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Distributor Fined $1.6M for Selling Jewelry with High Lead, Cadmium Levels

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Much of the jewelry was for children.

A Los Angeles-based jewelry distributor and its owner have been ordered to pay $1.6 million for selling jewelry with excessive levels of lead and cadmium.

The California Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Toxic Substances Control secured a default judgment against Luxy Accessory Inc. and its owner, Hyun Sook Kim. Much of the jewelry was intended for children, and some was mislabeled as “lead free,” according to a press release from state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. He said that the acts constitutes a violation of California’s Metal Containing Jewelry Law and the Unfair Competition Law, and also that they constituted unlawful advertising. 

The judgment includes civil penalties and an order to comply with all statutes and regulations applicable to the manufacture, distribution or sale of jewelry in California.

“We’re holding Luxy accountable, as it should be,” Becerra said. “Lead and cadmium are highly toxic metals that can cause serious physical and behavioral health problems even at low levels of exposure. This is especially true for our children.”

In 2012, the Attorney General and DTSC jointly sued Luxy and a number of other jewelry distributors for selling jewelry that contained excessive levels of lead. Kim, failed to respond to the lawsuit and ignored repeated attempts that were made to contact her, according to the release. As a result, in 2014, the Attorney General’s Office obtained a default judgment against Luxy for $145,000 in penalties and injunctive relief.

The current case arises from subsequent inspections. In November, inspectors from DTSC returned to Luxy’s warehouse to inspect all of its jewelry for lead and cadmium. Using field screening devices, the inspectors identified about 150 boxes of jewelry suspected to contain excessive amounts of lead and cadmium. DTSC seized the jewelry while conducting laboratory testing to confirm the violations.

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The Attorney General’s Office obtained a preliminary injunction against Luxy in January to prevent it from selling any more noncompliant jewelry, and the court has now issued the default judgment after Luxy and its owner failed to appear in court.

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