FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dangers May Lurk Beneath
That Sparkling Gift…
by Antoinette Matlins
Jewelry tops the list of gifts that always brings a smile! But this
year the smile may be short-lived…some of those sparkling baubles may be
dangerous to your health!
According to Antoinette Matlins, a leading consumer advocate in the jewelry
field, and the author of numerous consumer-oriented books on the subject, if jewelry
is on your holiday gift list this year, you need to be especially cautious.
“Recently,” says Matlins, “the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued
a voluntary recall of ‘Children’s Mood Necklaces’ and ‘Diva Necklaces’ and
cautioned consumers to stop using these products immediately because they
contain high levels of lead.” The problem with these jewelry items is that
they could be toxic if ingested by young children. According to the CPSC,
there are 51,600 units now in the marketplace. “And priced at about a dollar
each,” continues Matlins, “adults are buying them as stocking stuffers for
children of all ages, and teenagers are buying them as gifts for friends.”
There is even greater cause for concern. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
In the latest edition of her book, Jewelry & Gems: The Buying Guide (GemStone Press), Matlins warns against a much more serious and pervasive
problem that could have severe health risks for as much as 10 percent of the
American adult public.
Matlins says the biggest problem is white-gold jewelry sold in the United
States. White-gold sold in the US is usually made by adding “nickel” to the
“gold” to make it harder and to create the “white” color. This is called
‘nickel-alloyed white gold.’ “But the problem with nickel-alloyed white
gold,” warns Matlins “is that it has been identified as the most common cause
of allergic contact-dermatitis and can lead to more serious allergies such as
hay-fever and even asthma!”
The proof of these allegations can be found in the UK and EC, where the
incidence of nickel-related allergies has increased so dramatically that
nickel-alloyed white gold has been banned for jewelry use. Researchers
believe the increase in the number of people suffering from nickel allergy is
related to several factors: early ear-piercing; an increase in the amount of
costume jewelry worn by young girls; and the increasingly younger ages at
which girls now begin to wear costume jewelry.
Matlins admits she doesn’t understand why the American jewelry industry and
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has done nothing to address the
problem in the US, and she finds this especially alarming now because of the
current popularity of “white metals”—white gold and platinum in
particular—and the rising cost of platinum. “I’m very concerned at the
moment,” says Matlins, “that with white metals remaining so much the rage,
and the price of platinum continuing to increase, white gold will become even
more popular as a choice for fine jewelry because it is so much more
affordable, especially for gifts for the younger set!” And Matlins knows
first-hand because her 13-year-old niece had a terrible reaction that
required medical attention.
Fortunately there are alternatives to nickel-alloyed white gold for those who
want a white metal and can’t afford platinum. “But first,” Matlins accurately
concludes, “consumers need to understand that they should be looking for
alternatives!” In Jewelry & Gems: The Buying Guide, Matlins recommends
“palladium”—a very affordable member of the platinum family, and one that is
being used by an increasing number of designers today—or “white” gold that
combines gold with platinum or palladium rather than nickel. “These are a bit
more costly than nickel-alloyed white gold, but more affordable than pure
platinum or palladium… and there’s no potential health risk,” Matlins adds.
Hopefully readers will take this message to heart, and make choices this
holiday season that will “sparkle” for years to come!