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High Quality? Part 10 – Aftercare

How you care for your piercing as it is healing it just as important as getting the piercing done well in the first place. A good aftercare regime will keep your piercing clean and healthy and set it up to last a lifetime. Head to our aftercare page for advice on how to care for a fresh piercing. There are a lot of urban myths and legends about the best way to care for a piercing and sadly most of them actually damage the piercing. This weeks blog is here to help clear away the bad information and give you good information.

Aftercare information is taken from the medical worlds studies into Wound Healing Dynamics. This means looking at the way that wounds heal and what we can do to help the process. Modern medicine has learnt that there is very little we can do to speed up the healing process so now we aim to just not slow down the process. The body is a magical thing that can repair itself so now we focus on letting the body do just that.

Sterile Saline Solution

Stericlens Sterile Saline Solution
Stericlens Sterile Saline Solution is a perfect example of a good aftercare product

Saline solution is a form of salt water that is very carefully made under sterile conditions. It contains 0.9% Sodium Chloride (NaCl) and distilled water. There should be nothing else added for wound care. The mixture is important to ensure that the salinity (saltiness) matches that of the human body. If it doesn’t match then the solution will draw moisture in or out of the healing cells through osmosis and this will cause them to slow down growth or even die altogether. Overly salty solutions can also cause ‘salt burn’ where the healthy skin is damaged too.

Contact lens solution is a type of saline solution but it contains other chemicals and preservatives that are designed to extend the life of contact lenses. These chemicals can be bad for an open wound and can cause reactions in some clients. Contact Lens solution is NOT appropriate aftercare for a piercing.

Saline solution that is being placed onto an open wound should be sterilised and be provided in a container that doesn’t contaminate the solution once it has been used once. The main way around this is to use an aerosol can where the saline cannot be accessed. Screw or pump top bottles contaminate the saline as air is pushed into the bottle and there will be bacteria and fungus in the air. Saline is a perfect breeding environment for pathogens so it is imperative to prevent this type of contamination. Aerosol cans keep the saline inside a plastic bag and the air is ‘pumped’ in around this bag.

Table Salt and Rock salt are far from pure salt. They both contain other chemicals from the way they are formed, sourced and refined. These other chemicals are fine for us to consume when they are going into our stomach where strong acids can deal with them but when they enter the body through an open wound there isn’t the protection of our stomach and they can damage our cells. Sodium Chloride (Pure Salt) is made in a lab and this is what it used to make saline wound care.

This video is based more around food but shows some of the chemicals involved in Sea Salt and table Salt

Homemade salt water has been recommended for a long time but the medical world has taught us that this is no longer appropriate. There are several reasons for this:

– The mix cannot be made accurately – incorrect salinity damages healing piercings
– Home made solutions are not sterile – potentially spraying pathogens onto an open wound and causing infection
– Table Salt and Rock Salt are not pure – there are other chemicals such as iodine found within these salts that can cause damage to our cells

Twisting and Removal

Image from Jef Saunders Blog courtesy of Dannielle Greenwood

At Rogue we hear this advice every single day, “So I twist it daily and remove for cleaning”. Please do NOT twist or remove jewellery until it is fully healed. This advice is very old and comes from the days when body jewellery surface finish was rough. The bodies secretion during healing would dry on the jewellery and bind it to the skin. Modern body jewellery is super smooth so that the secretion can’t bind. Twisting jewellery in a fresh piercing will just damage the cells that are healing and lead to scar tissue growth. Removing jewellery when it is healing runs a very high risk that you will not be able to reinsert it.

As well as physical damage caused by moving jewellery during healing, there is also the risk of introducing pathogens into the body from touching. Fingers are dirty and should be kept away from open wounds. The best thing to do is to minimise touching and just clean away any secretion gently using gauze. If you are worried about anything you can always pop back to your piercer and get them to take a look for you.

Gauze Vs. Cotton Buds

Cotton Buds might seem like the perfect tool for the job when it comes to cleaning a piercing but they aren’t as good as they appear. Cotton buds are strands of cotton wrapped around a stick. These strands of cotton can be left behind during cleaning and can irritate a piercing if they get trapped between the jewellery and the body. These strands can also get wrapped around the jewellery and detract from the beauty of a well made piece and the gems set into it.

Dental Floss Picks are perfect for cleaning behind snug fitting flat jewellery

Non-Woven gauze is the recommended product for cleaning away secretion build up on jewellery. Non-woven gauze is made so that it doesn’t leave any fibres behind. Be careful when buying gauze as there is woven gauze too. Woven gauze is made of cotton fibres that are loose and can cause the same problems as using cotton buds. Non-Woven Gauze can be obtained from any pharmacy.

