This is the basic finding of my research: Per Swarovski and the rulings of many states, the biggest danger from these beads is choking, not lead content. Here's the boring stuff in teeny-tiny print. Go to the bolded, big stuff at the end--easy and official.
Swarovski: Recently, there has been an increased regulatory focus on potential human exposure to lead from various consumer products, including jewellery. Crystal has unique properties. The crystal manufacturing process creates a matrix which inhibits the mobility of lead. In other words, lead is bound into the structure of the crystal. Because of this structure, lead crystal poses no significant risk of excessive lead exposure to human health via surface contact (hand to mouth), mouthing or even ingestion. Indeed, Swarovski crystals have been tested under a variety of test methods for extractable lead. Test conditions and procedures do vary, but lead levels are well below regulatory limits even when the crystal is tested in an acid solution to maximize the release of lead.
Most authorities considering lead in crystal have concluded that limits on total lead should not apply to crystal. In 2006, for example, the California Attorney General settled a lawsuit brought in the state alleging exposure to lead from jewellery. The court-approved settlement agreement, as well as the later legislatively enacted Californian AB 1681, established limits for lead in metals and several other components, with stricter standards for jewellery intended for children 6 and younger. Significantly, in recognition of the limited risk of availability of lead from crystal, the settlement agreement as well as California AB 1681 allows the continued use of crystal without limitation in jewellery not intended for children. For children 6 or younger, up to 1 gram of crystal may be used in such jewellery. These same standards were adopted in the state of Minnesota. Similar bills are pending in other states, but some states are considering or have adopted new limits on lead that do not include an exemption for crystal.
Therefore, you are in no danger in touching crystals. This is also the reason that there are no specific recommendations about touching or using crystal, however, we do not recommend that crystals are put in the mouth, swallowed, choked on or inhaled under any circumstances, or are used as children’s toys due to the small parts hazard.
There. Perfectly safe. But if you still want to tell your daughters/neices/nephews (hey--it's possible) to NOT TOUCH or you will turn into a *mutant--go ahead. I won't tell.
*No offense meant to mutants.
Now get back to beading!