How toxic are your vintage pearls?
When tested with an XRF instrument, this set of Grandma’s vintage faux pearls (that feel like real pearls!) were positive for Lead at 295,900 +/- 34,000 ppm. At this level of Lead this is essentially Leaded crystal that these pearls are made of.
The Lead is what gives them their weight and makes them feel real. If your vintage faux pearls are heavy they are very likely Leaded, although the lighter plastic ones (ones that feel more like Mardi Gras beads) can also have unsafe levels of Lead in the paint or coating. [Here’s a link to an example of that.]
How much Lead is too much Lead? Why are these unsafe?
For context, the amount of Lead that is considered toxic in a newly manufactured item intended for use by children is anything 90 ppm Lead or higher in the paint or coating and anything 100 ppm Lead or higher in the substrate. Vintage pearls like this can have high Lead in both the substrate AND the coating.
As a result of the presence of Lead in the coating, these types of faux pearls also often test positive when tested with a reactive agent test – like a LeadCheck swab, indicating they have the potential to be especially dangerous – especially for use by young children. [Here’s my Amazon affiliate link for LeadCheck swabs too! http://amzn.to/2tpGNzO] This one of the consumer goods that is worth testing with a home kit if you have concerns.
What should I do with my (likely Leaded) vintage faux pearls?
I would definitely avoid passing these on to your children or grandchildren to play with, as if a child puts them in their mouth (as children often do with beads and jewelry) they could present a very real Lead poisoning risk. Here’s a post I wrote about the conundrum of disposing (or passing along) potentially Leaded items.
Here are more posts with vintage faux pearls I have tested.
For safer choices in jewelry to give to your children to play with and wear, please check out this post [LINK].
As always, please let me know if you have any questions! Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
*Amazon links are affiliate link. If you purchase something after clicking on one of my links I may receive a small percentage of what you spend at no extra cost to you. Thank you.
Hi Tamara, I was wondering if you’ve tested Majorica or Majorca pearls at all? My understanding is that those are considered to be the highest quality faux pearls, but wasn’t sure if they’re still testing positive. Thank you!
If they are faux pearls they are likely high-Lead. I don’t know that I have tested them specifically.