For those tricky spots where you can’t get gauze in to clean then we recommend using unscented dental floss or even better a dental floss pick. These are single use, sterile and can be purchased easily all over the world.

Whichever product is used to remove secretion and debris, just remember to be gentle and try not to disturb the healing piercing.

Antibacterial Products

Antibacterial products are WAY too harsh for a healing piercing. These products are meant to be used to first clean a wound and should not be used daily. If you remember skinning your knee as a child you will remember the sting as you are cleaned up but then afterwards it is recommended to just have good hygiene. When your piercer cleans your skin before your piercing they will use antibacterial products. During aftercare you only need to keep a piercing clean. The body will close the wound using secretion to form a natural plaster and this will keep bacteria out. Using harsh chemicals daily can lead to chemical burns as well as killing the good bacteria found on our skin. The good bacteria will fight bad bacteria to keep us safe so it is important we allow them to do their job.

Tea Tree and Other Oils

Tea tree Oil has been used for skin healing for as long as we have known about tea tree oil. Tea tree has it’s place in the skincare world but it is not recommended for piercing aftercare. Tea tree is an astringent which will remove moisture from a wound. The removal of that moisture will damage healing cells by drying them out.

Oils are not recommended for any wound healing because they will block Oxygen from the wound and create an anaerobic (without Oxygen) environment. This change in environment affects how the bodies bacteria operate and how the bodies cells form. It is recommended to keep piercings dry (where appropriate) and allow them to breathe for the smoothest healing process.

Conclusion

The simplest advice we can give when it comes to aftercare is to follow the golden rules:

  1. Keep it clean
  2. Keep it dry (where appropriate)
  3. Don’t touch it

If you follow this the rest will fall into place. If you have any problems along the way then tell your piercer. The sooner you get in touch with your piercer the better. Don’t let small problems turn into big problems.

Next week’s blog will be all about rings and bars, when to use them and when not to use them. Have a good week everyone!

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High Quality? Part 9 – Needles

Needles can be a reason to not get that beautiful piercing for some people. Today’s blog will aim to put your mind at rest by making you more familiar with the needles used in the body piercing world . There are 2 main categories to piercing needle; Cannulas and Blades. Just like jewellery, all needles are not made equal. Quality needles will make a piercing a more comfortable experience.

Cannula

Cannula needles are also known as catheter needles and are taken from the medical world. These are the most common type of needle found across the UK and Europe. Cannula needles arrive pre-sterile from the manufacture so they don’t need to be sterilised in-house by your piercer.

This type of needle has extra parts unnecessary for piercing as they aren’t being used for their intended use. Anyone who has spent some time in hospital will recognise that these types of needles are the ones used for IV drips and for catheters. They feature the metal needle, a plastic sheath and a hub. The hub isn’t used for piercing as it is where a syringe or drip would be attached. Some piercers will use sterile scissors to cut the hub off to make jewellery insertion easier.

A Braun Introcan cannula needle

There is less likelihood of “losing connection” when using cannula. When piercing with cannula the metal needle is removed after piercing and the plastic sheathe is left in place, this means that there is less chance the sheathe and jewellery will come seperate before the jewellery is fully in.

As cannula needles were not designed for piercing they can be large and cumbersome to work due to the length of the needle and hub. Technical ear projects are not always suited to cannula needles. The tip of a cannula needle also has a design which can be seen as less than ideal for body piercing as they are designed to make temporary holes that the body can heal closed rather than a permanent channel that stays open.

Cannula needles are designed so that a medical practitioner can insert them without having to wear gloves. They sometimes come with handles so that the part entering the body never gets touched (aseptic technique). This can be useful for piercing in studios where sterile gloves aren’t worn (At Rogue we use sterile gloves for every piercing, but more on that in the future) but as the jewellery needs to be handles too sterile gloves are recommended.

The main downside to cannula needles is that due to the sheathe, they tend to make an oversized hole e.g. jewellery is 1.2mm diameter and a cannula makes a 1.3mm hole. This leads to excess bleeding during the piercing procedure.

Braun Introcan and Trust Mosquitos would be a quality cannula needle brands to look out for.

Pros: Pre-sterile, simpler jewellery connection, built in aseptic design

Cons: Make an oversized hole which causes excess bleeding, can be too long for working on intricate parts of the body, not legal to use for piercing in some countries, can’t be curved for freehand techniques#

Here is a video provided by Brian Skellie (www.brnskll.com) showing how cannula needles are made

Blade

Blade needles are the original piercing needle and have seen a major comeback in recent years. The name blade comes from the needle looking like a blade when viewed sideways.

