Buy Lead-free Jewelry from Yiwu, China
Lead-free or Non-lead-free?
For this part, I think I will make it very briefly because you know your own market. You know what can sell on your market, lead-free or non-lead-free.
As far as I know, there are more and more countries are taking actions against lead. Like US, before, 600 ppm lead is acceptable. But things are changing now. For kids jewelry, I think they are asking for a 90ppm- lead, same thing also happens to Korea.
For a lot EU countries, buyers are still not caring that much about lead yet. One thing is for sure that more and more countries are joining in asking for “lead-free” products. They’re making new standards for lead.
For consumer’s safety part, this is a good thing though.
Is This Lead-free?
The situation in Yiwu market now is like this:
If you tell the suppliers there “I want lead-free”. They would for sure answer you “no problem, we can make lead-free”.
If you ask them, “Is this lead-free?” They would say “yes, lead-free!”
Then you may ask “how much lead in it?” You will find that many of them have no idea about how much lead in it. They don’t know what is 300ppm, what is 90ppm. Because for many of them, they just buy parts and findings from parts factories, and parts factories didn’t tell them a lot details.
So, if your country is very strict with lead. You’d better tell the suppliers what your standard is and let them double-check with the parts factories.
Don’t just make your decision on what you heard for the first time. As you know, most of the business here is like a “1 time done-deal”. They deliver their products, you pay them money. Then done!
Your agent can help you with the QC, but the point is lead cannot be easily seen by eyes, or smelt by nose. Your agent has to use some labs to randomly test the products. If you don’t pay the labs, I don’t think you can get your money back once you are shipped “lot-of-lead” products.
Because it's too hard for the agent to tell you “sorry, they deceived me, I’ll give you your money back”.
How Much Is Lead-free?
For this question, I think you want to know the difference between lead-free and non-lead-free.
In some cases, the suppliers in the market would tell you there is not much difference. This is too good to be true!
Be careful, they may just quote you a non-lead-free price than lead-free price. Cause they will ship out lead products, instead of lead-free products in the end.
In Yiwu nowadays, factories are using Zinc alloy to make lead-free jewelries. The current price of zinc alloy is about 30,000 CNY/ton, while lead alloy is just about 20,000 CNY / ton.
Lead alloy is mostly used if there are no requirements of lead-free. From this part, we can see that the price gap is about 33%. If a non-lead-free jewelry is 1.00 USD, then the lead free price will be about 1.33 USD.
They can’t be the same unless there are new technologies avail.
Considering lead-free jewelries needed to be produced in a separate workshop, and also lead-free jewelries consuming more molds (the silicon or rubber mold used for shaping alloy jewelry parts) than non-lead-free jewelries.
So the price is actually more than 33%.
What About “Bubbles”?
If you’re in alloy jewelries for a long time, you may experienced something like this:
one day, you received a phone call from your customer complaining that the jewelry they bought from you “grew bubbles”, then “bubbles fell off”, then “I can’t wear this”.
You may think hard “what are the bubbles?” "Where did they come from?" You may even doubt if your customer’s complain is true.
Until you got a returned product, you believed “there are really some nice bubbles!”
The even worse thing is you cannot see these bubbles while you were examining your products, your QC agent couldn't find these bubbles. The factory, well, they may know there is a possibility these jewelries will grow bubbles, but they didn't tell you.
So… you lose money, you get into trouble.
Why There Are Bubbles?
#1 You asked for lead-free, so factory used zinc alloy.
Zinc alloy really helped with low lead, but because in the mold, the hot zinc liquid become hard and take shape much quicker than lead ally. So there is not enough time for the liquid to make a perfect shape.
As a result, there are some tiny tiny micro-holes on the surfaces of the jewelry. Afterwards, these jewelries will be cleaned, polished and plated. So the air, acid and other dirt stays inside the tiny tiny micro-holes.
When these micro-holes jewelry are newly finished, they’re perfect. No bubbles, noting, just perfect looking.These jewelries will be packed in bags and cartons, and shipped to you.
If you’re lucky enough, when these jewelries arrive in, there are already some. So you see the bubbles and you stop selling them.If you’re not that lucky, you’ll sell these jewelries to your customers. Then after 3 or 6 months, you’ll receive a phone call complaining bubbles.
To avoid these bubbles, factories have to use a right alloy with a right formula. At the same time, keep the lead low. Or they have to take the measures below to make sure there are no tiny tiny micro-holes on the jewelry surface.
Some factories are still using the black rubber molds. These molds are cheaper, but they are not good enough to make a perfect surface.
If they’re using a better silicone mold, they can solve the tinny-tinny-hole problem.
If the factory wants to ensure the perfection of the jewelry body, they may consider using a steel mold. Steel mold is much more expensive, and only a few manufacturers here have it, so the purchase quantity has to be big enough.
Both the turning speed of the mold and the temperature of the alloy fluid also have to be right for perfect shape.
If the speed is not high enough, or the temperature of the alloy fluid is not high enough, they cannot make the perfect shape, then bubble grows…
For this part, they have to have someone who has the “know-how”.
All these alloy jewelries will be sent to a platting factory to have some kind of plating. Most of jewelry factories in Yiwu don’t do the plating by themselves.
So the plating factory is also playing a part for the final quality.