If you are wondering what type of metal material you should get for your piercings, here is a few facts about each type of material.


Surgical steel, also referred to as Implant grade steel is a steel alloy that is the most common body piercing material in the United Staes. It can be polished to a shiny surface, and many people prefer this material 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). One disadvantage of steel is its weight. For larger pieces of Jewelry this can be a problem as it can cause tension in the body tissue, and also unwanted stretching or tearing of a piercing. In areas with low blood circulation such as the earlobe, this can be potentially dangerous. However, with smaller jewelry, there is no need to worry.



Titanium body jewelry is often manufactured in either commercially pure grades 1 to 5 or grade 23 Ti6AL4V ELI alloy. The only quality recommended for use by the Association of Professional Piercers is Titanium that is certified to meet ASTM or ISO standards for surgical implant applications. “Look for implant certified titanium (Ti6Al4V ELI) that is ASTM F136 compliant or ISO 5832-3 compliant, or commercially pure titanium that is ASTM F-67 compliant.” Because of its virtually ‘Nickel Free’ content Titanium has become one of the preferred materials used in piercing jewelry within the borders of the EU. Titanium jewelry 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.



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. The purity of silver is measured in hundreds. The numbers stapled on silver jewelry is what indicates this. For example, 925 means 92.5% silver, and 7.5% other metals, often nickel.



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. Gold is about as soft as lead and is easily scratched. These scratches can irritate the body, especially in new piercings. Tongue jewelry made from gold is not recommended as chewing on the beads is common. To avoid the irritation of damaged jewelry from such scratches and flaws, gold colored titanium jewelry is a safer substitute. Piercing jewelry is often made of a gold alloy, the most common being 18k, with 24k being entirely pure and much softer. 18k gold usually contains 75% gold and the remaining 25% copper, silver and traces of other metals. In lower quality gold, zinc, nickel and other irritants can also be found. As said, gold jewelry should never be used in healing piercings as body fluids tends to discolor the base metals in the alloy and cause them to tarnish. 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 tarnish and cause greenish discoloring of the tissue. Experienced body piercing studios clean the jewelry with a jewelry steamer, and then an ultrasonic process with warm alkaline detergent, followed by a distilled or deionized water rinse, then an alcohol rinse to help remove residues.