Glass isn’t a material that you might think of when it comes to body jewellery but for larger gauge piercings, hidden retainers and for customers with sensitivities it is a great material. As with the other materials in this series, not all glass is made equal and only certain types are safe for the body. The grades that are safe are hypoallergenic and because glass is technically a liquid it has the smoothest surface of any body jewellery materials. Surface finish will be discussed in a future post but for now it is important to remember that a smoother surface equals a smoother heal.
All grades of glass for body jewellery must be lead free and are toughened to protect the customer. Glass can break if dropped or hit hard so jewellery is most commonly found in larger gauges.
There are many grades of natural and man made glasses and a whole rainbow of colours and effects can be created. Transparent, Opaque, Metallic, Liquid and many other styles are available.
Fused Quartz is one of the purest forms of glass. It is made from melting silica (sand) at very high temperatures. Other grades of glass commonly add other ingredients to lower the melt temperature but the purity of fused quartz gives it special optical properties that can really make jewellery stand out. Due to the higher temperatures required to work with this material it is more expensive than other safe grades of glass.
There are no implant grades of glass but Fused Quartz has been shown to work well within the body for initial and healed piercings as it is inert.
Borosilicate is a glass that most people will have handled as it is what Pyrex kitchenware is made from. Borosilicate is a mixture of Silica and Boric Oxide. By adding Boric Oxide the mix when melting, the melt temperature of the glass is reduced but the heat resistance and hardened properties stay. The lower melt temperature brings the price of jewellery down.
Laboratory equipment is made from Borosilicate due to it being inert and not effecting test. This same property is what makes it safe for use in the body for initial and healed piercings.
Soda Lime is another glass that most people will have handled as it is the glass that our windows and bottles are made from. Sodium Carbonate (Soda) and Lime (Calcium Oxide) are added to silica to create a glass that is easy to work with as it melts at a lower temperature and flows better.
These properties for ease of use and reduced cost combined with its inert nature make soda-lime a favourite among body jewellery manufacturers and piercers as it is for use in the body for initial and healed piercings.
Obsidian is a natural glass that is formed from volcanoes. When high silica content lava flows and cools rapidly obsidian will be formed. Due to this natural formation other elements can be trapped inside to cause inclusions. Pure Obsidian is black in colour with a shiny finish.
As Obsidian is a natural form or Fused Quartz it is generally inert but inclusions can cause issues in clients with certain sensitivities.
At Rogue we recommend setting Obsidian into a safe metal or for use in healed piercings only.
The vast majority of glasses are safe for use in the body as long as they are lead free (and in some rare cases Uranium free!). Glass body jewellery manufacturers are constantly evolving their materials and designs to produce beautiful and safe jewellery.
As with all materials, ask your piercer what they are using to check it is safe for your body.
Next weeks blog will be all about plastics. The most modern materials in the body jewellery world.