A Sharpass blade needle by IS LLC

As blade needles have been made specifically for piercing they are available in a wide variety of thicknesses and lengths. This means that the perfect needle can be selected for each piercing rather than making do with whatever size is close enough. Choosing a needle the same thickness as the jewellery reduces bleeding during a piercing and it is quite common to have no bleeding at all!

As blade needles don’t have a plastic sheath, individual packaging or a hub the plastic waste generated by them is much less. We gotta look after this little planet of ours! Added bonus of no sheathe is that blade needles can be curved to allow for more comfortable jewellery transfers and to pierce more fiddly areas of the body as well as the piercing being more comfortable as the piercing hole isn’t being stretched to fit the sheath in as well as the needle.

Just like everything else in the world there are good and bad blade needles. Ask your piercer which brand of needle they are using and keep an ear out for Industrial Strength aka sharpass needles, Katana, Kiwami and That’s The Point.

Blade needles have a different tip configuration to cannula. This configuration is called a tri-bevel needle as there are 3 cutting faces. Tri-bevel needles allow piercers to use bevel theory which again reduces bleeding and makes a piercing more comfortable as there is no pop or crunch.

Pros: More sizes available, hugely reduced bleeding, more comfortable piercing

Cons: Inexperienced practitioners can lose jewellery transfer

No matter which type of needle is used it should be clean, sterile, used for 1 piercing and then disposed of safely.

Next week we’re getting stuck into aftercare!

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High Quality? Part 8 – Anodising

Anodised Rings

WARNING: Anodising mixes electricity and water and can be dangerous! Do NOT try this at home! Leave this to the professionals where we can put safety precautions in place.

Anodising is a process using electricity to change to colour of metals in the reactive metals family. These include Titanium and Niobium which are two of the main materials used in body jewellery today. This article is going to get sciencey but bear with us and we’ll help you understand.

Anodes, Cathodes, What!?

Anodising circuit diagram
Anodising circuit diagram

For anodising to work it requires a DC power supply (think batteries, toy train sets, NOT wall socket power), an electrolyte bath (distilled water with epsom salt) and for the whole process to be free of ferrous metals (Iron based metal e.g. steel). Those of you who remember physics at school will remember that for an electric circuit to work the circuit must be closed and complete. Our circuit is completed when jewellery is attached to the Anode (positive, red wire) and submerged in the electrolyte bath. The diagram above shows this:

Once the circuit is complete the reaction will begin and you will see the jewellery change colour! The reason the jewellery changes colour is all down to refraction. Those with their physics hat on will remember that this is how rainbows form. A perfect example of this is the Dark Side of the Moon Album Cover by Pink Floyd.

Anodising - Secret Science Lessons thanks fo Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd subconsciously teaching us Physics

As Titanium and Niobium are reactive metals, they react with the air around us. This forms an Oxide layer on the surface and it is this layer that makes implant grade Titanium and Niobium safe to go inside the body. During the anodising process we are growing this Oxide layer so that it becomes slightly thicker. When light hits this Oxide layer rather than reflect straight off the light rays are slowed down and the visible colour changes. An added bonus of the Oxide layer growth, is that any polishing compound or machining residue is pushed out so the jewellery is cleaner and safer for the body!

Available Colours

Unlike the visible light spectrum, anodising cannot create all the colours of the rainbow. Red, Black and White are unavailable. There is a heat treatment method available for Niobium which can create a very dark grey. This is currently the best option for black jewellery. There are plenty of other vivid colours available that can be combined to to create unique patterns and styles.

Anodising colour chart from Piercers.com
Anodising colour chart from Piercers.com

As well as new jewellery we can also anodise old body jewellery that you already own by creating a disposable setup to prevent your jewellery from becoming contaminated.

Anodising in action at Rogue!

If you’re still feeling confused about anodising then never fear, Rogue is here! Book a Free Consultation to pop in and have a chat with us so we can come up with something as unique as you are!

Next week’s blog will be all about needles! Don’t worry it won’t be scary, but it will leave you feeling more confident about your future piercings. Have a good week!

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High Quality? Part 7 – Gemstones

There is a huge variety of gemstones available in body piercing jewellery today. Whether it is the cheapest, low grade plastic, mid range Swarovski® or high clarity genuine gemstones there is a gem and colour to suit everyone’s tastes and budget. As well as the standard brilliant cut (the traditional shape of a diamond) there are many different cuts that can make a stone seem brighter, duller, more colourful or subtle. The combination of material, cut and setting together can make a big difference on the final look of the jewellery.

