RAPAPORT… The CIBJO Precious Metals Commission released a special report this week, highlighting new laws and regulations concerning precious metals, such as nickel, cadmium and lead in jewelry.
In the European Union (E.U.) there are new cadmium restrictions in place. Under Regulation (EC) 552/2009, there must be less than 100 mg/kg of cadmium in piercing jewelry, wristwatches and wrist wear, hair accessories, brooches and cufflinks. This draft is expected to be adopted during the first quarter of 2011 and could be enforced as early as July.
In the U.S., regulators can use two different testing methods when they begin enforcement. One is using ICP Spectrometers to perform ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectroscopy) to determine the amount of cadmium in the jewelry sample by weight. Some states have proposed legislation calling for a total weight limit of up to 75 parts per million (ppm). The second method — which is not widely accepted by the CIBJO Precious Metals Commission — is using the digestive acid simulation test, which determines the total amount of cadmium that can leak out of a sample of jewelry over a two-hour period. Two states with cadmium laws have a 75ppm limit in children’s jewelry.
Additionally in the U.S., with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed in July, there are new “conflict minerals” rules in place, mainly tin, coltan, tungsten, gold or any extracted mineral deemed by the U.S. as fueling conflict. The law particularly impacts minerals out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Beginning in 2013, publicly traded companies must submit annual reports to the SEC proving the source of minerals in an effort to end funding rebels in the conflict zones.
But seeking assurance from suppliers that products are “conflict free” is not enough. The act also makes businesses responsible for ensuring that minerals are “conflict free.” A group of jewelry trade associations, including the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee, told the SEC in September that they were concerned about how possible it would be to trace the exact source of gold. Guidelines on the details of what companies will have to report to the SEC will be finished in April. Many jewelry companies and trade bodies, such as the World Gold Council, are already establishing supply chains of custody to verify sources of gold.