MATERIALS AND WHY THEY MATTER.
The three materials most commonly used in body jewellery are ASTM F-136 Titanium, Niobium, and ASTM F-138 Stainless Steel.
You may have heard these terms whilst trying to shop for jewellery and never quite known what you were buying. So many different materials are used for jewellery, it's difficult to keep track of what is, and what isn't appropriate for piercings - especially fresh ones.
What does ASTM mean?
A-S-T-M stands for American Society For Testing and Materials. To be classed as an implant grade material, (safe for piercing) the criteria is set by being able to certify what elements are present (or not) in your jewellery. This must be met for jewellery to be considered bio-compatible.
Unfortunately, the market for body jewellery is hugely over saturated with mass produced mystery metals, and causes many issues for the health of your piercing. So, what materials are safe, and what should I avoid?
ASTM F-136 Titanium
There are several grades of Titanium, so you will often see it available from many sources - (however, this does not always make it inherently good quality) - you still must bare in mind the polish, any scratches or uneven surfaces are likely to harbour bacteria and cause internal damage to your piercing. It's always better to pop into your local piercing studio and have your piercer show you rather than buying online.
Due to its nickel free content, it is rare for titanium to cause an allergic reaction. It his highly resistant to corrosion meaning it is unlikely to react with bodily fluids. Titanium is also lightweight, so it's a good choice when looking to wear larger sizes of jewellery (i.e, titanium ear tunnels, a stretched septum, Prince Albert piercings)
Titanium can also be anodised in a variety of fun colours, meaning you can ditch cheaply plated jewellery!
Anodising is a passivisation process that thickens the layer of the oxide on the surface of the jewellery. On a microscopic level, this changes the texture of your jewellery and thus the way it reflects light. This also offers further protection against corrosion! Some of the beautiful colours we can anodise your jewellery include; high polish, blue, ice blue, blurple, bronze, copper, rose gold, yellow gold, purple, fuchsia.. OR a combination of the above!
Unfortunately, stainless steel is the most commonly used body jewellery, and with this, many allergic reactions are caused. It is rarely due to the stainless steel itself, but from other factors - commonly irritation through harsh cleaning product or mechanical movement. However, if you have a nickel allergy, stainless steel may not be the jewellery type for you.
The polish of steel can make all the difference, however. If steel is polished to a mirror finish, a protective layer of chromium oxide helps trap the nickel content inside. There are many alloys used in stainless steel, and most of them have not been proven to be bio-compatible. Steel that is ASTM F-138 is bio-compatible, and therefore is safe for implant.