Rules can seem boring but rarely do they exist for no reason. In recent weeks, a study found some low cost necklace jewellery had excessive levels of lead, cadmium or nickel release.
The study, carried out by London Trading Standards on low-cost necklace jewellery found (in the worst cases) parts containing 82% lead and 56% cadmium. Lead and cadmium are known toxic substances and as such the levels allowed in jewellery are restricted to 0.05 percent and 0.01 percent by weight respectively.
When you consider that children in early stages of development can easily get their mischievous hands on jewellery, this really is no a desirable characteristic for jewellery, notwithstanding the fact that it is not great for adults either. True, the risks are most acute during the manufacturing process – cadmium vapour is not doing anyone’s lungs any favours – but really the risk should not be appearing anywhere.
This is exactly what REACH regulations were established for. Sending samples off to testing houses for toxicity reports is not a cheap process and slows down turnaround on new collections or pieces, but in a trade that is reliant on a strong public perception of its integrity, making sure jewellery is not chemically toxic to its wearers has to be high on the list of priorities.
I would like to say a quick word of congratulations and express relief that Theo Fennell, a much loved and super-creative jewellery brand, will remain in business. Theo himself was one of the first figures I met in the jewellery industry when I took up the editorship here four years ago. He gave me a tour of his Fulham Road premises and his workshops – it was a hell of a first impression of the world of jewellery craftsmanship.