REACH Compliance in Jewellery: Ensuring Safety and Quality in the United Kingdom

When it comes to purchasing jewellery, most people focus on design, craftsmanship, and cost. However, an equally important consideration is the safety of the materials used. In the United Kingdom, the safety of jewellery is governed by the REACH Regulation, a critical piece of legislation designed to protect consumers and the environment from hazardous chemicals. But what exactly is REACH compliance, and why is it so important for the jewellery industry?

What is REACH?

REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals. It is a comprehensive regulation adopted by the European Union to ensure the safe use of chemicals throughout their lifecycle, from manufacturing to end use. Despite Brexit, the UK has retained its own version of REACH, known as UK REACH, which mirrors the EU REACH Regulation.

The primary goals of REACH are to:

  • Protect human health and the environment from potential risks posed by chemicals.
  • Promote alternative methods for the assessment of hazardous substances.
  • Enhance the competitiveness of the EU and UK chemicals industry.

REACH and the Jewellery Industry

Jewellery often contains a variety of metals and other materials that could potentially pose health risks. Common allergenic metals like nickel, cadmium, and lead can cause adverse reactions, making REACH compliance particularly relevant for this industry.

Key Requirements Under REACH for Jewellery
  1. Registration of Substances:

    • Manufacturers and importers must register any chemical substances used in their products if they exceed one tonne per year. This includes substances that are intended to be released from articles (e.g., fragrances in jewellery).
  2. Evaluation:

    • The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) evaluates the information provided by companies to ensure the safe use of substances. This process helps identify any need for further regulation.
  3. Authorisation:

    • Certain substances of very high concern (SVHCs) are subject to authorisation. Companies must apply for permission to use these substances, demonstrating that risks are adequately controlled or that socio-economic benefits outweigh the risks.
  4. Restriction:

    • Restrictions are in place for specific hazardous substances to limit or ban their use in consumer products, including jewellery. For instance, there are stringent limits on the amount of nickel that can be released from jewellery items to prevent allergic reactions.

Key Substances of Concern in Jewellery

  1. Nickel:

    • Nickel is a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis. Under REACH, jewellery must not release more than 0.5 micrograms of nickel per square centimeter per week.
  2. Cadmium:

    • Cadmium is toxic and carcinogenic. REACH restricts the use of cadmium in jewellery to less than 0.01% by weight of the metal component.
  3. Lead:

    • Lead exposure can cause serious health issues. REACH limits the amount of lead in jewellery to no more than 0.05% by weight.

Ensuring REACH Compliance

For jewellery manufacturers and retailers in the UK, ensuring REACH compliance involves several key steps:

  1. Understanding the Legislation:

    • Stay informed about the specific requirements of REACH and UK REACH, including updates and changes to the regulation.
  2. Material Testing:

    • Conduct regular testing of materials used in jewellery to ensure they meet REACH standards. This often involves working with accredited laboratories.
  3. Supply Chain Management:

    • Maintain clear communication with suppliers to ensure that the materials they provide are compliant with REACH regulations. Request documentation and certifications as proof of compliance.
  4. Product Labelling:

    • Clearly label products with relevant information regarding materials and compliance. Transparency helps build consumer trust and ensures legal adherence.
  5. Documentation and Record Keeping:

    • Keep detailed records of compliance efforts, including test results and communication with suppliers. This documentation is crucial in case of regulatory inspections or inquiries.

The Benefits of REACH Compliance

  • Consumer Safety:

    • Ensuring that jewellery is free from harmful substances protects consumers from potential health risks, fostering trust and loyalty.
  • Environmental Protection:

    • By controlling and reducing the use of hazardous chemicals, REACH helps minimize environmental pollution and promote sustainable practices.
  • Market Access:

    • Compliance with REACH is mandatory for selling jewellery within the UK and EU markets. Non-compliance can result in fines, product recalls, and damage to brand reputation.
  • Competitive Advantage:

    • Companies that prioritize safety and regulatory compliance can differentiate themselves in the market, appealing to health-conscious and environmentally-aware consumers.


REACH compliance is a crucial aspect of jewellery manufacturing and retailing in the United Kingdom. By adhering to these stringent regulations, companies not only ensure the safety and satisfaction of their customers but also contribute to broader environmental and public health goals. For consumers, understanding REACH provides reassurance that the jewellery they purchase meets high standards of safety and quality. As the industry continues to evolve, ongoing commitment to compliance will remain a key factor in sustaining trust and success in the marketplace.

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