Suppliers are imposing limits on chemical contents to reduce possible health hazards.
Yiwu in Zhejiang province is home to an estimated 3,800 manufacturers and 5,000 distributors of fashion jewelry, accounting for 70 percent of China’s entire output in the line. In 2011, the city shipped 8.1 million kilograms of products worth $103.6 million. These figures represent 60 and 53 percent of Zhejiang’s overall yield and exports, and 16 and 15 percent of the country’s total.
Makers in the hub offer rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, bangles, anklets, brooches, bangles, toe rings, chokers and tie clips.
Suppliers of fashion jewelry in Yiwu are increasing the adoption of nontoxic coating in response to stricter export regulations in key markets. This city in Zhejiang province, in fact, became the first in the country to implement safety standards for line in June 2012. These include directives on material selection and surface treatment.
The use of nickel, lead and cadmium as finishing options is a common practice in the industry. The first element provides brightness and corrosion resistance but often causes allergies. It is also lethal if utilized excessively. Buyers from the US and Europe often require overlays to be free of the metal.
Lead and cadmium content are also controlled in electroplating. Under EU standards, the migration rate of the former should be less than 0.09μg/sqcm per hour. The lead and cadmium limits in the US are 600mg/kg and 100mg/kg, respectively.
To ensure models comply with international requirements, Yiwu manufacturers conduct sweat and scratch tests. Samples are also sent to SGS and other third-party testing organizations for chemical analysis.
Additionally, a number of businesses, mostly large operations, have procured electroplating equipment from Italy. Some even hire technicians from Japan and South Korea with years of industry experience. Rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings dominate output and shipments. Metal releases often utilize iron, tungsten, stainless steel or zinc alloy. Plastic versions come in resin, acrylic and ABS. Wood, leather, shell andwax cord are the other material options.
Most products are embellished with rhinestones, beads, zircon, or CZ or Swarovski crystals. Many have floral patterns, and come with an ethnic or antique appearance. For enhanced aesthetics, the majority of designs are gunmetal-plated, or electroplated with brass, silver or gold.
Low-end models are below $1. These are often made of iron or wax cord chain, and may have a plastic, iron or wooden pendant. Some metal parts are rhodium-plated.
Midrange versions go for $1.10 to $2. Designs adopt wood, shell, metal and plastic, and feature multiple pendants. Several are coated with imitation silver or gold.
Upscale releases, quoted above $2, use similar materials as midrange variants but are typically electroplated with 18K gold. They are decorated with rhinestones, or CZ or Swarovski crystals.