High quality jewellery is integral to the overall, long-term health of your piercing. As much as we love to show the stunning end pieces of jewellery that we get to use at Rogue, the most important part of body jewellery is the quality of the labret post or barbell that you’re using. That’s the piece that goes into your body and it is paramount that your piercer considers the metal, the polish, the length, the gauge and so many other factors to ensure that your piercing is safe.
At Rogue, we use NeoMetal titanium labrets and barbells for all of our threadless body jewellery pieces. NeoMetal has been trading since the early days of body piercing, creating jewellery for Jim Ward at The Gauntlet back in the 1990s. In 1997 the patented threadless jewellery. Innovators from the very beginning, NeoMetal have partnered with both the Body Art Alliance and Association of Professional Piercers, to continue to expand their range of jewellery and make it more accessible for the worldwide industry.
Gemma: NeoMetal revolutionised modern body piercing, how do you keep up with changing needs and standards in the industry?
Lindsey: When we started producing threadless jewellery, it was in partnership with a family owned business that was already ISO compliant. It was already manufacturing medical and dental implant grade titanium pieces, so we’ve been ISO compliant from the beginning. Being the small manufacturer that we were in the early days, we spent a lot of time working really closely with the APP and influential piercers like Brian Skellie, and the the original customers to find out what they want and what the industry needed. And then for the 20 years after that, we had what we call a “good problem” of trying to keep up with the demand for the product. The industry kind of grew and changed around NeoMetal. We started offering different colour gems with different size, different posts and have worked with piercers to guide what new products are needed and what’s trending.
But of course, at the forefront is always the quality and safety. And when we talk about safety, we talk about it in terms of our employees who are working on the machines, the ones who are putting the jewellery together, manufacturing the jewellery. All of that is super important, as well as the safety of the piercers who work with the jewellery and the final wearers of the jewellery. Safety has always been at the forefront of everything we do. We stay ISO compliant and we’re now ISO 9001 certified. We have a team who manages the safety of the employees working with dangerous machines in the manufacturing warehouse, where even a small mistake can can mean someone gets really hurt. Everything we do is about doing it safely.
G: How did you get started at NeoMetal?
L: I’ve worked for NeoMetal for a little over a year and a half. I was in a very toxic and unhealthy work situation prior. And I just decided one day, I absolutely can’t do this anymore. So I applied for four jobs. One of them happened to be NeoMetal. I had always been interested in body modification, I got my first tattoo when I was too young to have a tattoo. But I always had jobs where I couldn’t have any modifications on display so I had to strategically place them on my body and keep things hidden
So I was naturally drawn to that alternative world. And it’s really been John Kittell from NeoMetal that’s taken me under his wing, almost like an apprentice. He has he has taught me so much about the jewellery and about how and why we do certain things and don’t do certain things. I’ve learned so much from him in just the short time I’ve been there and I’m so thankful for the time and knowledge that he’s spent and shared with me. It’s been truly amazing.
G: That’s awesome, it’s really important to work with people that you like working with.
L: I love working with people who are so passionate about the jewellery and about making sure it’s perfect. I was recently in California at the manufacturing facility and I got to see their quality control stations. It’s amazing seeing people look at these little, tiny pieces, looking for little imperfections or inconsistencies to make sure and it’s completely safe to use and wear. It’s amazing. They’re making sure there’s no imperfections to the jewellery, no matter how tiny they are, because the amount of bacteria that can be harboured in that tiny imperfection, it is significant.
G: You’ve recently released an 18ct gold range, is this the first time NeoMetal have produced gold?
L: We’ve had a 14 carat line for a while. But with the APP developing their overall standards and their standards for gold, we thought it was an important time to move to 18 carat. It’s in high demand right now. I only wear gold jewellery, I love gold jewellery, I just like how it looks. It’s really on trend right now. And so it’s important for us to stay relevant in that way.
