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Metals & Colors
1.1 Surgical steel
1.2 Zircon Gold / Zircontwo
3.2 Acrylic, plexiglas
4. Natural Materials
2.1 Crystal Color Chart
2.2 Titanium Color Chart
Surgical steel, also known as 316L and Implant grade steel is a steel alloy that is the most common body piercing material in the United States. It can be polished to a shiny surface, and many people prefer this material to titanium because of its luster.
Allergic reactions, when they occur, are rarely due to the stainless steel but from other factors (most commonly from mechanical irritation or harsh cleaning products). Allergic reactions typically include itching, redness, and swelling, with a discharge of clear fluid that is not lymph. The element in stainless steel that causes allergic reactions in some people is Nickel. Polishing the jewelry to a mirror like luster results in a protective layer of chromium oxide keeping the Nickel content trapped inside.
Titanium body jewelry is often manufactured in either commercially pure grades 1 to 5 or grade 23 Ti6AL4V ELI, also known as Implant Grade Titanium.
The grade considered suitable for piercing jewellery use is a disputed topic however the only Grade recommended for use by the association of professional piercers remains Grade 23 Titanium (ASTM F136).
The alloy has long been used for both piercings and medical implants, but it is difficult to see if long-term allergies and other complications could arise. Titanium, the alloy contains aluminum and vanadium.
When the EU Nickel Directive came into force - high nickel bearing alloys were restricted from use in primary (new) piercings. Because of its virtually 'Nickel Free' content Titanium has become one of the preferred materials used in piercing jewellery within the borders of the EU.
Titanium jewellery is lightweight (around 60% the weight of stainless steel given the same volume), it is highly corrosion resistant and less likely to react with body fluids, is not magnetic, it can be anodized to create a layer of colored oxide on the surface. Common colors are yellow, blue, purple, green, and rainbow.
Titanium can be sterilized in an autoclave.
Blackline was introduced to the medical business in the late 1980s and revolutionized what it was possible to do with materials. It is a technique still used to treat the surface of pacemakers and other medical equipment.
Blackline jewelry is produced by adding a surface layer of black and highly durable titanium film to a titanium core.
The jewelry is resistant to wear and causes little friction to body tissue.
Allergic reactions to blackline are extremely uncommon, which is why it is often used in surgical equipment. Although the surface layer isn't classified as permanent, it is very durable and lasts longer than, for example, anodized titanium.
Blackline is suitable for piercings that are still healing, as it is lightweight, safe and durable. However if used where in contact with hard body parts, such as teeth, the surface layer can be scraped off. It can be autoclaved.
Zircontwo or Zircon Gold was developed as an alternative to gold jewelry. The method of production is similar to that of Blackline, but instead of titanium in the film, a material called zirconium nitride is used. The core of the material is most often a highgrade titanium alloy called Ti6AL4V ELI. Zircontwo, like Blackline, is used in medical equipment.
Zircontwo is better suited to a healing piercing than real gold, since it won't discolor as 18K (75%) gold often does. It is also more lightweight and has a smoother surface so it won't cause as much irritation. It is also cheaper and significantly more durable.
Zircon Gold / Zircontwo can be autoclaved.
Jewelry made out of Silver, a noble metal, has been common for centuries in all forms of jewelry. It has a certain luster and can also be treated to make certain areas black which gives a nice contrast. However, silver is also one of the most common reasons for nickel-allergy.
It should also never be used in new piercings or damaged piercings as blood, sweat and other body fluids as well as cleaning agents can make the silver oxidize which makes the metal black and also releases nickelsalts which can cause severe allergies and also discolor the area around the piercing, a discoloring that will last through life.
Gold is a noble metal. It is a beautiful metal for use in jewelry and has an old tradition.
When using gold for piercings, a lower purity than 14 or 18 carat (58 to 75%) is not recommended. Neither should gold plated jewelry be used and even though the EU allows it, gold should never be used in healing piercings.
Gold is about as soft as lead and is easily scratched. These scratches can irritate the body, especially in new piercings. Tonguebars in gold are not recommended as chewing on the beads is common. This makes the beads full of scratches and flaws. Zircontwo is recommended instead.
For piercing, a gold alloy is used, the most common being 18k, with 24k being entirely pure. 18k gold contains 75% gold and 25% copper and silver. Traces of other metals may also be present. In lower quality gold, zinc and nickel can also be found.
As said, gold jewelry should never be used in healing piercings as body fluids tends to discolor the metal and cause it to "bleed". Allergy to gold is uncommon but it does exist, and then mostly from white gold. In some extreme cases, the copper in the jewelry can "bleed" out and cause greenish discolorings to the tissue.
18k gold can become discolored from autoclaving.
Glass is a common piercing material which has been used for thousands of years. For example, earplugs made of glass have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.
If correctly shaped and manufactured, glass is an excellent material: comfortable to wear, tough, and safe for the body. However, cheaper glass beads that are not covered in a metal shell can easily break into shards. If you drop glass jewelry on the floor, you probably won't be able to use it again. Also if you have a cheap bead in a tongue piercing and accidentally chew on it, it can break into tiny shards and cause lacerations.
It is possible to sterilize glass in a steam-autoclave but the heat may cause cracking in cheaper products.
PTFE or Teflon was invented in 1938 and is used in the medical industry as well as for frying pans.
It is biocompatible, meaning it will not cause allergies. It's a lightweight plastic, it's bendable, autoclaveable, not visible with X-Rays, not magnetic, and very stable. It's well suited for implants and piercings, specially if you want a little elasticity in the jewelry.
It's also a good material to use as retainers, when you need to take out any metal jewelry, like when in surgery or when X-rayed, so that the hole won't shrink.
Acrylic or Plexiglas or any of a variety of names, is a transparent plastic, in piercing mostly used for plugs and tapers.
Due to the material's slipperiness, it is widely used for stretching. Many overenthusiasts have damaged their holes with acrylic tapers.
Jewelry made of acrylic has a tendency to collect body fluids and skin parts in tiny pores. This calls for regular cleaning to avoid bad smell and infections. It's not a good material for damaged or new piercings and neither should it be autoclaved as it can get discolored. It is also a fragile material and can easily shard if dropped.
Plastics have been used for a long time for both implants and piercings. Early piercers often used it as a healing jewelry. After the piercing was done, a product resembling a thick fishing line was inserted in the hole and its end was rivetted together. When the piercing was healed, the plastic was cut and pulled out, and then a real jewelry was inserted. The method is still in use today, but to a much smaller extent. There are many better and safer ways today.
Plastic is a light material, with an amazing resistance to the body's chemical reactions and safe against most
allergies. However, many plastics have tiny pores, which makes it necessary to often take the jewelry out and thoroughly clean it from skinparts and such.
Woods we use are mostly old season pieces rescued from building demolition sites around northern Thailand. Besides being environmentally friendly old season woods have more character and polish to a beautiful satin luster.
The horn we use is from the Asian Water Buffalo [Bubalus bubalis] and only horn from animals which have died from natural causes is ever used.
Swarovski Crystal Chart
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