This is a guest post from Hilary Smith.

Children are now wearing jewelry and fashion accessories on a regular basis. Whether they're channeling their inner fashionista or they're paying homage to their favorite princess, our children are amassing collections of baubles, trinkets, and more.

This fascination with bling is widely rampant because we can purchase children’s jewelry in almost every store, gas station, and tourist trap. Unfortunately, most parents aren’t aware of the dangers lurking beneath our kids’ favorite necklaces, rings, earrings, or bracelets. In fact, jewelry and small children can be a dangerous combination.

Surprising Jewelry Dangers for Children

Besides the obvious choking or strangulation fears, we often overlook the materials used to create these fanciful pieces, which inadvertently expose our children to harmful chemicals and potentially life-threatening consequences. In fact, just within the last few years alone, there have been over 180 million pieces of children’s jewelry recalled in the United States alone.

1. Allergies

Around one-fourth of the population exhibits allergies to certain metals, especially to nickel. Which is often used in jewelry and can cause rashes, redness, bumps, and more. This irritated skin condition is often known as contact dermatitis and can be very uncomfortable.

2. Toxic Metals

Surprisingly, a majority of jewelry recalls are caused by high levels of heavy metals, including lead, antimony, cadmium, and barium. Take a moment to consider the fact that nearly 25% of jewelry sold at the retailer giant, Wal-mart, was found to have 300 times the acceptable amounts of lead in products geared toward children. This is frightening because we all know the devastating effects associated with lead and developing bodies.

3. Small Parts

Most jewelry has small pieces like pendants, chains, and clasps. These can break apart and pose choking hazards for small children, or introduce harmful chemicals into the body. The small pieces can also make it difficult for little hands to undo clasps, which can make it difficult for them to release if they become tangled on furniture and playground equipment, leading to possible strangulation.

4. Scratches

Whether it is your wedding ring or an earring from Claire’s, jewelry poses the risk of scratching a child. Many children have had their skin broken from a wayward necklace or earring, which can result in a painful wound.

5. Magnetic Pieces

A variety of jewelry geared for children relies on magnetic closures to make it easy for kids to put on or take off the pieces. We need to consider that jewelry breaks, and sometimes children manage to swallow magnetic pieces. This can be deadly if more than one magnet is swallowed because they will search each other out and “adhere” together in the bowels and cause major damage, and possibly death.

6. Small Batteries

Children instinctively gravitate toward flashing and blinking jewelry commonly sold at dollar stores, circuses, and fairs. However, nestled inside are tiny button batteries that can wreak havoc on a child’s body if they become ingested.

How to Protect Children From Jewelry Dangers

Unknowingly, many of us have allowed our children access to tainted jewelry that has direct contact with their largest organ: their skin. If skin-to-skin contact isn’t enough to warrant our attention, we need to consider the fact that many of our young ones occasionally like to put the charms or chains in their mouths. This is important to consider because it is almost impossible to identify dangerous jewelry without doing a complete lab workup of the product.

To help you avoid making jewelry mistakes and safeguard our children’s safety, consider implementing the following guidelines:

  • Avoid buying cheap metal jewelry that costs less than $10 and was made in China. These pieces often have the highest amounts of toxic metals.
  • Encourage kids to frequently wash their hands after wearing or handling cheap jewelry.
  • Go through your child’s toy and jewelry boxes for older items that may have pre-dated current safety guidelines.
  • Make sure batteries are secured at all times, and never leave a child unattended while wearing light-up pieces.
  • Ask retailers about jewelry products before purchasing.
  • Understand that antique costume jewelry may also harbor heavy metals.
  • Only purchase items from reliable companies. 
  • Check for recalled items listed on the CPSC website

How do you keep children safe around jewelry?

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Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a freelance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology, and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent, she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.