Swarovski® (Glass)

Laser Etched Swarovski® Logo on Gem

Swarovski® is a trademark of the Swarovski company based in Austria. Even though their gems are only glass they are made to impeccable standards. Swarovski® guarantee the colour, clarity, size and longevity of their crystals and they are a great alternative to natural gemstones. Sadly buying Swarovski® isn’t as simple as you would hope as there are several factories around the world that create Swarovski® Elements. The elements range are not made to the same high standard as the gems that are produced in the Austrian factory by Swarovski® themselves. Only Austrian made Swarovski® crystals will have the Swarovski® Text or Swan lasered into them. The lasered logo is small but can be seen using a macro lens (ask your piercer to show you). The elements range of gems tend to discolour and sometimes be foil backed so we recommend that they are avoided. A great example of Austrian Swarovski® Crystal Jewellery would be Neometal’s Clear CZ ends like here

Glass gems that aren’t made by Swarovski® are also used in body piercing jewellery and these will have to be judged individually as there is no standard for them.

At Rogue we inspect every piece of piercing jewellery to ensure the gems are high quality and will last a lifetime.

Plastic

An example of plastic gems with foil backing

Plastic gems are the lowest of the low in the body piercing world. They tend to be foil backed and glued into place. As well as their being a toxicity issue with the glue, plastic gems will also discolour over time. The discolouration is a combination of the gems being soft so they can be scratched and dulled, soaps and shampoos getting between the foil and the gem causing discolouration or the glue reacting with hygiene products. Nobody like green gems that should be clear! When you have spent so long making sure the material and polish of your jewellery is correct, it’s important to ensure the gems will last a lifetime too.

At Rogue we don’t offer plastic gemstones as the quality is so poor that customers will repeatedly come back with complaints. Low quality plastic gems tend to be set into low quality piercing jewellery that is unsafe for the body.

Genuine Gemstones

Genuine gemstones have the broadest selection of colour and finish options. Not all gemstones can be set into body piercing jewellery as they have varying hardnesses and some will crack or crumble when attempting to be set, but even when the unsettable stones are taken away there is still a huge range available. We will cover a selection of colours here but for more information we highly recommend taking a look at the gemstones section on the BVLA website here.

Colour Comparisons

The Star of Africa is the world’s largest cut diamond and resides in the crown jewels of Queen Elizabeth II

Diamonds, Topaz, White Sapphire are all examples of clear stones. Each has different optical properties which affects how much sparkle the jewellery gives. Diamonds are famous for their sparkle and when placed next to other clear stones it is obvious why they are so famous. Topaz and White Sapphire can be great options for cheaper genuine gemstones or for where the stone would be created with a matt or sand blasted finish. The price for diamond body jewellery generally isn’t as expensive as you might think and it is worth asking your piercer for a price comparison rather than just aiming for the lower options.

Opacity

Lace Agate with easily identifiable bands

Stones can have various levels of opacity. A completely Opaque will not sparkle but it will have more vivid colours. Mixing stones with different opacities can lead to very unique jewellery. An example of single stones with various opacity levels would be Agates. Agates are a huge range of stones that are formed slowly and have bands of colour through them. The light play on the different bands causes some colours to be brought out and others to be dulled. It is generally better to use more opaque stones for larger pieces of jewellery e.g. ear weights

Clarity

The clarity of a stone is the opposite end to opacity as it is all about how clear a piece of jewellery is. High clarity diamonds will be perfectly clear, lower grades would potentially have tiny flecks inside which cause the stone to reflect and refract less light. For large stones the it is important to get a higher clarity as the imperfections will be able to be seen but for smaller stones it isn’t as important so can be a good way to reduce the cost of a piece of jewellery rather than going to glass or plastic gems.

Inclusions

Rutilated Quartz with visible inclusions in a spherical cut

Inclusions are much larger imperfections that give the stone its character. Rutilated Quartz would be a prime example of this. The strands that run through it are from a titanium ore known as Rutile and it is these strands that are wanted for this stone. Inclusions can come in the form of specks, strands, bands and more. Inclusions can be a great way to add an extra colour to a piece of jewellery without adding extra stones.

Treated Stones

Mystic Topaz has otherworldly colours from radiation treatment

Treated stones are natural gems that have been through a process to change the colour. Some of the colours and finishes that are available can be surreal and very different to natural stones. the main downside to treated stones are that the treatment only affects the surface and so can be worn off over time. Examples of treated stones would be Mystic Topaz and Mercury Mist Topaz which both go through radiation to achieve their finish.

Synthetic Stones

A comparison of natural and synthetic Opal

Synthetic doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality when it comes to body piercing jewellery. The main example of a synthetic stone that is widely used is lab grown opals. Natural Opals cannot survive the sterilisation process of an autoclave as they have a tendency to crack or explode. Synthetic Opals look very similar but as they are made from more stable materials they can be sterilised and have really broadened the range of mid range priced body piercing jewellery. As with glass stones there aren’t any fixed standards for synthetic stones so it is worth checking voer each one carefully. Make to also check you know if the stone is genuine or synthetic before you purchase as a lot of piercers just combine genuine and synthetic into Opal rather than Faux-pal/Synthetic Opal and Genuine Opal.

