Toxic substances in stainless steel jewelry

Toxic substances in stainless steel jewelry , international standards.

  1. Definition
  2. Limits
  3. Test methods
  4. Test report example

I’ve seen a lot of arguments back and forth on the issue of toxic substances in stainless steel and fashion jewelry,  and one thing that really jumps out at me is how much confusion and misunderstanding there is regarding what the standards related to jewelry really mean. This is an attempt to clear up some of the confusion including simple instruction and up to date jewelry lab report examples.

High metal contamination in low-cost jewelry is a widespread problem. While the U.S. and Canadian legislation put emphasis on lead exposure prevention, other toxic elements like cadmium in jewelry are not regulated except in paint and coatings. After much discussion and consultation the European Commission has completed amendments to Annex XVII of Regulation1907/2006 (REACH), and published an Updated as on February 2016.

What regulations do we follow?

We at Hulpf jewelry follow the European Regulation and the REACH Annex XVII in specific as the EU legislation  regarding Toxic substances in stainless steel jewelry is more comprehensive and updated.

What substances related to steel jewelry we test for?

  1. Lead (Pb) content. Read more
  2. Cadmium (Cd) content. Read more
  3. Nickel (Ni) release. Read more…
  4. AZO dyes. Read more…

Where do we test  for Toxic substances in stainless steel jewelry ?

There are numerous independent internationally recognized labs and organization. We use SGS to test for toxic substances in stainless steel jewelry that we manufacture.

What the regulations mean to me as a customer?

Lead and its compounds in jewelry.

Section 63, Annex XVII of REACH will restrict the concentration of lead to 0.05% by weight. This will apply to any individual part of stainless steel jewelry articles, imitation jewelry, fashion jewelry, and hair accessories, including bracelets, necklaces and rings; piercing jewelry, wristwatches and wrist-wear; brooches and cufflinks.

63. 7439-92-1 231-100-4 Lead and its compounds

Shall not be placed on the market or used in any individual part of jewelry articles if the concentration of lead (expressed as metal) in such a part is equal to or greater than 0.05 % by weight.

(i) “jewellery articles” shall include jewellery and imitation jewellery articles and hair accessories, including:
(a) Bracelets, necklaces and rings;
(b) Piercingjewellery;
(c) Wrist watches and wrist-wear;
(d) Brooches and cufflinks;
(ii) “Any individual part” shall include the materials from which the jewellery is made, as well as the individual components of the jewellery articles.

Cadmium and its compounds in jewelry

Section 23, Annex XVII of REACH will restrict the concentration of Cadmium to 0.01% by weight.
This will apply to any individual components and assembled stainless steel and fashion jewelry articles.

23. 7440-43-9 231-152-8 Cadmium and its compounds.
Shall not be used or placed on the market if the concentration is equal to or greater than 0, 01 % by weight of the metal in:
(i) Metal beads and other metal components for jewellery making;
(ii) Metal parts of jewellery and imitation jewellery articles and hair accessories, including: bracelets, necklaces and rings, piercing jewellery, wrist-watches and wrist-wear, brooches and cufflinks.

Nickel release in jewelry.

Nickel and its compounds may pierce the skin and cause allergic contact dermatitis. The EU Directive 2004/96/EC was issued on 27 September 2004 to restrict the use of nickel in consumer products that may have contact with skin such as buttons, fashion jewelry, sunglasses and belt buckles. After REACH took into force, the directive was replaced by the Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 (REACH). Nickel release was then added to the REACH Annex XVII – REACH Restriction List.

The Requirements of REACH Restriction are for the release of the nickel in a given time and not the absolute content. There are 2 main jewelry categories.

  1. Articles that intend to pierce the human body for example ear studs and should release less than 0.2 µg/cm 2/week.
  2. Articles that intend to come into direct contact with the human skin should release less than 0.5 µg/cm 2/week.

7. 7440-02-0 231-111-4 Nickel and its compound
Shall not be used:
(a) in any post assemblies which are inserted into pierced ears and other pierced parts of the human body unless the rate of nickel release from such post assemblies is less than 0,2 µg/cm 2/week (migration limit);
(b) In articles intended to come into direct and prolonged contact with the
skin such as: earrings, necklaces, bracelets and chains, anklets, finger rings, wrist-watch cases, watch straps and lighteners, rivet buttons, lighteners, rivets, zippers and metal marks, when these are used in garments, If the rate of nickel release from the parts of these articles coming into direct and prolonged contact with the skin is greater than 0,5 µg/cm2 / week.

AZO dyes in jewelry.

AZO dyes are the name of the group of synthetic dyestuffs based on nitrogen that are often used in textile industry. Some AZO dye stuffs may separate under certain conditions to produce carcinogenic and allergenic aromatic amines.
Since Annex XVII of REACH came into force in 2009, the AZO Directive 2002/61/EC has been replaced by REACH regulation. AZO dyes are put on REACH Restriction List.  Leather and textile components in jewelry articles made of colored leather or other synthetic materials should contain less than 30 mg/kg.

43. 405-665-4 Azocolourants&Azo Dyes
2. Azodyes, which are contained in Appendix 9, ‘List of azodyes’, shall not be placed on the market or used for colouring textile and leather articles as a substance or constituent of mixtures in concentrations higher than 0,1 % by mass.
1. Azodyes which, by reductive cleavage of one or more azo groups, may release one or more of the aromatic amines listed in Appendix 8, in detectable concentrations, i.e. above 30 mg/kg (0,003 % by weight) in the articles or in the dyed parts thereof, according to the testing methods listed in Appendix 10, shall not be used, in textile and leather articles which may come into direct and prolonged contact with the human skin or oral cavity, such as: clothing, bedding, towels, hairpieces, wigs, hats, nappies and other sanitary items, sleeping bags, footwear, gloves, wristwatch straps, handbags, purses/ wallets, briefcases, chair covers, purses worn round the neck, textile or leather toys and toys which include textile or leather garments, Yarn and fabrics intended for use by the final consumer

How jewelry test reports look like?

This jewelry custom project involved different types of materials and components that related to all the above substances we mentioned in this post. For one of the bracelets we use synthetic colored polyester and we test for 22 different AZO dyes. In this bracelet AZO test report you can notice that the limits allowed is 30mg/kg and the result shows that none of the substances were deducted.

The silver color bracelet made of Brass and was tested for Cadmium content. In this bracelet Cadmium test report the results show content of 26mg/kg which is below the limit defined by REACH Annex 0.1% or 100 mg/kg.  For lead content test we choose to test several beads from the same jewelry project. The test report shows content of 22mg/kg much below the limit of 0.5% allowed by the EU regulation for stainless steel or fashion jewelry. For the nickel release test we choose different beads from the same project. This Nickel release report shows that the beads release less than the 0.5 µg/cm 2/week the max allowed rate for jewelry that come into direct contact with the human skin.

I hope that in this post I was able to clear some of the confusion surrounding REACH regulations  and make  toxic substances in production of stainless steel and fashion jewelry easier to understand.

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stainless steel jewelry manufacturer ad Hulpf


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