Safety First – The Problem With Beaded Teething Jewellery

So you may have noticed over the last few years we have totally stopped developing anything that is a beaded line of jewellery and I wanted to explain why.

It basically comes down to when we grew and got a presence in Australia, we discovered their standards are stricter than the UK and once we knew this, we felt it important to follow the most rigorous standards around. And that meant no beads and that all our items had to be large enough in their own right not to pass through a choke tube. This is currently not a UK requirement.

When we first launched, we were the only UK company, first to market and we just did pendants. Things grew and we developed new products making some beautiful pieces with beads and pebbles as well as bringing out bangles and toys, we, of course, checked the standards and made sure our items were compliant… which they totally were.

You see, teething jewellery is a bit of a mind boggle for the safety folk… it is not a toy… it is to be worn by the adult… so it’s not a toy right? Yet we know the intention is baby will play and gum it when worn by an adult… so if they are playing with it… it is a toy?

So after lots of discussions with our local authorities and checking the standards it was fine… we came to an agreement… as long as we had done the right tests done, which of course we already had.  It was also vital that we always promoted it as being worn by the adult, as long as we practised what we preached and never had a photo of a child wearing the necklace (for obvious reasons of a strangulation risk) and that warning was clear at the point of sale and on the packaging… it was to be worn by an adult… we were advised to ‘consider’ the size and shape of the parts… but this was not an absolute legal requirement for the EU.

Safety for us is NO.1 so we diligently and gently told customers who sent pictures in of their babies ‘wearing’ the necklace that this should not happen, even though most were just snapping a quick pic to show the life of Gumigem and were not really allowing their baby to wear a cord around its neck… despite peoples view of the public, in the main we are a sensible bunch and our fans and customer know how they should be used. We even contacted other brands that popped up across the Uk that posted actual branded images of their jewellery being worn by a baby to very politely let them know, as an industry… we have to practice what we preach so the products are used correctly. We even teamed up with some of the first brands who all came out about the same time, to form an alliance to try and police this a bit and protect our industry.

Anyway… I digress…. but being a creative type… my mind is racing with designs and ideas… beaded lines of course, would have knots between them… meaning that in the highly unlikely event the cord was to snap, or the silicone had not post cured properly and was soft so could be weaker, then only one bead would come off.

We grew and grew and in actually fact despite our beaded line, our pendants remained our top sellers, but we were thrilled to have a wider range to offer all tastes… then BOOM… a couple of years ago we get a letter from the Australian authorities… who take a completely different view to the UK and EU.

For them, it is black and white… if its for ‘teething’  therefore it is a toy… simple… so in their standards a toy for teething MUST be a certain size and not pass through a choke tube. To be honest… that made sense to me… if it is going in the mouth… surely better to err on the side of caution. The Australian authorities had written to EVERY seller of silicone teething jewellery… we were given a  couple of choices…take the word ‘teething’ out of our marketing and sell them as ‘mum necklaces’ or ‘breastfeeding necklaces’ or ensure every item we have and develop passes the teether test in Australia, or stop selling in Australia.

I am not a rule breaker, I am an honest person who likes to do the right thing…. for me… removing the word ‘teething’ and keeping smaller lines felt disingenius… like I would have been ‘tricking’ you guys… our customers… we all know what it’s for… and how it would be used….how could I possibly now continue to develop beaded lines? If the safety guys in one country thought this was important… then surely I have to… yes Australia is not our main market… yes I could have just kept selling and developing beaded lines here in the Uk and the USA, while only doing our pendants in Australia… but that did not feel right.

Now, don’t get me wrong.. I have no worries or doubt about anything beaded we have ever sold... or any of the smaller pendants… and there are lots of beaded lines out there now by other companies. And there will still be some of our old stuff knocking about online and there is nothing wrong with it… but for me… I could not have slept at night if I continued to develop lines like that, with the knowledge I now had.

I want to live by the toughest standard… even if it does not apply in every market….I want to put safety at the absolute heart of what we do and if there is a tougher standard in another country… then surely I should operate to that standard for all?

I want to live by the toughest standard… even if it does not apply in every market….I want to put safety at the absolute heart of what we do and if there is a tougher standard in another country… then surely I should operate to that standard for all?  These are our babies and certainly, when mine were little and even now, safety is NO.1, when it boils down to it, that is all that matters.

So here at Gumigem you will never see beads or small parts on our jewellery, we are chunky and funky, but most importantly because of that… THE safest option around… I love beads.. they are pretty, they can look amazing and some of the silicone jewllery out there is stunning… but I won’t put looks above safety. I also love the challenge of making items big enough to pass the test but still look amazing as jewellery and that is REALLY hard… we have cracked it with some designs… but not all and are constantly scribbling and designing what could be next… it is fun… beads are easy… our home grown designs are thought out.

All the other brands that sell beaded lines… please dont think there is anything ‘unsafe’ about them, and they certainly within the EU are doing nothing wrong or illegal, they meet the standards required here….plus… the chances of a bead coming off the strong cord that is used is probably a million to one… but I want for our company to make that a million to zero.

That is our choice… that’s at the heart of what we feel is important as a brand.