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Nickel Testing
The UK Nickel Testing Policy

Quick Nickel Test

1. What is the new ?Quick Nickel test??
a) The new Quick Nickel test is a quick, straightforward test which provides a result for each component within three working days and for a cost of only ?25 per article for up to five components and ?3.00/additional component
b) Components are identified as likely to ?Pass? to EN 1811? ? ?Reference test method for release of nickel from products intended to come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin?, or in some cases may require resubmitting for the EN 1811 test where the likely outcome is not clear.

2. Is the ?Quick Nickel test? based upon a recognised scientific approach?
a) The test includes EN 12472 ? ?Method for the simulation of wear and corrosion for the detection of nickel release from coated items?, prior to the item being tested for nickel release.
b) The nickel release part of the ?Quick Nickel test? is based upon the principles of PD CR 12471:2002 - ?Screening tests for nickel release from alloys and coatings in items that come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin?.
c) Based on our research data, we have found PD CR 12471:2002 to be only 83% accurate in identifying items which will comply with the Regulations when tested according to EN 1811.
d) The procedures involved in the Birmingham Assay Office ?Quick Nickel test? modified and developed PD CR 12471:2002 in such a way so as to reliably indicate which items coming into direct and prolonged contact with the skin are likely to comply with the regulations.

3. How reliable is this new test?

a) In the majority of cases (more than 98.5%), passing the ?Quick Nickel test? indicates that items will pass EN 1811 / EN 12472 and comply with the Nickel Directive. This is an acceptable level of certainty from a scientific point of view.
b) If, as is sometimes the case the outcome from the Quick Nickel test is not clear, this is interpreted as a ?Resubmit for testing to EN 1811? result. Based on current data, approximately 40% of items referred may prove to be compliant after testing to EN 1811.

4. How are test results reported?
a) Unless specific instructions have been received from the Customer, all component part(s) of product(s) shall be tested. Results shall be interpreted as follows: ?Pass? result ? indicates that the nickel release from a tested surface is likely to be no greater than 0.5 micrograms per square centimetre per week or less than 0.2 micrograms per square centimetre per week in the case of a post assembly. ?Resubmit for testing to EN 1811? ? indicates that the nickel release from a tested surface could be greater than 0.5 micrograms per square centimetre per week or 0.2 or greater, in the case of a post assembly.

5. Why is the word ?likely? instead of ?definitely? used in the test report?
a) The word ?likely? in ?Pass? results - In spite of a high level of confidence in the accuracy of the ?Quick Nickel test?, we are aware of the lack of repeatability of EN 1811. We are therefore obliged to use the word ?likely?.
b) The word ?could be? in ?Re-submit? Results ? sometimes it may be difficult to arrive at a definite conclusion, due to the presence of interfering elements and the influence of metallurgical and surface properties of the test item. In such cases, the result shall be reported as ?Re-submit? and the Customer shall be advised to provide a new item for testing according to EN 1811 / EN 12472.

6. Are the results for the ?Quick Nickel test? accepted in other European countries that require nickel compliant certification and not just in the UK?

a) The ?Quick Nickel test? is unique to the Birmingham Assay Office and extensive research has been carried out comparing EN 1811 to the new test.
b) This test is unique and therefore the method will remain confidential for a period of two years. It will take time to become internationally recognised. Currently, the only legally recognised tests for the UK and the EU are EN 1811 and EN 12472. Although the new ?Quick Nickel test? can be used as part of your due diligence, you may still wish to test some high risk items to EN 1811 / EN 12472.

7. How many samples should I send for testing?
a) If possible submit two samples; just in case on the rare occasion an item needs to be resubmitted for the EN 1811 / EN 12472 test/s.

8. If the method is confidential, how does one go about determining whether or not it can be used as part of ?due diligence? for nickel free testing?
a) The detailed step by step instructions to carrying out this test remains the intellectual property of the Birmingham Assay Office and is confidential. However, we are happy to share the principles of the method with our Customers.

9. If it is not a legally recognised test in the U.K. and the rest of the E.U., on what basis can we, for example, approve this test? Specifically, since the language of the report does not clearly state compliance and rather states just ?PASS? with the likelihood of being less than the maximum requirement of the European Union.
a) The report for the Quick Nickel test does not use the term ?Compliant?, as it is not the specifically legally required test (EN1811) to demonstrate compliance. However, the Birmingham Assay Office has sufficient research data to substantiate the accuracy levels of the new Quick Nickel test compared to EN1811, and we are confident in recommending this test as part of a ?due diligence? programme.

10. Have Trading Standards approved the Quick Nickel Test.
a) The Quick Nickel Test has gained recognition from Birmingham Trading Standards. The Acting Head of Trading Standards & Licensing for Birmingham, Mr. Chris Neville, has acknowledged the benefits of the Quick Nickel test for both consumers and the trade. Following his visit to The Birmingham Assay Office Mr. Neville quoted ?The amount of research undertaken to develop the Quick Nickel test is very Impressive. I want Birmingham Trading standards to work with The Birmingham Assay Office in order that the Quick Nickel test can achieve recognition as a legally acceptable form of due diligence for the whole jewellery trade?.
b) Many other local authorities are testing articles by the Quick Nickel test when checking that importers, suppliers, manufactures and retailers are complying with the with the nickel directive.

11. In your professional opinion, if we use your test method on an item that was not one of those that we also did an occasional test of EN 1811 and the authorities in the E.U. found this item in the market to be non-compliant, do we have a legal right to stand on to say that we did proper ?due diligence? even though this is not a legally recognised test?
a) Yes, the new Quick Nickel test has scientifically proven data to back up the accuracy levels compared to EN 1811 and thus, can be used as part of your ?due diligence?.