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Jewelry Standards

The Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association (FJATA) takes consumer safety as its #1 priority and especially the most sensitive population of jewelry consumers, children. We were at the table in California, commissioning scientific testing and communicating with the judiciary, when a Safe Drinking Water and Toxics Enforcement Act (Prop 65) case was brought against some of our members and many other companies. These proceedings supplied the impetus to pioneer standards that would address all jewelry, from low-cost items to luxury brands.Jewelry companies have always been aware of the material specifications that define the metals, plastics, and crystals of which our products are primarily composed. We needed to identify safe specifications, should a product be accidentally ingested. Although it is relatively rare for a child to actually swallow a small jewelry component, we looked at that risk as well as risk stemming from mouthing and chewing, because these are fairly common.In this manner, FJATA recognized the issue at hand, and took significant proactive steps to develop a standard ensuring the safety of our products for all of our consumers, whether they be children or adults. We had developed a scientific understanding of product safety due to our involvement with the Prop 65 case; and were soon encouraged by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to include their research in developing a standard that would apply to all children’s jewelry. That standard was to be drafted through the ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) peer-review process.

In 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) became law, creating a national requirement for all children’s products with respect to lead content. For our part, we joined, and chaired, the ASTM F15.24 subcommittee, composed of representatives from CPSC, industry stakeholders, consumer organizations, testing laboratories, and scientists, in order to develop a comprehensive voluntary standard for children’s jewelry. We opted to directly incorporate the CPSIA-mandated federal lead limit into our developing standard, which was intended particularly to address cadmium content. We also wished for companies to be certain that products manufactured in accord with the completed standard would be in accord with all known assessments of risk.What came out of the hard work of that F15.24 subcommittee was a fully comprehensive standard for children’s jewelry, published as the ASTM F2923-11 Standard Specification for Consumer Product Safety for Children’s Jewelry. The ASTM F2923 document, now law in Rhode Island, reflects the best available information regarding safety. Note that the industry standard for toys, ASTM F963, was made mandatory by the CPSIA, yet was simply voluntary for decades. Regulators who were responsible for developing the standard for lead (and phthalates) in the CPSIA, knowing that ASTM F963 represents a satisfactory set of safety protocols, decided to include the toy standard as a legal requirement. F963 compliance requires many other safety measures than just for lead and phthalates: heavy metals in surface coatings, sharp points, and other hazard requirements became legally-enforceable through enactment of the CPSIA.

Jewelry has a completely different pathway of exposure than toys, which are continually-mouthed by the child at play. The F15.24 subcommittee accomplished, through the scientific, peer-reviewed ASTM process, the construction of a comprehensive standard for children’s jewelry – one that covers not just lead and cadmium, but also potential hazards like sharp points, tensile strength, heavy metals in surface coatings, nickel sensitivity, magnets, batteries, and more. The ASTM F2923-11 Children’s Jewelry Safety Standard is only two years old, but already (then-) CSPC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum has reported that “there is substantial industry compliance”.

Moreover, Chairman Tenenbaum stated that during tests of low-cost children’s jewelry in 2012, there were zero failures for cadmium, showing that industry has met the challenge. FJATA is working to encourage state legislators to adopt ASTM F2923 as their state requirement for children’s jewelry. We have been successful in Rhode Island, where the Comprehensive Children’s Jewelry Safety Act (CCJSA) was passed and signed by Governor Chafee in June 2012. We hold the Rhode Island legislature in high regard for their willingness to provide a legislative bulwark promoting the safety of children’s jewelry products sold in the state.

Our mission continues to inform other state legislators about the existence of a fully comprehensive safety specification for children’s jewelry. Further, we did not stop at defining protocols for children’s jewelry: we initiated and chaired a second ASTM process, this time for adult jewelry. In the wake of the enactment of the CPSIA, retailers had begun independently creating arbitrary criteria for adult jewelry. What jewelry companies needed, then, was a harmonized industry standard for adult jewelry products; a paradigm that, if followed, would assure safety.The new ASTM subcommittee, again composed of industry representatives, consumer organizations, testing labs, and scientists, completed its work in less than one year and, in July 2013, the ASTM F2999-13 Standard Safety Specification for Adult Jewelry was published. Including many of the same elements as the children’s jewelry standard, the adult standard details requirements for cadmium, lead, heavy metals in surface coatings, nickel allergenicity statements, magnets, tensile strength, and more. As a voluntary industry standard, ASTM F2999-13 is not a legal requirement; however, the industry has shown compliance.

Consumer safety is a top concern for all companies. FJATA has led the way in developing product safety standards for the fashion jewelry and accessories industries. First, by developing the ASTM F2923-11 Children’s Jewelry Safety Standard, we invoked sound science and risk assessment to guarantee the safety of children’s jewelry, while providing for product diversity and job retention. Second, with the F2999-13 Adult Jewelry Safety Standard, we proactively ensured the safety of adult jewelry, while being guided by a rational, harmonized risk assessment protocol that all manufacturers can follow.

Both the children’s and adult jewelry ASTM standards have been updated for 2014, and you can view the abstracts and purchase either standard using the links below.

If you would like more information, please contact FJATA Executive Director, Brent Cleaveland.

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