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5 Jewelry Distributors Hit With Penalties for Toxic Metals

They’ll pay $83,362 in all as part of a settlement.

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SACRAMENTO, CA – California officials announced settlements resolving allegations against five jewelry distributors for selling jewelry containing excessive levels of lead and, in one instance, cadmium.

The companies, located in Los Angeles and Santa Clara Counties, sold jewelry for adults and children with lead or cadmium at levels in violation of California law, according to a press release from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. In some cases, the jewelry exceeded the legal amount by 1,000 times. In addition, one of the companies misled consumers by labeling jewelry as “lead-free” even though it contained unlawful levels of lead, according to the release.

“Lead and cadmium are highly toxic and can cause serious health problems, even at low levels of exposure, and especially for children” said Becerra. “Today’s settlements should send a strong message to anyone who would put profits ahead of public health. It doesn’t pay – the California Department of Justice will hold you accountable.”

State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D – Los Angeles) said, “It is common knowledge that exposure to lead causes real and permanent harm. What is less well known is that lead is a common ingredient in jewelry. Also less well known is that cadmium is another toxic metal commonly found in jewelry. This bill takes into consideration the exposure to children and adults, the impact on industry, and the feasibility of the limits. It strengthens California’s lead and cadmium jewelry laws by establishing science-backed standards that have demonstrated success in both North America and Europe.”

Lead and cadmium are toxic metals that can cause severe and chronic health effects including neurological impairments, kidney damage, seizures, comas and death. Young children are especially susceptible to these adverse health effects, because their bodies and brains are still developing.

“Despite widespread publicity and concern about this problem, and in some cases repeated warnings from DTSC, the defendants continually violated the law in pursuit of profit, leaving the public to suffer the consequences,” according to the release.

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The settlements resolve allegations that the defendants violated California’s Metal Containing Jewelry Law and the Unfair Competition Law, and made untrue or misleading advertising claims. These settlements, filed as stipulated judgments, collectively award the State $83,362 in monetary penalties and include orders to comply with all statutes and regulations applicable to the manufacture, distribution, or sale of jewelry in California. The companies also agree to sell only jewelry that has been screened or tested before offering it for sale.

Defendants out of Los Angeles County:

  • Peer JS Inc. (Peer JS) will pay a penalty of $27,771.
  • Obedebom Inc. (Sun’s Trading) will pay a penalty of $20,000.
  • Andrea and Paulo Corp. (Andrea Bijoux) will pay a penalty of $13,416.
  • Seven Star Fashion Accessory (Seven Star) will pay a penalty of $7,175.

The defendant out of Santa Clara County, Le Belle Merchandise Corp. (Le Belle), will pay a penalty of $15,000.

Additionally, in an effort to protect the public from toxic metals in jewelry, Becerra and Mitchell have joined to update laws pertaining to jewelry. SB 647, introduced by Mitchell on Feb. 22, would improve the state’s outdated metal-containing jewelry laws to better reflect current and international science on the toxicity of lead and cadmium in jewelry.

Since 2006, Congress, Canada, the European Union, and the World Health Organization all recognize that lead and cadmium pose a higher risk and are more toxic than what is tolerated in California’s current law, according to the release.

SB 647 strengthens California’s lead and cadmium jewelry laws by establishing science-backed standards that have demonstrated success in both North America and Europe. Specifically, SB 647 does the following:

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  • Adopts the federal standard for lead in children’s jewelry (<100 ppm).
  • Establishes a cadmium standard for paint and surface coating of children’s jewelry pursuant to the ASTM International standard (<75 ppm).
  • Amends the definition of children’s jewelry to conform with Canada’s definition (jewelry intended for children under 15 years of age).
  • Applies the EU lead jewelry standard (<500 ppm) to adult jewelry.

Pictures of the jewelry are available here.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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