We are definitely working on expanding our gold offering. It’s also really important for us to maintain the NeoMetal brand. There’s a lot of gold manufacturers on the market and they make amazing jewellery and we’re finding a balance of making amazing jewellery but that is still true to NeoMetal in design. We’ve also just launched the semi-precious stone range and that’s also part of our commitment to be bring more trend focused jewellery to the market and just expand what we have available.
G: I really love your new 14ct gold Halloween collection, what’s the process behind creating a body jewellery collection?
L: It’s a bit of a roundtable. We have new project initiatives and I’m involved from the sales side of the team, our marketing team is involved, John is of course involved. And then our operations team is involved because of course, we’ll get these grandiose ideas and then they’ll be like, whoa, whoa, whoa, we can’t physically do that. So it’s really a group effort and to be perfectly honest, especially with like something like Halloween, it starts with John and a post-it and pencil sketch. It’s thinking of designs that people will like, but also designs that are still NeoMetal. Like the pumpkin spice latte end. We’re kind of like the dork of that industry and it’s embracing that, you know?
We rely a lot on what on what you guys tell us you need and that sometimes comes in the form of less eccentric ends but more necessary products. For example, the length extensions of our labret posts and offering them with different size backs. That aspect of it is equally as important. Is creating longer posts super fun? No, but it is perhaps even more important because it’s something that will be used all the time. It’s integral.
G: No point having a big elaborate end like the D20 without having the right post and base size to support the jewellery.
L: Yes, exactly. So for the fun, limited collections, a lot of those are just brainstorming sessions with all of us as a group and we all decide and then prototypes get made, we look at the prototypes and we say, “okay, this one looks better than this, this will fit better than this.” And we go through that process. We have Steve Joyner on our team and he lends a lot of real experience. He really brings the piercer voice to the table.
G: We loved the collections for the National Centre for Transgender Equality. Does NeoMetal work with a lot of different charities?
L: We’ve done charity work for Ukraine and the devastation there, and for Hurricane Ian and those impacted in Florida. The pride collection in particular was so important to us, and very important to many people on our team. Because of the history of the community in piercing, it was especially important for us that we did it, and we did it right. And that we picked a charity that we felt was honourable.
We made sure that our entire team felt comfortable with the charity that we picked, and that we all felt comfortable with the range that we were offering. We had a lot of meetings about that to make sure that we were as inclusive as possible. It was really a lot of collaboration, a lot of hard work from a lot of people on our team and it came out beautifully. It was a really, really special collection to work on.
G: Tell us about NeoMetal Europe, how’s that going?
L: It’s still very new , but the important thing is making our jewellery accessible. That’s one thing that was ingrained into me when I first started – It doesn’t matter how big the studio is, how many piercers they have, if this is their first time ever buying high quality jewellery – NeoMetal needs to be available to them. The first step is getting it available outside of the US in a way that is easy. Unfortunately, that’s not a big help to those of you in the UK just now.
G: Oh! No worries, that’s absolutely not your fault *cries in Brexit*
L: Getting into Europe and making jewellery accessible is step one. With smaller studios who want to use NeoMetal, when you start talking about things like international shipping and import fees, it really does make high quality jewellery, not easily accessible. We want to continue to grow and make our jewellery available to more people. I’m excited to see what impact it will have on the larger industry. This is just the start and I can’t wait to see how it grows. And the the guys we’re working with over there, Andre and Bruno and Simon and David are just amazing. They are all pillars of the piercing community and in their respective communities.
G: Have you seen any differences in the US, UK and Europe markets?
L: A lot of the trends are pretty consistent. Initial piercings in the EU tend to be more 16 gauge and in the US it’s almost always 18 gauge. Which is interesting. And the strange thing is, with nipple jewellery, it’s a bit of the reverse. The smaller gauge barbells and the smaller ends are used in in Europe where 14g is a lot more popular. Whereas here in the States, it’s 12 gauge.