Getting the Lead Out

Occasionally, someone will email us to ask about the lead content in one bead or another. This is Erin’s carefully researched reply.

Unfortunately many basemetal items can contain lead. We do not carry any products that we know to contain hazardous amounts of lead.

Some of the basemetal items we carry, such as those with product numbers beginning in “tc”, contain a minute and inconsequential amount of lead. The following is from their manufacturer…

“TierraCast uses an alloy called Britannia, composed of 92% Tin, 7½% Antimony and ½% Copper. Tin is refined from ore that contains other metals, including lead. A chemical process is used to remove the lead, but trace amounts still remain. Our casting alloy is routinely tested for lead content, yielding results ranging from 179 to 300 parts per million (PPM). This is well below the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) standard of 500 PPM deemed safe for pewter used for culinary purposes in contact with food. Although all pewter contains trace amounts of lead, the term “lead free pewter” is sometimes used to describe pewter that meets the stringent FDA standard.”

Many of the basemetal findings we carry, with fully numeric product numbers, are plated over brass and are lead free.

Unfortunately we do not know the exact metal compositions for a number of the basemetal beads and findings we carry. If there are specific items you are interested in, please let us know their product numbers. We can then contact our supplier, who can in turn contact the manufacturer regarding metal content.

Swarovski and Preciosa crystals also contain lead to give the glass added sparkle. We have read that Swarovski crystal contains approximately 32% lead. However, it is difficult for lead to leach out of crystal without prolonged exposure to liquids or acids. As such, California’s lead in jewelry law has deemed leaded crystal a Class 1 material with no restriction limit for use in adult jewelry. However, they have restricted the use of leaded crystal in children’s jewelry to 1 gram.

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