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Home > Craft Topics > Regulations > Nickel

Nickel in Jewellery and Clothing

The following information is for guidance only. For further information, please contact your local Trading Standards Service. 


Who should read this leaflet?


Anyone who supplies products intended to come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin, and which may contain nickel or its compounds. Examples are as follows:

*         Earrings and other body piercing items.

*         Necklaces, bracelets, chains, anklets and finger rings.

*         Wristwatch cases, watch straps and tighteners.

*         Rivets, rivet buttons, tighteners, zips and metal marks contained or intended to be used in garments.

What does the law say?


1. Products for use in piercings (‘post assemblies’)


Any post assembly, for use in piercings, must have a rate of nickel release less than 0·2 micrograms per square centimetre, per week. The post assembly is the part of the product designed for insertion into the wound caused by piercing, plus any faces that hold the piece in and against the wound (such as the ball or butterfly).

For post assemblies, which were first sold in the EU on or after 20th January 2000, but before 1st September 2005, the products did not need to comply with this rule. Instead, they could have been sold if they complied with the previous standard, which required them to contain no less then 0·05% nickel.


2. All products


As well as the specific rule for post assemblies for use in piercings, all products that come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin must have a rate of nickel release less than or equal to 0·5 micrograms per square centimetre, per week. In other words, it is prohibited to supply the product if the rate of release is greater than 0·5 micrograms per square centimetre, per week. 'Direct and prolonged contact' means actually touching the skin under normal use for continuous periods of time.

A product may contain nickel in higher concentrations;




only where they have a non-nickel coating;




the coating is sufficient to ensure that the rate of nickel released from parts in direct and prolonged contact with the skin is less than 0·5 micrograms per square centimetre, per week, for a minimum period of two years normal use

Where the above Regulations do not apply, for example, for products sold second-hand, the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 apply. These require goods supplied to be safe.


What should I do to make sure I comply?


If you are not the manufacturer, you should check with your supplier that the products comply with the Regulations. This could involve asking to see test certificates, or auditing your suppliers if you are a large retailer, for example. How much you need to do depends on a number of circumstances, e.g. the size of your business, but sitting back and doing nothing is unlikely to be sufficient.

If you are a manufacturer, you would normally be expected to have tested your products to ensure that they comply. It is recommended that a reputable test house should carry out any testing – for example, with UKAS, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service.


Failure to comply


Failure to comply with the Regulations is an offence under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.


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