Acrylic, PMMA, Darkside and White Heat
Blackline Titanium and Mysterium
Bright Gold and Zircon Steel
Sterling Silver 925
Surgical Stainless Steel
Zircon Gold Titanium
9ct Gold (375 gold) is only 37.5% gold and 32.5% impure alloying metal. Due to the unknown alloys, 9ct gold can cause reactions in people with nickel sensitivity. It can be autoclaved at a low temperature, but should not be used for initial or healing piercings.
14ct & 18ct Yellow Gold
14ct Gold is 58% gold and 42% other alloys. 18ct Gold is 75% gold and 25% other alloys. 14ct gold is best suited for jewellery with threads and balls. 18ct is well suited for nose studs, but too soft to use for threaded jewellery. All our gold is biocompatible and made nickel free. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
18ct White Gold
18ct White Gold is found only in our nose studs. It is alloyed without nickel, instead containing palladium, an inert element in the platinum family. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Acrylic / PMMA / Darkside / White Heat
Acrylic is a plastic that is commonly used for body jewellery. It can crack if soaked in disinfectant chemicals or under heat. It is a fragile material when made in smaller gauges. Evidence suggests that long term wear of acrylic can release harmful toxins from the plastic. Acrylic should only be worn temporarily. It cannot be autoclaved, and is not suitable for initial or healing piercings.
Blackline Titanium / Mysterium
Blackline is created with the same process as Black Steel, though the PVD coating formula does differ. The base formula for Blackline has been tested by and independent biological testing laboratory and is certified biocompatible for external and internal medical devices. The PVD coating is applied to G23 Titanium. The coating is extremely resistant to scratches, though can fade or chip over time. This coating is also applied to Mysterium products which are 316L Steel. Mysterium has been discontinued, and replaced by Blackline Steel (though the coating still differs on certain product ranges). It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Black steel is 316L Steel with a Black PVD coating. The coating is extremely resistant to scratches, though can fade or chip over time. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Bioplast is a biocompatible and medical grade flexible plastic. It contains no nickel. It is commonly used to make piercing retainers. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Bright Gold / Zircon Steel
Bright Gold is 316L Steel coated with 24K Gold using a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) process.
The jewellery is coated in a heated chamber under high vacuum pressure. When and electric voltage is applied, a plasma will form in the chamber and the introduction of various gases produce an ion bombardment. This bombardment atomizes the cathode material (24K Gold) into tiny particles which are deposited on the jewellery. The result is a hardened layer, which is smooth and biocompatible. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Glass is a strong material, and biocompatible. It contains no nickel and certain types are extremely sturdy (Pyrex and Quartz glass). It is commonly used for retainers, ear plugs and heavy gauge facial piercings. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Healium is a new product created by Wildcat and is made in Germany. It is an artificial material with antimicrobial properties. The surface has a dense homogeneous finish to minimize irritation. It supports the healing process of new piercings. It comes pre-sterilized using EO Gas Sterilization. It can be used for initial piercings, but cannot be autoclaved.
Medilabs have a unique back plate filled with biocompatible pure white ART-tech. The ART-tech surface is lighter and softer than the titanium or steel and cause less impact trauma when it touches teeth or gums by gently bouncing back, avoiding friction damage. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Niobium is a pure element, not an alloy (not man made). In its natural state, is it completely hypoallergenic. Similar to titanium, it can be anodized to produce different colours. It can also be heat processed to produce a permanent black finish. Niobium is slightly heavier than 316L Steel, and not as strong. It has fallen out of popularity as Titanium prices have decreased. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Organic body jewellery is made from various natural materials such as Horn, Bone, Wood, Stone, and others. Organic body jewellery should not be worn in unhealed tissue. Organic materials are sensitive to changes in heat and humidity. Autoclaving, use in water or extreme heat can cause damage to the jewellery and is not recommended. Organics should be oiled regularly. Organics can absorb oils and sweat from the skin, and therefore reduce odours. It should not be used for initial piercings.
PTFE is also known as Teflon. It is flexible and can be cut to any desired length. It can be sterilized (up to 260 degrees) and does not cause any allergic reactions (nickel free). It has a very smooth ‘non-stick’ surface, and can be worn long term. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Silicone is a soft and flexible material, commonly worn in stretched ears. It has a ‘sticky’ surface and should not be worn in fresh or unhealed piercings. It should not be used for initial piercings.
Sterling Silver 925
Sterling Silver is used in a lot of our fashion navels and nose studs. It is a soft material and can be used for intricate design work. It is high in nickel, and should not be worn by anyone with an allergy. Silver can tarnish when exposed to air or strong chemicals, and when worn in a new piercing, the tarnish can be deposited into the skin causing it to darken or turn grey. It should never be used for initial or unhealed piercings, and it cannot be autoclaved.
