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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 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Fashion Jewelry Chain to Close All 261 Stores

3,000 employees could lose their jobs.

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Jewelry and accessories retailer Charming Charlie is closing all of its 261 stores in connection with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed July 11.

Bloomberg reports that over 3,000 full- and -part-time workers could lose their jobs.

The bankruptcy filing is Charming Charlie’s second in the past two year, Bloomberg reports.

Store closing sales are being conducted by a joint venture consisting of Hilco Merchant Resources and SB360 Capital Partners, according to a press release.

Charming Charlie operates in 38 states. A full list of closing stores is available here.

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The liquidation is expected to take two months.

The company’s debt totals $82 million, according to Bloomberg. Its cash on hand amounted to only $6,000  as of the bankruptcy filing.

Charming Charlie is a Houston-based specialty retailer focused on fashion jewelry, handbags, apparel, gifts and beauty products.

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Serena Williams Wears the Most Unusual Ear Jewelry in Harper’s Bazaar Feature

Can you even call it an earring?

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A new Serena Williams feature in Harper’s Bazaar is sure to attract attention.

The tennis player insisted that the photos be unretouched, and the cover shot features her mostly exposed backside.

But what might be most interesting to jewelers is the unique ear ornament she wore in one of the photos. We’re not even sure you can call this Gucci accessory an earring.

Could this over-the-ear look catch on?

INSTORE style writer Becky Stone doesn’t think so, although she likes the concept.

“I can hear the siren song of this piece! It takes the concept of jewelry adorning the body and elevates it by having the jewel actually become the body,” Stone said. “The look is surprising, sensual, and playful – an appealing combination. Serena looks like she might be a golden robot from the future, and I’m into it.

“That being said, I think there are a lot of practical barriers to the gilded ear’s mainstream appeal. Can she hear? Is her ear sweaty? How does that thing even stay on? I imagine it would have to be custom fitted, which is probably enough to price it out of the possibility of true street style success. I’d be very interested to see a scaled down version: maybe a smaller cuff that fits over just the upper cartilage, or a closely fitted lobe piece that’s anchored with a post for wearability.”

Beth Bernstein, also an INSTORE style writer, also felt the look was unlikely to take off.

“It might work for an editorial shoot or a runway show, but I don’t believe it will ever make it as a trend for even the high-end,” she said. “It kind of looks like the ‘Joker’s Mask’ for the ear.”

Jewelry professionals posting in our INSTORE Community group on Facebook had a variety of reactions.

Deirdre Crosse of Cipher Gems wrote, “Serena Williams requires an extraordinary design for it to register with the viewer. It’s a bold choice of adornment for strong subject.”

Deric Metzger, owner of DeMer Jewelry, commented, “This is the ear climber trend taken to its maximum natural conclusion and it’s every bit as unpleasant as I imagined.”

Other jewelry that Williams wore for the photoshoot included Cartier earrings, a Bulgari bracelet, a David Yurman bracelet and chain and an Audemars Piguet watch.

The photos appear with an essay penned by Williams about standing up for herself and becoming the strong woman, athlete and mother she is today. The issue will be available on newsstands July 23.

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Jewelry Retail Chain to Repay Workers Up to $17.5M

A review found that they were underpaid.

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Australia-based jewelry retailer Michael Hill plans to pay staff members up to a total of $25 million AUD (US $17.5 million) to make up for underpayments that occurred over several years.

The review was initiated by CEO Daniel Bracken and conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Yahoo Finance reports. The review found a “historic misapplication” of the retail industry award rate, mandated by Australia’s federal government, for some staff members in Australia.

Rapaport News quoted Bracken saying, “When we identified there was an issue, I mobilized a team, supported by independent external experts, to determine the scale of the problem, identify the individuals affected, and to ensure full compliance with the award going forward.

“We will move as quickly as possible to rectify any underpayments with those team members affected.”

The total cost of the repayment is expected to be between AUD $10 million and AUD $25 million, according to Yahoo Finance.

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Michael Hill has about 2,600 employees in 312 stores throughout Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The company announced in April 2018 that it was closing its nine U.S. stores after failing to find a buyer for them.

Read more at Yahoo Finance

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