through §6-1404 ‘Cadmium in Children’s Jewelry’
Minnesota 2017 Minnesota Statutes §325E.389 ‘Items Containing Lead Prohibited’
2017 Minnesota Statutes §325E.3891 ‘Cadmium in Children’s Jewelry’
New York Suffolk County Chapter 704: Retail Sales; Article VI ‘Children’s Products Containing Cadmium’, §704-40 to §704-47
Oregon 2017 ORS 431.250 to 431.280
‘Toxic-Free Kids Act’
Rhode Island Title 23 Health and Safety, Chapter 23-24.11
‘Comprehensive Children’s Jewelry Safety Act’
Vermont 18 VSA, Chapter 38A, § 1775 ‘Disclosure of Information on Chemicals of High Concern’
Washington RCWA 70.240.00 to RCWA 70.240.040
‘Children’s Safe Products Act’
Table 2

ASTM International has published two voluntary consensus technical standards for adult and children’s jewelry. These are:

  • ASTM F2923 ‘Standard Specification for Consumer Product Safety for Children’s Jewelry’
  • ASTM F2999 ‘Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Adult Jewelry.

Each standard has its own set of specifications for individual materials or components, including requirements for cadmium content, or soluble, migratable or extractable cadmium as an alternative, lead content, nickel release, soluble elements under ASTM F963, jewelry containing batteries, liquid-filled jewelry products, magnets or magnetic components, mechanical properties and/or warning statements. It also provides guidelines to identify jewelry that is designed and intended primarily for children up to 12 years old as well as those primarily for use by consumers aged 13 and older.

In June 2012, Rhode Island became the first jurisdiction in the US to regulate children’s jewelry to ASTM F2923 under its ‘Comprehensive Children’s Jewelry Safety Act’. This law has been effective since December 2012.

Canada

The overall framework for consumer product safety, including those for children’s jewelry, is the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA). Jewelry that appeals primarily to children under 15 years of age is subject to the CCPSA, Children’s Jewellery Regulations (CJR) and Surface Coating Materials Regulations (SCMR).

In May 2018, Canada published a completely new CJR (SOR/2018-82) to restrict lead and cadmium in children’s jewelry. This new CJR mandates the proposed cadmium limits and has introduced one of the most stringent lead content limits for (accessible) substrates in the children’s jewelry products industry. The specific requirements under SCMR and the new CJR are in Table 2.

  Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
  Children’s Jewelllery Regulations (SOR/2018-82) Surface Coating Materials Regulations (SOR/2016-193)
Scope Jewelry primarily for children under 15 years of age Surface coating materials on children’s products and pencils and artists’ brushes
Requirement ≤ 90 mg/kg lead content (accessible substrates)

≤ 130 mg/kg cadmium content for jewelry item that is small enough to be totally enclosed in a small parts cylinder when a force of not more 4.45 N is applied
≤ 90 mg/kg lead content
Effective Date November 2, 2018 June 2016
Table 2

Brazil

Jewelry destined for the Brazilian market is governed by Ordinance Number 43 of January 22, 2016. This regulation also came into effect in January 2016 and it restricts the use of cadmium and lead in jewelry.

China

In China, jewelry is regulated by two mandatory national standards. These are:

  • GB 28480 ‘Adornment-Provision for limit of baneful elements’
  • GB 11887 ‘Jewellery-Fineness precious metal alloys and designation’

Oman

In July 2017, the Omani Ministry of Commerce and Industry published Ministerial Decision 148/2017 of July 10, 2017, regulating children’s jewelry to ASTM F2923 and adult jewelry to ASTM F2999. These came into effect in January 2018.

SGS Jewelry Testing Services

SGS has a global network of accredited state of the art testing laboratories offering a comprehensive range of physical, chemical and functional testing services for components, materials and finished products. Our technical experts can devise not only a tailored program to demonstrate a product’s safety and compliance to regulatory requirements, but also help you to consider its intended destination markets. 

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For more information, contact:

Hing Wo Tsang Ph.D
Global Information and Innovation Manager
t: (+852) 2774 7420
www.sgs.com/hardlines