Everyone wants something for practically nothing these days. Nobody, not even us, is immune to this widespread penny-pinching syndrome. Snagging a pair of cute earrings for $15 in the mall on the weekend? Score! A charm bracelet for $20 or so? You bet.
We wonder, however, if we’d all be as excited about our “affordable” jewelry if we knew what it was really costing us. In 2012, for instance, the Ecology Center tested samples taken from children’s and adult jewelry from stores such as Claire’s, Forever 21, and Glitter. The Center discovered that “many pieces of costume jewelry contain high levels of unsafe chemicals including lead, chromium and nickel.”
If you think this not-so-fun fact sounds bad right now, just wait until you hear the effects these chemicals can have on you and your children’s bodies. We promise you won’t think “cheap” jewelry is so cheap anymore.
Some Cheap Jewelry Contains Carcinogens
The Ecology center’s study revealed that many of the pieces of costume jewelry the researchers tested contained both known and probable carcinogens. Certain chromium and nickel compounds, for example, are “known to be human carcinogens” while lead is listed as a probable carcinogen.
So, what does any of this research mean for you? It means that your cheap jewelry might contain chemicals that can cause cancer. To be sure, we’re not claiming that wearing this jewelry will give you cancer. We are, however, suggesting that you might not want to load up on carcinogenic earrings, bracelets, and necklaces as they pose some risk to your health.
Some of Those Carcinogens Are Neurotoxins
As it turns out, carcinogens’ link to cancer isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when you buy cheap jewelry. Some of the carcinogens that turned up in the jewelry in question are also neurotoxins. In other words, they can have negative impacts on brain development when absorbed by the body. This is especially true for small children, who are known to put jewelry in their mouths.
Lead is one such neurotoxin. California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control attributes “behavioral problems,” “learning disabilities,” “organ failure,” and a handful of other health problems to lead exposure. Again, we’re not guaranteeing anything here. Still, staying away from lead-containing jewelry (and jewelry that contains other toxins) is always a great idea.
The Worst of It: Low-Cost Jewelry Isn’t Durable
Carcinogens and neurotoxins can pose serious risks to your health, so we don’t want to make light of them by suggesting that the jewelry’s durability is the “worst of it.” Even so, there’s something to be said about the fact that jewelry which contains these dangerous metals can actually have the audacity to fall apart on you after only five uses. And, no, we didn’t make that up. Low-quality jewelry can degrade fast, which means that you don’t really
save any money by purchasing it.
This pretty much means that you’re exposing yourself to toxins and getting nothing out of that exposure in the long run. Needless to say, the toxins in this jewelry are problematic regardless of its durability. We just thought we’d pettily point out that it’s not even cost-effective enough to justify potentially (and slowly) poisoning yourself.
Avoid Buying Cheap Jewelry
We know what you’re thinking: “This jewelry retailer is just trying to sell me jewelry.” And you know what? You’re right. There isn’t a jewelry retailer alive that doesn’t want to sell you jewelry. But you know something else? Regardless of what you think our intentions are, a nice portion of cheap jewelry is still chock full of carcinogens and other toxins, which means that you shouldn’t want cheap jewelry anywhere near your body.
Our suggestion is that you invest in quality jewelry. It doesn’t have to be the priciest jewelry in the world. You can find real gold jewelry for a fair price, especially if you keep your eyes peeled for deals.
Now go out into the world and start shopping for halfway decent fashion jewelry. You’ll thank us later.
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