just released a shocking study based on low-cost jewelry for children and adults, and the results are pretty scary. Of the 99 low-cost jewelry products tested, over half (58) had high levels of concern with one or more hazardous chemicals detected. The chemicals tested were lead, cadmium, arsenic, chlorine, PVC, bromine, chromium, nickel and mercury – toxins which have been linked to cancer, liver toxicity, impaired learning, birth defects, allergies, delayed conception, and more. The study is another reminder of why we (especially children, pregnant women and those trying to conceive) need to avoid cheap jewelry at all costs. Keep reading to learn more about the products tested.

Product samples were priced under $10 and taken from fourteen different popular retailers in six different states including: Ming 99 City, Burlington Coat Factory, Target, Big Lots, Claire’s, Glitter, Forever 21, Walmart, H&M, Meijers, Kohl’s, Justice, Icing and Hot Topic. The majority of these products were marketed towards children. Products ranged from tiaras, hairbows, headbands, necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets, watches, brooches and more. measured the presence of these toxic chemicals with an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer. You can read more about the specific products and their levels at

The most upsetting results are that 49% of the products tested positive for lead and over half of those exceeded the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulated amount of 330 ppm in children’s products. The majority of the high lead levels came from the crystals on jewelry like in tiaras, earrings, rings and necklaces, which are often most appealing to little girls. Even products that were labeled lead free, hypersensitive, hypo-allergenic and nickle-free contained unacceptable levels of lead, chlorine, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, nickel and bromine. Four the products tested had levels of cadmium at 10%, which is a known carcinogen, yet there are no current safety regulations for cadmium.

“There is no excuse for jewelry, especially children’s jewelry, to be made with some of the most well studied and dangerous substances on the planet,” said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center and founder of “We urge manufacturers to start replacing these chemicals with non-toxic substances immediately.” The best thing for parents to do is to avoid low-cost metal and crystal jewelry for their children and opt for silicone, fabric, sterling silver or gold jewelry.

Want to take action? Send an email to ask your Senator to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act (S.847), which requires:

  • Phase-out of the most dangerous known chemicals
  • Testing of new chemicals to make sure they are safe before they are sold to the public
  • Disclosure of chemical testing data
But until costume jewelry is deemed safe, stick to wooden play jewelry or jewelry from companies you know and trust to use only quality materials.
Lead image © mckaysavage