As a preface, I’d like to state that one of the things I have always striven for is providing the highest quality and safest piercing and/or modification experience at the best value for money and price I can possibly offer. Please be cautious of compromising quality for a lower price. This is your body and piercing is a cosmetic implant that should not be taken lightly. Not all piercers are the same, and not all body jewellery is made equally…always research your piercer to see if they are right for you.
I posted a bit ago about the dangers of cheap jewellery and have had a few questions from clients asking about titanium that they have purchased from various places online. All titanium jewellery is not the same. Titanium, like many metals, comes in different grades with varying level of purity and quality. Implant-grade titanium (which is the material all my jewellery is made of) is the most appropriate material available for surgical implants and can help piercings heal more quickly compared with other metals such as steel and lower grades of titanium. The composition of the titanium alloy used in ASTM F136 is tightly bound so that it cannot break down under the skin and release metal particles inside the body.
Although other grades of titanium, such as grade 23, do adhere to the EU Nickel Directive they are not as biocompatible as ASTM F136 titanium and are not designed for long-term wear under the skin. The use of ASTM F136 titanium ensures the greatest possible chance that a piercing will heal properly.
As I mentioned in a previous post, in addition to differences in metal composition, badly polished cheaper titanium has a nearly undetectable rough surface texture and is severely problematic. It can cause irritation, micro-tearing in the piercing itself, and allergic reactions as it is generally not implant grade. Is that neat looking piece of jewellery titanium? Sure. Is is a quality piece of jewellery? Perhaps not. Always ask if an XRF certificate is available. This test shows the composition of the metal and if the jewellery seller cannot provide it, the quality may be questionable.
What about gold?
Gold, regardless of the karat, is not recommended for initial piercings because gold is an alloy, made up of not only pure karat gold but base metals as well. The fluids secreted by a healing piercing cause corrosion of the base metals in the gold. Once a piercing is fully healed, gold can be worn (9 karat gold is recommended), although it is best that the jewellery is worn for limited periods of time as it will tarnish and discolour when in contact with bodily fluids.
Surely Silver is Alright!?
Actually, it’s not! Silver should not be used for body piercing jewellery but is totally safe to be worn on the body as necklaces, bracelets, and rings. The reason silver is not suitable for body jewellery is that it corrodes when it comes in contact with sulphur, which is a substance your body contains. This contact forms a toxic substance: Silver Salt. This is why silver must be kept clean and polished regularly to prolong the quality.