Surgical Steel 316L & 316LVM
SS316L and 316LVM are surgical implant grade materials. They are the most commonly used materials for body jewellery. Although these high grades of Steel all contain nickel, they do not release nickel salts into the body and do not induce nickel dermatitis. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Titanium is ideal for both initial body piercing and healed piercings as it is compliant with the EU Nickel Directive introduced in Europe in 2001. Grade Ti6AL-4V Titanium is biocompatible and has been used since the 1950’s for medical implants. It is available in High Polish, which resembles Steel. It can also be anodized into a multitude of colours. Titanium is only half the weight of Steel, and twice as strong.
Grade 23 Titanium has been given an ‘F’ prefix by the ASTM (F-136), signifying its status as an approved medical grade material. No higher qualification exists. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Zircon Gold Titanium
Zircon Gold is G23 Titanium coated with Zirconium nitride, and has been tested and certified as biocompatible for external and internal medical devices. No gold or palladium is added to the formula. The coating is extremely resistant to scratches, though can fade or chip over time. It can be autoclaved and used for initial piercings.
Anodizing can be performed on Titanium, Niobium and Steel coated in Titanium.
Anodizing is a process where a coating is built up on the surface of the metal by using heat, chemicals or electricity. The most common method to form an oxide layer on the surface is with the use of electricity.
The way this is done is with a variable power supply in which an electrode is connected to the positive side (anode), and one to the negative side (cathode). Both are then submerged into a mildly conductive solution, thus completing the electrical circuit. The piece that is to be anodized is connected to the positive side, and that is why the process is called ‘anodizing’.
Anodizing does not involve any dyes or paints. The colour on the surface is apparent because light reflects through the created oxide to create a colour. The colour that is apparent on an anodized piece of titanium depends on the thickness of the oxide layer that has been applied to it. The thickness of the oxide layer that is formed during the anodizing process depends on the voltage of electricity that has been applied to it. To maintain colour consistency between multiple pieces of jewellery, it is best to anodize them at the same time. Thicker and/or larger pieces may take longer to anodize and may need a higher voltage to achieve a similar colour to smaller and thinner pierces.
Anodizing doesn’t only add colour to the surface of the jewellery. It also produces a more smooth, durable and biocompatible surface by removing microscopic debris embedded in the surface.
The anodized surface can fade over time, especially when used in oral piercings. The good news is that it can be re-anodized to bring the colour back, or even to change to colour.
Annealing is a heating and cooling process that improves the properties of a material. In the case of body jewellery metals, it helps to make the jewellery pliable enough to bend fairly easily. The material is heated to specific temperatures and cooled at particular intervals. Our continuous rings (ACR’s) have been annealed.
Since its introduction to the medical industry in the late 1980’s Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) has become widely used to deposit wear resistant, thin film coatings onto medical devices (including heart pacemakers, surgical instruments and orthopaedic implants). The main value in PVD technology rests in the ability to modify the surface properties of a device without changing the underlying materials properties and biomechanical functionality.
This surface coating is tremendously adhesive to the underlying material, is conformal and pinhole free, is an excellent permeation barrier and is sterile on preparation.
Blackline Titanium and Black Steel is achieved using Titanium Aluminum Nitrade (TiAIN) and is deposited on the jewellery by vaporising the titanium compound using a high voltage current in a high heat, high pressure kiln. Zircon Steel and Zircon Titanium is achieved using the same process with Zirconium Nitride. Bright Gold, once again uses the same procedure, but this time with 24K Gold.
Finishing and Polishing
To be safe for healing, metal body jewellery should have a mirror finish- a high shine, super smooth surface. This removes microscopic surfaces, allowing better healing for the piercing. When jewellery has an uneven surface, the news cells that are formed during healing grow into the irregularities. Then, when the jewellery moves or shifts, these areas tear. As this cycle is repeated, scar tissue is formed, and healing is delayed. A faulty finish can also introduce bacteria into the wound and cause infections.
After initial manufacturing, the body jewellery will be mechanically polished. This usually involves a tumbling machine, polishing media and liquid. The jewellery is place in a barrel that is spun at high speed for a long period of time.
Harder materials, such as titanium, need slightly different methods. While tumble polishing may still be utilized, it is usually in combination with a corrosive chemical treatment. Tumbling removes larger burr and tool marks, while the chemical treatment smooths the surface on a much smaller scale.
Electrolytic Polishing is another method which can remove unwanted materials from the surface of titanium and leave a fine, polished finish. The process works by placing the jewellery in and electrolyte bath, which can include perchloric acid, methanol and butanol, and then sending a specified voltage through it. The result is a faster, reliable polishing process.
Most mass manufacturers stop at this point. For added quality, and a better final product, body jewellery will then be hand polished.
Hand polishing is done one piece at a time, and can be a very time consuming process. One method is to use a polishing wheel rotating at high speeds. A polishing compound is added, and the jewellery is manually held and rotated against the wheel to polish the entire surface. When complete, the jewellery is inspected, cleaned of any polishing compound residue and cleaned with an ammonia based solution. Cream metal polish is applied, and the jewellery is hand polished with a soft cloth. Finally, the jewellery is then cleaned again in a weak acidic solution (such as vinegar) and lightly oiled to maintain the shine.