Originally written on October 4, 2018
See below for November 2019 update!
A Tiffany & Co piggy bank (elephant shaped), new c. 2013, tested very high positive for Lead, but when I called Tiffany’s to ask them if they were aware of the new regulations, the company representative insisted (at the time) that this was not a violation of the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008) because (the company says) the product is “not intended for use by children.”
The image above is the 2018 version of the product (an image from Tiffany’s website today, 10/4/2018]. The exact one I tested in 2013 is in the image at the bottom of this post.
I was spending the night at my friend Amy’s house (near Palo Alto) when I spotted this little Tiffany & Co (Made in Italy) green spotted elephant shaped “piggy bank” on her young child’s dresser. [image at the bottom of the post.]
I tested it with an XRF instrument and it was positive for approximately 23,200 ppm lead.
The amount of lead that is considered toxic (and illegal) in an item intended for use by children (and manufactured after the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act of 2008) is anything more than 90 ppm in the glaze or coating or any thing more than 100 ppm in the substrate (the base clay of an item like a piggy bank.)
This bank came in at 23,200 ppm!!!!
I have previously always been a huge fan of Tiffany’s and their products – I registered with them for my wedding to my ex-husband even – so I was super disappointed to find this bank was positive for such high levels of lead and I was almost certain they must not know about the concern.
I called them and was forwarded to management in charge of regulatory compliance and was told that their piggy banks are “not intended for use by children” and are to be seen only as “decorative items” and are therefore not regulated by the CPSIA and not considered a violation of any kind.
ON WHAT PLANET is a piggy bank not intended for use by children?
Since then I have probably tested hundreds of piggy banks and noticed this is a consistent issue with this type of product, and that this loophole is being used by many companies (not just Tiffany’s!)
I have not tested the newer (2018) version (pictured above) and, as such, do not know if they are still positive for lead (5 years after I brought this issue to their attention), but you can see from the images posted here that the 2018 version appears to be exactly the same as the 2013 version.
You can buy this product new on Tiffany’s site for $125.00!!! Link [Note, just a link so you can see it in the wild, DO NOT buy this product!]
Note to retailers: just because a product is expensive does NOT mean parents are not buying it for their children!
Note to parents: just because something is made by a “reputable” retailer, manufactured in Europe and is very expensive, does not mean it is safe for use by children.
Given the 2018 listing on Tiffany’s site (see image below) specifically says “Baby’s first savings account” I think it is clear that they ARE marketing this to be used by children (contrary to what I was told in 2013 when I called), although I don’t know what their marketing language for this product was in 2013 when the item I tested was purchased.
I personally would no longer patronize Tiffany’s (if I had funds to do so) and am very upset with the company and their policies.
Please keep an eye out when purchasing piggy banks and specifically note if they have a label on the packaging that says “keep away from children” or “not intended for use by children”.
This is yet another example demonstrating that just because something is expensive that does not mean it is safe for children (or that it is a better better choice over something cheaper!) Click here to see yet another example of a super expensive yet super high lead product.
Click here to see more Tiffany brand items I have tested.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Click here to learn more about XRF testing.
November 2019 Update:
I tested a new version of these this past year (2019) – in a few different shapes and colors. The new ones appear to all be in the Lead-safe / Lead-free range, so perhaps our complaints (those of my readers and myself) made a difference? Who knows! I believe the details of the new ones are not quite as precise as the older ones (at least in the ones I have tested.) The pigs also have a different color scheme than the elephants. Check them out directly on Tiffany’s website link here.
This is disappointing. My girls have these piggy banks, but they have a pig and a bunny. Do you know if the lead readings are the same on those?? My girls tough them all the time 🙁
What specifically tested positive for lead? Is handling the item dangerous, or just dangerous if it breaks and dust is exposed?
I have a duck from 2017-2018 and a bunny from 2014-2015 thereabouts, are these also lead ridden?
A concerned parent
Thank you for commenting.
The glaze (exterior surface) is what was tested.
Based on follow up testing I have done it is likely that the 2017-2018 product is Lead-free and the 2014-2015 one is likely Leaded.
You can probably write to Tiffany and exchange the older (likely leaded) one for a newer (likely Lead-free) option. I don’t know for sure if they will offer a replacement, but it is worth making a request.
My main concern is with breakage in an item like this (and kids often break their pigs banks even if they are $100+ decorative items!)
You stated that you checked many (100’s) of other piggy banks as well. Do you know if one was the Pearhead Gray with white polka dots one? Also, will a home lead detection swab determine lead is present in my ceramic piggy bank?