We constantly receive samples and catalogs in the mail from importers and overseas findings manufacturers who want me to sell their goods. The first thing I do when evaluating a new vendor is look at the location of their manufacturing facilities. I want to make sure that I don't inadvertently sell you sterling silver that is way-less-than-sterling, or cast findings that are filled with lead. I have passed on lots of really cute findings and chains lately because of questions about the materials used or the location of the manufacturer. I see these findings turn up on lots of our big-box and big-catalog competitors at amazingly low prices and sometimes, for just a second or two, I think 'gee, maybe I should have purchased that!'
Then I read a story like this one in the News & Observer today. Now testers have found that cadmium has replaced lead in children's charms imported from China. Like lead, cadmium is cheap and casts so well, and like lead it even holds a nice plated finish. Unlike lead, cadmium is not currently barred from use in manufacturing accessories in China, and it is not barred from shipping into the country. The report says that the charms were tested to see how much cadmium a child would ingest by biting the charms but they don't say how much would be absorbed through the skin of a child who wore the charms. Either way, these accessories are a bit too dangerous. The story doesn't say that the same factories that make charms (and chain and clasps!) for bracelets sold at Claire's and Dollar Tree also make loose findings and parts that are sold to the big-box and discount craft supply stores.
As a business owner I have to select merchandise for our stores that is appealing to my customers. If I don't, I will go out of business. I think I also have a responsibility to select items that are safe to use and to wear.
I am happy that I can say that all our custom finished chains are all made in the U.S., that all our cast pewter charms are made in the U.S. and that all our plating is done here in the U.S. The high U.S. manufacturing standards and interstate commerce regulations (it is illegal to ship unlabeled lead items into or out of many states) means that I know these items are safe to use and wear. Many of the tests on imported items lag far behind the actual import and distribution of the items to stores, crafters and children.
Go here to read the full article.
(oh, for future reference, I also am quite pleased with E.U. and Japanese manufacturing standards and will use findings manufacturers from those areas as well)
NOTE: we are working hard to label all items on our website with the country of origin or, if the country shifts or the item is made, part-by-part, in a few countries, with the phrase 'imported' to help you make your purchasing decisions. If an item is not yet labeled, please contact me and I will find out the information for you. Cynthia 1/11/11