Mr. CubicZirconia here of CubicZirconia.com. I recently communicated with a reporter seeking source material from industry brand/designers for a story on the dangers of “toxic jewelry” and wanted to help out. Our small firm enjoys publicity, yes, so any mention in his piece would be welcome…but more importantly, I asked him if I could hear when he's completed his piece so I can review for any new information that would affect our operations.
We are a small enough company that the product liability of one lawsuit could wipe out much of our profits, and so I want to thank reporters like this gentleman for investigations into this matter. I hope other jewelry designers and resellers are also conscientious to read what he found out.
Here’s my take on the toxic jewelry issue. The actions taken by big jewelry retailers* like Wal-Mart, American Eagle, Claire’s, Dollar Tree, Old Navy, Ross, Limited Too, Nordstrom Rack, Papaya, Target, Walgreens, Meijer's, Burlington Coat Factory, The Gap, Forever 21, Tween Brands, Hot Topic, Aeropostale, Banana Republic and others in recent years to limit certain substances in jewelry purchased to re-sell from manufacturers has been admirable-- but ultimately in our opinion these companies are doomed to continue a cycle with new toxic materials every few years.
Mass retailers that sell jewelry are always getting caught red-handed selling items manufactured with materials that are suspect. Why? The number one reason in my opinion is that manufacturers will agree to sell a batch of products for the retailer to re-sell at literally whatever price is offered by the retailer.
Wal-Mart especially has gotten so powerful that they dictate prices to their suppliers, and in some cases this can be dangerous for the retailer and dangerous for the consumer-- especially when health considerations are ignored in pursuit of profit margin protection.
What’s an example? The retailer’s purchasing agent will compare bids from various manufacturers for an item they want to stock and sell, and often go with the cheapest similar product rather than the company that initially pitched them on carrying the product.
Unless these buyers are educated about the difference, you get not only poor-quality jewelry to unsuspecting consumers, but you also get jewelry sold to men, women and children made with toxic levels of substances known to be poisonous: lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic and cadmium (can cause cancer, kidney failure, bone damage and miscarriages in adults as well as brain dysfunction in children) among others.
The danger of toxic jewelry increases significantly when the jewelry is manufactured overseas away from U.S. regulatory oversight. When the corporate purchasers of jewelry educate themselves about the dangers, it helps, but those are only the known dangers!
Some manufacturers trying to cut costs are liable to do anything in order to win-- or keep-- an order contract with large retailers that can buy millions of units. This means that as a retailer you cannot assume that the next batch you receive at the lower price you negotiated is going to be the exact same materials makeup of the last one. You have to ask! Not knowing what planned materials your manufacturer is going to use in order to save your retail company money is irresponsible.
Plus there's a “loophole” big retailers have used to keep toxic jewelry on the shelves-- because in many countries and U.S. states jewelry sold specifically for children is required to meet safety standards including levels of some of these hazardous materials being below a certain percentage threshold...but for the most part, adult jewelry is not as highly regulated with protections.
From a personal standpoint, our company CubicZirconia.com does not suffer in any way from doing the right thing in this area. We manufacture all of our finished jewelry in the United States, where regulatory oversight protects consumers much better than in other countries where cheaper jewelry is manufactured. We avoid known poisonous materials in the engagement rings, necklaces, bracelets, and pendants that we manufacture and sell--and try to stay abreast of any new toxic substances that researchers and journalists investigate (which is how I heard about Jamie’s planned story on toxic jewelry).
We don’t lose money and we don’t lose sleep because we charge fair prices and are a boutique firm not trying to cut corners and earn profit in volume with suspect manufacturing tricks.
We use only high-quality precious metals: .925 sterling silver (sometimes rhodium-plated for shine enhancement), 10K, 14K and 18K white, rose, or yellow gold, palladium, and pure 950 Platinum.
You can feel safe with our non-toxic cubic zirconia jewelry!
Check out our full product catalog here: cubic zirconia jewelry
Mr. Cubic Zirconia
P.S. If you remember nothing else, remember this. Some of these toxic substances in cheap jewelry touching the skin alone can make someone sick, but NEVER allow a child to suck on cheap jewelry you bought at a retailer-- even a “reputable” U.S. retailer. If it was made in China, as such jewelry often is, there’s a very high chance the jewelry includes toxic levels of cadmium-- that has been linked to causing brain dysfunction in children-- or other harmful materials that can be quickly and heavily absorbed in the bloodstream through the mouth.
P.P.S. If you own cheap jewelry from any of these named retailers and you are now worried about it...please note that there HAVE BEEN products RECALLED from these sellers. Just Google search "jewelry recall ____retailer name__" to find out if jewelry pieces you own may have been recalled without your knowledge. You can also call the store's corporate headquarters and ask if any of the jewelry pieces you've bought include any of the toxic substances listed (because of loopholes mentioned, even if the toxic substance is known to be in your jewelry, the product line may not have been recalled).
* Nothing in this article is intended to slander any company: information taken from publicly-available sources. Under no circumstances are we saying these well-known retailers are deliberately harming people with the jewelry they are selling, nor that all of the jewelry they sell is toxic (or even most of it).
We are saying that: in most cases retailers “self-police” for hazardous materials in the products made for them by their supplier manufacturers -- and, unfortunately often do a poor job of it.
Sometimes these reputable and ethical retailers are lied to and manipulated by suppliers trying to make money selling or continuing to sell to the big business. On the other hand, even reputable retailers often use loopholes to do “just enough” to be legal in a given jurisdiction-- even when science has factual evidence something is harmful but a certain government has yet to “catch up” and limit or ban the substance in products.
We’re also shining the light on this truth: lawsuits against retailers like these for knowingly or unknowingly selling toxic jewelry are fairly common.