Lead testing for costume jewelry

I heard a quite frightening story about potential lead poisoning
from costume jewelry the other day on NPR.

I don’t buy costume jewelry for my girls, but my eldest daughter, 6
years old, often exchanges her toys for her friend’s cheap jewelry
at school; and her aunt, whose husband works for a department store
loves to give her the stuff. I ordered one of the lead test kits on
line, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

ls there any alternative to these test kits? Though the kits sound
inexpensive, $10 for a package of 8 swabs, we probably have a few
dozen pieces. Any consensus out there? I’m at the point where I’m
about to trash all the stuff and give her some gold or sterling
jewelry to replace it, but she might just trade it for a Bratz doll
or a pink Barbie purse if she had a chance.


Larry - I read the story in our state newspaper, and immediately told
my 14 yo daughter and her best friend. They both love to wear the
antique looking costume stuff, which is apparently what has the lead.
We are going through my daughter’s jewelry to figure out what to get
rid of. We figure the earrings are ok, if we switch out the earwires

  • the earrings themselves really don’t come in contact with your

What I can’t figure is how the stores can keep selling this stuff
now! It seems to me that they are a lawsuit waiting to happen - and
I’m sure it will! Unfortunately it may take that to get this
dangerous jewelry off the market. If you go in a place like
Claire’s - they are full of the stuff!

My daughter does wear sterling jewelry, or silver plate that she
makes - but she loves some of the costume stuff too.


Oh great I think maybe I would be trashing it all as well. Yes she
may trade a silver piece for a barbie purse but in the long run what
is a piece of jewelry compared to her health and life! Small price to
pay for her safety.

I think I would tell her that the jewelry she traded for can make
her sick so she shouldn’t trade for it anymore.

Just my thoughts.

America’s Only cameo Artist

Simple test for silver and lead;-


Make up a very small amount of a solution of Potassium dichromate
and concentrated nitric acid (quantities are unimportant) and apply
one drop with a glass rod to the slightly warm suspect metal. If the
metal contains lead, the drop of liquid will turn the bright yellow
of lead chromate.

If the metal contains silver, the drop of liquid will turn the
crimson of silver chromate.

Wash off at once.

IMPORTANT!! Do NOT allow the test solution to touch any part of the

Cheers for now,
JohnB of Mapua, Nelson NZ