Cuts

The cut of a stone can really affect the lightplay within the stone, its ability to be set and its longevity. We will list a few of the common gem cuts here but it would take much more than this blog to explain them all. For more info we recommend a look at the BVLA gemstone page here

Various Gem Cuts Shown on the BVLA website

Brilliant/Round

A brilliant or round cut stone is cut to make light reflect and refract inside the lower part of the stone and bounce out of the top where the stone is most commonly viewed. Clear and translucent stones tend to work well with this cut as it makes them sparkle.

Cabochon

Cabochon cuts are normally used on stones that are opaque and with inclusions. The half sphere shape gives the stone maximum visibility for its colour and reflects light from the surface rather than inside the gem. Synthetic Opals are a great example of cabochon jewellery.

Emerald

As well as being a stone, Emerald is also a stone cut. Emerald cuts tend to be larger than round cuts to make the most of the rectangular shape. Much like brilliant cuts these are best used with transparent stones as the cuts cause reflection and refraction inside the stone to give them sparkle.

Pear

Pear cuts work well for most stone types as long as the stone is a larger size. The cut can be used to reflect light from the surface or within the stone. Opaque stones will generally be larger as they don’t have the sparkle that transparent stones have. Pear cuts can be set in many ways so it is worth talking with your piercer about what you want to achieve before selecting a pear cut.

Well after that bumper issue of knowledge we will be back next week with an article all about Anodising. Have a good week everyone!

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High Quality? Part 6 – Initial Vs Healed

Initial Vs healed? The jewellery used for a piercing to heal around needs to be a much higher quality than the jewellery that can be worn in a healed piercing. An initial piercing is an open wound and is a very different environment to a healed piercing. Blood contact and healing cells create a different pH range to healed skin as well as being much easier to become irritated. At Rogue we recommend that a high quality piece of jewellery is worn for both healed and initial piercings so that there isn’t the chance of damaging a piercing at any stage.

Initial

We take the standards and recommendations for initial jewellery from surgical implant specifications e.g. pacemakers. The medical industry has spent vast amounts of money to prove that materials and products are safe to be implanted in the body.

Initial jewellery must be made from implant grade or historically proven safe materials. This leaves us with a few grades of Titanium, Steel, Niobium, Gold and Glass. Some people may be fine with other materials or lower standards but as we want all our customers to be happy at Rogue, this is the range we start with.

A butterfly clasp full of blood and body fluid from an initial piercing – image courtesy of Anna Richardson at Silver Lining Piercing

The surface finish and general design must be free from scratches and dents, sharp faces and places where body fluids and blood could build up. The traditional butterfly back earring is not recommended for initial wear because fluids can build up in the clasp mechanism and when these start to break down it can cause infections.

Any gems that are set into the jewellery should be mechanically set (material holds them in place) rather than using any glues. As well as being a more secure method so that gems will not fall out, this also means there are no glues that anyone could have a reaction too. Glues and solvents are not safe for the body and especially not in an open wound.

The wearable section of the jewellery (the part that sits inside the body) should also be a smooth, uniform profile. There should be no steps or bumps as this could damage the piercing channel during insertion or removal. This is the reason that external threaded jewellery is frowned upon and shouldn’t be used for initial piercing. A t Rogue we don’t offer any externally threaded jewellery, healed of initial.

Initial jewellery should be non-porous so that blood and body fluids can’t soak into the material, break down and cause infections. This is why wood, bone and most organic materials are not used for initial piercing.

Healed

Initial Vs Healed - Neometal Threadless labret Post
A Neometal labret stud has a smooth profile and high polish so as to not irritate the piercing channel and not allow build up of blood or body fluid

Healed jewellery can be made of lower quality material as there should no longer be blood contact but their will still be dead skin cells, sweat and skin oils building up in a piercing channel. Some materials such as woods can absorb the oil and help minimise smell but the best method to minimise smell is to just use regular soap and water and have a good hygiene regimen in the bath or shower. Most jewellery can be left in place during bathing but large gauge jewellery such as stretched lobes is recommended to be removed to clean. Your piercer will tell you if jewellery needs to be removed for cleaning. If they don’t mention removal then it is generally accepted that jewellery should be left in place.

Healed jewellery can have changes in profile and a lower surface finish but at Rogue we recommend sticking to a higher quality to ensure the piercing doesn’t become damaged. Much like smoking, the damage being done inside is slow to happen and may take years to show. If lower quality jewellery is worn then we recommend to at least keep it to short term wear (8 hours) so minimise damage. An example of this would be wearing Brass weights for an evening for a special event and then removing them before bed.

