Pros and Cons to Different Kinds of Jewelry
by K. A. Kristmanson
While last week’s blog identified the technical aspects of body jewelry, there are many kinds that can be worn once the piercing is fully healed. There are upsides and downsides to each material, but they all offer unique substitutes for 316LVM surgical steel.
As mentioned last week, Titanium is an acceptable substitute for 316LVM surgical steel. The pros are that it is not magnetic, and therefore great for surface and dermal piercings, because no removal is necessary for MRI’s or surgical procedures. The only con for titanium is the price tag. Occasionally, suppliers will mark up the price of titanium jewelry, forcing the shops to do the same. When it comes to dermals, it’s the best choice, despite the inflated price. For normal jewelry, however, it’s not necessary.
Also discussed last week, Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or Teflon is a non-metallic substitute for body piercings. There are various pros, some circumstantial. Teflon is great for pregnant women with navel piercings, to avoid removal of the jewelry entirely. It is also great for piercings with a high-risk of rejection or migration, because PTFE is much more flexible than metal. Aside from those specific situations, the non-stick property of the material reduces lymph build up, and therefore reduces the likelihood of rejection for any piercing. It is also hypoallergenic, and is a perfect option for clients with metal sensitivity.
When it comes to gold, higher quality is more easily accepted by the body. The con here is that it can get exorbitantly expensive as the grade goes higher. There is a cheaper option, but it comes with the sacrifice of quality. Gold-plated jewelry is much more likely to irritate the piercing, and not worth buying if you have any sensitivities or allergies to metal. However, if your piercing is healed, and your body has no issue with metallic substances, you can achieve the aesthetic of gold with plated jewelry without paying out the nose.
Niobium is a metal that is softer, but heavier than titanium, but with the same outward appearance. Like other high-grade metals, niobium does not degrade from contact with body fluids, oxygen, or cleaning agents. The weight of this jewelry can be used to stretch ear piercings. The client can use “hangers” to pull the lobe downward, creating a slow stretch over time.
Glass is not safe to use during a piercing procedure, but it is a popular option for plugs and stretchers. It is comfortable and tough, and allows for another non-metallic substitute for clients with metal allergies. Glass body jewelry is usually handcrafted, and therefore can cost anywhere from $50 – $200 for a pair of plugs. As a pro, being handcrafted also means more unique designs. Glass can be frosted and blown into endless patterns and colours.
Amber has interesting pros, but a few cons as well. One of the greatest cons is for more northern environments, because amber retains heat. The jewelry can also have plants and insects encased inside, creating a very interesting and original expression of style. (Jurassic Park anyone?). Unfortunately, amber is also porous, and can lead to irritation if improperly polished, so ensure that the jewelry is high-quality before purchase.
Wood & Bone
Let me start off by saying that both wood and bone are very porous. They absorb body fluids like nobody’s business and can lead to strong, unpleasant odours, along with irritation. However, they are also natural, and the porous surface allows for the body to breathe. Aside from that, they also stay warmer in cold climates than metals do.
The greatest thing about stone plugs is their versatility. These can be made of jade, agate, lapis, jasper, quartz, moonstone, obsidian, tiger’s eye, amethyst, marble… you name it, if it’s stone, they probably sell it. The downside is that its heavy. So unless you’re trying to weigh down your earlobes in order to stretch them, I wouldn’t recommend wearing stone for long periods of time.
While silicone is inexpensive, it is also cheap. The many cons of silicone mostly have to do with its porosity. Like wood and bone, wearing silicone usually leads to disagreeable smells caused by a buildup of fluids. Even after healing, this material can cause irritation, and does not possess the natural characteristic of other porous materials. Unless you’re desperate for something short-term with a small price tag, I’d recommend avoiding silicone entirely.
And that’s all she wrote!
Did I miss anything? Leave a comment below if there’s another kind of material you like to wear in your healed piercings.