Expectation vs. Reality - Part 2
If you haven't seen it already, you probably want to go and have a read of Part 1 of this mini-series here.
With that little bit of housekeeping out of the way, lets get to it!
So far I've received 1 of my orders, the wonderfully titled 'Hot Selling 15pcs/set New Women's Crystal Diamond Ring Set Wedding Party Rings Retro Bohemian Rings for Women', which rolls neatly off the tongue..... lol!
Ok, obviously I am not on a beach in my pic - and to be honest, the rings look like a fairly good match for what was advertised, sort of. You can bend each one in your fingers, the 'crystal' in the large 3 stone one (with the square centre stone) isn't in the setting fully, plus the triple band is a weird gunmetal colour and very rough to the touch.
Now for the 'what are these things really made of' test - the site just says 'Alloy' which could be literally anything!
I'm lucky enough to have access, via my more scientific minded other half, to an XRF scanner, specifically an ED-XRF (yeah I'm not sure either, but you can read about it here) which can identify different elements in an item.
First into the magic box of identification was the 'mystery metal' ring - are you on the edge of your seat yet? I mean, obviously it's going to be top notch metal, perhaps just badly made...... right?
Now for those of you not familiar with the wonderful world of metal composition, this is what the scan shows in plain english:
'Back away from the cheap ring - do not put it on, do not feed after midnight, do not get it wet'
Yep that is correct, to everyones surprise, it is not fit for skin contact, who would have ever guessed that....
The lovely chap that scanned it for me was so taken aback by the result, he had to use a back up scanner to double check it - with the following (slightly clearer to read) result - note the red 'failed' header:
What we're seeing here is basically an alloy of copper (cu) and cadmium* (cd), with a bit of zinc (zn) added for extra spice.
Copper, although it may turn your skin green, is pretty safe and I use it in some of my designs - so I'm not really worried about that. The major issue here is the cadmium content..... cadmium is a controlled substance, shown to have carcingenic properties in humans (e.g. it can cause cancer) as well as being incredibly toxic to both landbased and aquatic lifeforms.
This scan shows a cadmium level which is over 3000 (yes three thousand) times the legal limit in the EU - hence his amazement - he thought the first, very expensive, machine wasn't reading correctly! Sadly it was absolutely correct.
Suffice to say the others were pretty similar - some even had nickel*** thrown in there for good measure.
None of them met even the minimum safety standards** for jewellery to be on sale in/to the UK and EU.
The moral here is - if it looks too good it be true, it really is, and in this case, is bloody dangerous as well. Honestly, I don't want to sound preachy here, it's just not worth the 'saving' when you cold be risking your health - all for the sake of some cheap jewellery.
On a brighter note - surely the 'Women'S Three Stone Princess Cut 1Ct Diamond 925 Sterling Silver Bridal Wedding Engagement Band Ring' that I ordered will be exactly that...... stay tuned for the next installment in my 'WTAF is this' blog miniseries when they arrive!
*For more information about cadmium have a look here - this is the ECHA infocard about its toxicity.
**For more information about the EU safety standard (REACH) relating specifically to cadmium in jewellery, have a look at paragraph 10 here.
***Nickel is also regulated heavily in 'body contact items' in the UK & EU due to it's tendency to cause adverse reactions.
For more information about how hallmarking and buying from a reputable maker (like me!) can stop you from buying potentially harmful 'mystery metal' have a read of my 'What are these marks on my jewellery' blog here.