You should now be able to tell if jewellery is suitable for Initial Vs healed, but if you are unsure about any of this then have a chat with your piercer and they will be more than happy to guide you through the vast selection for body jewellery that is available.

Next week’s blog will be all about gemstones! It’s time to get fancy and learn about cuts, grades and colours!

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High Quality? Part 5 – Coatings

Coatings have been a controversial subject in the body piercing industry for a long time. There are two general categories for coatings and they are described by their application method, PVD and Plating.

PVD

PVD stands for Physical Vapour Deposition. This means that a cloud of vapour droplets is created and the jewellery is placed inside so that the droplets build up on the surface. This method can lead to a porous surface that is easily chipped or can absorb body fluids. A chipped coating can create an edge which will irritate a piercing through friction, it will also expose the metal underneath and as the vast majority of PVD coated jewellery is low quality metal this can lead to metal sensitivities.

A PVD coated BCR

The vast majority of PVD coated jewellery manufacturers do not tell us what chemicals are in the coating so it is assumed to be unsafe at it hasn’t been proven safe. The burden of proof falls with manufacturers and historical data isn’t good enough as some coatings can be toxic. PVD is generally used for colours that anodising can’t create (Red, Black and White).

At Rogue we don’t sell PVD coated jewellery as it hasn’t been proven safe but we will endeavour to find jewellery in other materials to match the colours you require.

Plating

Plated finishes are applied to jewellery using electricity through a process known as electroplating. Again knowing the jewellery is plated is only half of the information required as the material coating is just as important. Plated jewellery tends to be of higher quality and made from safer materials but this isn’t always true. A common plating used for lighter and darker finishes is Rhodium. Rhodium falls under the same category of safety as Gold as it has been used in traditional jewellery making for a long time.

A Rhodium coated Azval by BVLA
(keep an eye out for this piece in Aiden’s septum)

Plated coatings can wear down over time but a jeweller will be able to re-apply the coating if required.

At Rogue we sell plated jewellery where we know the metal quality underneath and the coating material and will explain to our customers that over time the plating will wear.

At Rogue we are big fans of solid jewellery that will keep its shine and lustre for a lifetime. We try our best to avoid coatings to protect our customers but are willing to order in plated pieces as long as the client is aware that the coating will need to be re-applied in time.

Next week’s blog will be all about Initial Vs Healed jewellery and the importance of choosing the piece for the moment.

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High Quality? Part 4 – Surface Finish

An often overlooked but vitally important aspect of body jewellery is the surface finish. By surface finish piercers mean how well the jewellery is polished or if there are any coatings. A good surface finish will be smooth, contain no nicks or scratches, have no inclusions and be proven safe. A poor surface finish can irritate the piercing channel and cause a piercing to not heal, grow excess scarring or reject.

Polish

An example of a surface finish graph
An example of a surface finish graph

The polish of a jewellery is how smooth the surface is. The term “Mirror Polish” is used regularly by piercers and jewellery companies but this is only a marketing term and has no real world value. There are several ways to measure the smoothness of a surface but Ra (Average Roughness) and RMS (Root Mean Square) are the most commonly used. Ra gives a very simple view by measuring the difference in peaks and troughs along the surface and creating a straight line whereas RMS looks creates a broader image by also looking at the width of the peaks and troughs.

Thanks to Rob Hill of Prysm, Des Moines we have data about various jewellery companies surface roughness and when cross referenced with historical data during his piercing career he has put forward that a surface finish of 5-7 μm is required for a piercing to heal with and with minimal scarring. If this all sounds too technical for you then there is always the option of looking closely, as a well polished piece will be obvious to spot.

Nicks and Scratches

It might seem obvious but a lot of people look past a simple scratch as being the cause of their irritated piercing. A nick or scratch can harbour bacteria and cause friction or cuts which can lead to irritated and even infected piercings. A damage free surface will be able to move comfortably through a piercing without causing any irritation.

An inclusion in a piece of steel under a microscope

Inclusions

Inclusions come from the manufacture of the jewellery. If machines and tools are used to work on various different materials then they can embed inclusions. An example of an inclusion would be steel lathe tools leaving traces in a titanium labret. The inclusion might be fine for some people but others can have adverse reactions e.g. Nickel sensitivity or the inclusion could cause the jewellery to be faulty e.g. a steel inclusion causing anodising to fail.

The prevention of inclusions is at the manufacturer stage and our favourite companies all work hard to minimise them but lower quality companies may not. As inclusions aren’t always visible to the naked eye it is recommended to have all Titanium jewellery anodised.

