Measuring a ring | QIMA – jewelry quality control and inspections

Jewelry Manufacturing Inspections: What You Need to Know

By: QIMA Apr 3, 2024

Nowadays, there is a higher demand for quality control services in the jewelry industry than ever before. Part of the reason for this is the remarkable recent increase in its size. However, increasingly, jewelry brands are finding that they often need to go to extra lengths to ensure good quality levels and adherence to standards. On top of this, the industry is also under intensified ethical scrutiny.

For many brands, the growth of factory line produced jewelry has increased the need for onsite inspections of quality standards during manufacturing. While quality control is also important in other types of jewelry manufacturing, it is particularly important in this area of the industry.

When it comes to what’s available for factory line inspections, services exist at every level of production. Inspections extend right from the raw material stage to the packaging and shipping of finished products.

What are the Common Jewelry Inspection Processes?

Inspections for jewelry take three major forms:

  1. Onsite inspections of manufacturing facilities - onsite inspections, carried out at production facilities, ensure good quality standards in manufacturing. Additionally, some forms of product testing can be carried out at production facilities.

  2. Laboratory based product testing - laboratory tests are used to ensure that jewelry meets consumer safety standards in the markets in which it is sold.

  3. Supplier audits - Supplier audits cover a range of issues related to the competence of suppliers and the practices that they follow. Less commonly used than onsite inspections and laboratory based testing, supplier audits are still important to a number of jewelry brands.

Onsite Inspections for Quality Control

Onsite quality control inspections can be used to look for a range of potential issues and can be used at various stages of production, according to the needs of different jewelry brands.

What Do QIMA Quality Control Inspectors Look For?

The common inspections and tests that QIMA quality control inspectors make, when carrying out an onsite inspection, are as follows:

What Defects Do Inspectors Find?

The most common defects found during onsite inspections at jewelry manufacturing facilities are as follows:

What Types of Inspection are Available?

While the stage, or stages, at which different jewelry brands choose to carry out inspections vary, they are available at all stages of production.

The main types of onsite inspection are as follows:

1.    Raw Material Inspections

Raw material inspections ensure the quality of raw materials and allow brands to introduce quality control before production has even started.

A certified inspector will seek out deficient raw materials before they get through the factory door and onto the production line. As an additional benefit, raw material inspections can be used to ensure that materials are sourced from ethical suppliers.

2.    Initial Production Checks

An Initial Production Check (IPC) can occur from before the start of jewelry production up until 20% has been completed. They are used to identify problems at an early stage and to prevent them from affecting production, as it goes ahead.

3.    During Production Checks (DUPRO)

As production continues (when 20-80% of production is complete), inspectors mainly focus on quality consistency.

During production checks keep production running smoothly, ensure that it is on schedule and ensure that specifications are consistently met.

4.    Order Fulfillment, Packaging, and Labeling Checks

Both pre-shipment inspections (PSI) and container loading checks (CLC) ensure quality across a whole order by checking it at the final stage of production, or just before it is shipped.

These checks assess the quantity and quality of goods, as well as packaging and general workmanship standards. Product specific tests can be carried out for specific items of jewelry, as per client request, which allows for detailed assessment of products against specifications and quality standards.

These inspections give peace of mind to an importer that their entire order meets their own unique specifications and quality standards before it is shipped.

It should be noted that pre-shipment inspections are more thorough than container loading checks.

Laboratory Based Jewelry Testing

While not part of the manufacturing process, laboratory based product testing is often very important, being used to ensure that products meet safety regulations and designated quality criteria before they are sold. For example, in the US, all children's jewelry must meet the requirements of the CPSIA.

QIMA’s global network of accredited laboratories is used by brands all over the world, and our experts are able to help with a huge range of issues. We are able to test jewelry that is manufactured in a wide range of locations and ensure that it meets regulations specific to the markets in which it is sold.

Our experts also provide regulatory knowledge by request and ensure that you receive fast and accurate test data. On top of this, we also provide helpful analytics through our online digital platform.

What Laboratory Tests are Performed on Jewelry?

The common laboratory based tests that are performed on jewelry are as follows:

Mechanical/physical tests:

The following chemical tests are frequently carried out:

Why Do Jewelry Brands Need Quality Control?

Next to toys and other children's products, jewelry is one of the most scrutinized consumer items in the world.

The three main reasons why jewelry faces such scrutiny are as follows:

Quality Expectations are High

Whether it is a piece of fine jewelry or an everyday fashion item, consumers expect jewelry to be visually flawless and perfectly constructed. This is especially true for jewelry that carries any symbolic or sentimental value.

As well as there being high demands for presentation, expectations for structural and material integrity are also high.

Unsafe Jewelry is a Growing Concern

Product safety is important in many industries, but for the jewelry industry this is particularly true. In the jewelry industry, safety concerns are based on two major hazards.

Exposure to heavy metals and other harmful chemicals

Jewelry naturally comes into prolonged contact with our skin. Unsafe substances in jewelry, such as lead or cadmium, can leach into our bodies and cause serious health problems.

Choking hazards for children

Among other risks associated with jewelry for children, jewelry of poor construction can break into easily swallowable pieces. Tests, such as pull tests, exist to ensure that children cannot break jewelry and ingest small parts.

The Jewelry Industry is Vulnerable to Exploitation

In particular where valuable raw materials, such as gemstones and precious metals, are used in jewelry production, unethical behaviors such as worker exploitation, unsafe mining practices, environmental damage and unfair trade practices exist.

If a business is found to be using suppliers that follow unethical practices, it can suffer serious damage to its brand image.

How Can QIMA Help?

QIMA offers the full-spectrum of factory-line inspection, lab testing, and ethical auditing services specific to the jewelry industry.

Onsite Inspections

Our inspectors can be on the ground within 48 hours to ensure that your products are manufactured to the highest standards at all stages of production.

Laboratory Testing

Our dedicated experts and extensive network of laboratories ensure that jewelry products are tested according to the regulations that exist in the markets in which they will be sold.

We are able to guide jewelry brands through the testing process and provide complete peace of mind that all the necessary criteria that apply to an item of jewelry have been met.

Supplier Audits

For some jewelry brands it proves wise to take a more in-depth look at the suppliers that exist in the supply chain.

Whether there is a risk that suppliers are unethical or unfit for purpose in another way, a supplier audit can be used to take an in-depth view of the suppliers on which a jewelry brand relies. As well as rooting out suppliers that should not be used, supplier audits can also be used to improve relationships by providing information on what can be done to improve a relationship.

If you would like to introduce quality inspections, laboratory testing or supplier audits to your jewelry supply chain, then please get in touch with us today.

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