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I have two daughters, one 10 (going on 16) and one 8…just happy to be 8!  My 10 year old is at the age where she is very excited about fashion, jewelry and accessories, as are most of her friends.

One of the things I hear on an almost daily basis is that she would like “fashion” “fun” earrings that she can trade out to match her evolving sense of style.  Now, I like “zipper” and “gummy bear” earrings as much as the next Mom, but I remember that my mom and dad (being jewelers of course) were pretty adamant about my using ONLY sterling silver or gold in my earrings, rather than many of the other materials used in costume jewelry.

I have followed this mantra with my daughters, and have managed to order, inexpensive and fun (although nothing beats the gummy bears!!) earrings in sterling silver, which fulfill most of the criteria and have kept them happy.  I know that most of their friends, not being born into jeweler families…have splurged on many an accessory from these popular “accessory stores” everywhere.

That is why, when I read “Costume jewelry found to have high levels of toxins” from CBS News – which alerted me to the hidden danger lurking in these items, I was alarmed.

The Ecology Center, a Michigan based non-profit organization that advocates for a safe and healthy environment, took samples of ninety-nine different children’s and adult jewelry pieces from 14 different retailers (see the list of stores).

The researchers found that over half of the products had high levels of hazardous chemicals including lead, chromium, nickel and cadmium.  The first three of these are less worrisome, as they mostly are attributed to allergies (unless ingested, which can cause more alarming concerns) but Cadmium, a toxic metal that has been the basis for several jewelry and toy recalls according to CBS News, was found in 10% of the samples.

“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,” Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org, said in a written statement. “We urge manufacturers to start replacing these chemicals with non-toxic substances immediately.”

I couldn’t agree more!  So, the moral of the story?  Let your girls show their style sense with fancy barrettes and fashionable feather hair extensions, let them wear crackle nail polish and sparkly lip gloss…. But I won’t be putting anything on my girls ears that is not a “noble” metal.  Sterling silver is still affordable. I keep reminding myself that I am putting something through their skin.  We don’t know all of the ramifications yet of everything available out there…I believe it’s better to be safe than sorry in my humble opinion.