Lawmakers strengthen lead restrictions for jewelry
By Rhonda J. Miller PBN Staff Writer
A new Rhode Island law strengthening safety regulations related to the sale of children’s jewelry goes into effect in November. It updates 2012 legislation passed and signed into law requiring all jewelry and charms manufactured in Rhode Island for children aged 12 and younger must meet standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
The law was intended to cut down on unsafe levels of poisonous lead and cadmium found in children’s jewelry.
“The original law should have said all products ‘sold’ in Rhode Island, instead of ‘manufactured’ in Rhode Island,” said Brent Cleaveland, executive director of the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association, an international organization based in North Kingstown.
“It was literally a mistake, a clerical error. By changing the word, it changed the intent of the bill,” he said.
Now that the Rhode Island law has been clarified, the association is focused on harmonizing safety regulations for children’s jewelry in states across the country, said Cleaveland.
There are states that have conflicting standards, for example, on cadmium levels, and may not include other hazards in children’s jewelry, he said.
National concern about the safety of children’s jewelry arose several years ago when investigations showed that some foreign manufacturers had replaced lead in fashion and costume jewelry with the cheaper, but similarly hazardous, cadmium.
As a result of that scare, the American jewelry industry, along with the state and federal governments, began working on ways to keep cadmium out of jewelry.
That’s when the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association, which represents more than 200 manufacturers, retailers and importers, took the lead in creating a national cadmium standard in children’s jewelry.
Cadmium limits and testing standards were endorsed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, but have not been made into federal law. That’s why the association is working to harmonize state laws on the issue.
Some states enacted a variety of cadmium restrictions when the scare first came to national attention, said Cleaveland.
“We have science now that shows exactly what the toxicological effects are and what is safe,” he said.
“Our standard is the first example of a standard that is science-based and peer reviewed, setting the standards for safe jewelry for children,” he added. “Now the industry is complying with the standard.”