Next weeks blog will continue on surface finish but will look at the world of Coated and Plated Jewellery, both good and bad!

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High Quality? Part 3 – Jewellery Styles

No matter what material a piece of body jewellery is made from, it must be designed to be comfortable and safe. Due to the wide variety of piercings available there is a wide variety of jewellery styles available. A piercer will help you choose jewellery that you love as well as choosing the correct style and size for your anatomy. No matter the style, all body jewellery should be free from sharp edges facing the body or on the wearable section and a good surface finish.

Rings

Ball Closure Rings (BCRs or CBRs) are one of the staples of body jewellery. They feature a ball with dimples drilled into the sides and a ring with a gap that snap together to close. Good designs will have the dimple and the ring fit snugly into each other to minimise any build up of dirt or body secretions, the cross section of the ring will be round rather than oval and the gap in the ring will match the size of the ball so the ring doesn’t become distorted. BCR’s will generally rotate to the point where the ball is at its lowest and then stay there, this can help to minimise motion to aid in healing. A big plus of BCRs is that the ball can be replaced by a wide range of clip in attachments.

Segment Rings are similar to BCRs but instead of a ball they have a piece of the ring which snaps into place. The smaller ring segment will have two prongs which snap into drilled holes in the ends of the smaller ring segment. The join between the two parts should be snug and concentric so that when the ring rotates it does not cut or chafe the piercing channel.

BVLA Andromeda Hinged Ring jewellery style
BVLA Andromeda Hinged Ring

Clickers/Hinged Rings are segment rings where one end of the smaller segment has been fixed to the larger segment using a hinge to form a gate. The gate can be straight or curved depending on the design of the jewellery. The connection between the gate and the ring should be snug and tight, with no sharp sections that could cut or irritate. Clickers are normally quite secure but easy to change. They can become distorted from heavy use but they can be reshaped by a piercer.

Seam/Seamless Rings are circular sections of wire where the ends of the ring meet each other. There is debate over whether the ends should be flat and parallel to each other or if they should be shaped into a ball and cup that match each other, either way the ends should meet snugly and with a small amount of pressure to hold them in place. This style can be easily distorted or damaged during insertion or removal and can be difficult to close .

Bars

Neometal Labret Stud jewellery style
Labret Stud

Labret Studs are one of the other staples of the piercing jewellery world. A labret consists of a straight post with a disc on one end that can be fixed or removable, the other end traditionally has a removable plain ball but this can be swapped for a huge range of different ends. Labret studs that are well designed will be internally threaded or threadless, have a disc that’s weight balances well with the chosen end and have connection point(s) that minimise gaps for debris build up. Labret studs are easy to change yourself and the wide variety of ends available make these one of the most popular jewellery types.

Barbells are straight posts that traditionally have balls on each end. They are very similar to labret studs and follow a lot of the same rules and jewellery styles. The main difference is that a barbell will be used in locations where both ends of the jewellery are visible e.g. bridge, nipple etc or where the range of motion is more 3D than 2D so that the edge of the disc doesn’t cut in.

Curved Barbells/Bananas are barbells where the post has been curved. A quality curve will have a radius rather than a bend to prevent pressure or friction being focused on a single point within the piercing channel. A curved barbell can have the same size ends or different sizes, rooks are an example of symmetric ends and navel curves are an example asymmetric ends.

There are a few other components that you may come across within body jewellery styles but these will generally be pieces chosen by the piercer to help complete your piercing, an example of this would be a microdermal base. Just remember that no matter what the style of jewellery is, if it is going in your body it needs to be a quality item that will leave your piercing safe and happy for its lifetime.

Next weeks blog will be all about surface finish! Talking about polish and coatings. Don’t forget to join our mailing list to get our latest blog straight to your inbox.

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High Quality? Part 2d – Materials (Organics)

Organics covers the wonderful world of natural materials. These range across wood, bone, horn, stone and more. Due to this wide range this post will discuss categories rather than individuals. The nature of organics means that none of them are implant safe certified and have various levels of bio compatibility so it is important to understand your body and the quality of the jewellery. The vast majority of these materials are used for large gauge piercings and stretched lobes as most are too brittle or unstable for standard sized piercings.

Wood

Organics - Semecarpus australiensis (Australian Cashew Nut)
Semecarpus australiensis (Australian Cashew Nut) is a toxic wood that can cause skin lesions and nosebleeds

Wood has been used successfully within body jewellery for millennia but is unsuitable for initial piercing due to its porous nature. Some woods can be toxic so it is important to look into the individual type of wood that you want jewellery from for your health. Some clients have found that they became slowly intolerant to a certain type of wood and can no longer wear it so it is also important to check the on going health too. Surface finish will vary wildly depending on manufacturer but it is possible to get a high polish finish on certain types of wood. A whole rainbow of colour options are available with beautiful grain patterns.

At Rogue we only use wooden jewellery for well healed piercings and can order in any size and combination requested

Bone and Horn

Organics - Porosity leads to smelly and irritated piercings
Porosity leads to smelly and irritated piercings

Bone and Horn are generally categorised together as they are both animal products. Much like wood they are porous products so they are used for healed piercings at larger gauge only. The surface finish can also vary like wood and so this must be inspected carefully. The source of these materials is important too as not all horn and bone is from ethical sources.

At Rogue we are happy to order in bone and horn jewellery and will make sure sources are ethical.

Stone

Agate Double Flare Plugs by Diablo Organics
Agate Double Flare Plugs by Diablo Organics

Stones are also available in a rainbow of colours and has been used for both initial and healed piercings historically. As metals developed they became the chosen material for jewellery as it could be worked much finer than stone. Surface finish and type of stone are just as important as with the other organics. Weight is an issue that need to be addressed and managed when choosing large stone jewellery, a regular care routine including naked piercings is normally sufficient. Different types of stone have many different properties so again being aware of sensitivities and sensitisation is important for the on going health of a piercing.

Beware of fake stone jewellery. Dying cheap, unsafe stones is a common practice from low quality manufacturers. Also check that the piece is actually stone as sometimes the names can be confusing, blue goldstone for example is actually glass.

At Rogue we are happy to order stone jewellery made from appropriate types for healed piercings only.

Next weeks blog post we’ll be moving away from materials and moving into the world of jewellery design. Don’t forget to join our mailing list to stay up to date with our blog.

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High Quality? Part 2c – Materials (Plastics)

Plastics are some of the most modern materials used within body piercing but as with all materials there are good and bad options. The main benefits of plastic jewellery are that they are cheap and as they are non-metallic they can go through MRI scanners and X-ray machines without causing issue for the client. The main downsides to plastic are that they can break down and release chemicals during prolonged wear in the body. There is also a double edged of flexibility for plastic jewellery. Flexibility can be good to remove pressure from a piercing channel but flexibility will also stress a piercing channel by moving too much.

PTFE (Polytetrafluroeythlene)

Plastic - PTFE retainers
PTFE retainers

PTFE is a plastic that most people have heard of as it is sold under the brand name Teflon. ASTM F754 covers the standards required for PTFE to be implanted in the body so this is the only grade suitable for piercing. Due to the soft nature of PTFE it isn’t an ideal material for jewellery as it is easily damaged or distorted. Damaged and distorted jewellery can lead to irritated piercings and a place for bacteria to harbor which can lead to infection. PTFE jewellery is recommended for short term wear only e.g. for medical procedures where all metal must be removed and then jewellery is replaced after the procedure.

Acrylic

Acrylic is commonly found in the form of low quality threaded ends and larger gauge lobe plugs. The vast majority of jewellery made from acrylic is low quality and unsafe for the body. Acrylic when warmed to body temperature can release carcinogenic gases which will irritate and potentially destroy a piercing channel. Acrylic also becomes brittle over time so jewellery tends to break easily. Dental acrylic is available but currently none of the body jewellery manufacturers use it so acrylic should be avoided.

BioPlast/BioFlex

Plastics - Acrylic sheet
A selection of acrylic coloured sheets

BioPlast and BioFlex are both brand names for proprietary owned plastic grades. They companies that own the rights state they are bio compatible and implant safe but have yet to release the documentation to back these claims. For these reasons these plastics are not yet deemed safe for the body.

Much like PTFE, BioPlast and BioFlex both break down in the body for prolonged wear and can be very easily damaged. It has been commonly recommended to use BioPlast or BioFlex in oral piercings to minimse dental damage but the risk isn’t negated completely. There are cases of people getting oral damage from dental acrylic brace components so the only way to protect your teeth is to be careful. Anything rubbing on teeth will eventually cause damage. A well positioned and correctly sized piercing is the best defence against dental damage with oral piercings.

Material Notes

Plastics break down in the body
A Titanium and BioPlast labret after being worn in the body for a prolonged period

Even when plastics that meet ISO or ASTM standards are used for body jewellery the surface finish is rarely safe for the body and almost all plastic jewellery is externally threaded. Plastics are considered to be super low quality and worn only as a last resort.

At Rogue we don’t stock plastic jewellery. We recommend using high quality metallic jewellery for everyday wear and to use glass retainers for medical procedures. We can order plastics if required but we don’t recommend them.

Next week we will finish the materials section about quality by covering organics.