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High Quality? Part 2b – Materials (Glass)

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.

Gorilla Glass is one of our favourite glass manufacturers at Rogue
A range of Borosilicate Dichroic Glass Plugs by Gorilla Glass

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

Fused Quartz Septum retainer by Glasswear Studios

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

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

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

Natural Obsidian Concave Plugs by Gorilla Glass

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.

Material Notes

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.

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High Quality? Part 2a – Material (Metal)

The material that your jewellery is made from is vitally important for a happy, healthy piercing. Not every material is suitable to be worn in the body. Some materials are fine for fresh piercings and some materials aren’t. Some materials are fine for long term wear and some are short term only. We’ll break down the different materials available and what they are suitable for, but due to the large amount of information here we have broken this section of the High Quality? blog into multiple posts.

Metal – Titanium, Steel, Niobium, Gold, Silver, Brass

Metals offer the widest range of materials within body piercing and is a subject close to our heart as Aiden is a specialist in metal. Not all metal is safe for the body so it is important to wear metal designed for long term wear.

Titanium

Metal - Neometal titanium threadless labret

Titanium is a metallic element from the periodic table. In it’s pure form Titanium is a reactive metal. If exposed to Oxygen (air) then an oxide surface layer will form and it is this layer that makes Titanium jewellery inert and safe for the body.

In body piercing we use implant grades of Titanium that have been designed and tested by metallurgists and has proven to be safe inside the body. Most commonly used implant grades of Titanium are ASTM F-136 and ASTM F-1295. It is important that the materials source can be traced to a UK, EU or US source as other sources have been proven to falsify data and not be following safety protocols. If you would like to know then ask your piercer for a Mill Certificate proving what the metal grade is.

Not all Titanium is implant grade and a lot of industrial Titanium is used by low quality piercers. Grades 5 and 23 are the most common low quality grades used. Industrial grades may be safe for wear but have not been proven to do so as they have been designed for other attributes.

There is a small amount of commercially pure Titanium jewellery available that is used for intricate custom bent jewellery. The grade for come

At Rogue we only work with Implant Grades of Titanium from safe sources.

Steel

Steel is complex alloy with thousands of grades available. Iron and Carbon are the basics of steel but for the variety of stainless steels we use within piercing Chromium and Nickel are common additives. Both Chromium and Nickel are known to be irritants so clients with sensitive skin are recommended to avoid.

Implant grades of Steel are available and many manufacturers use ASTM F-138 but sadly the vast majority use low quality marine grade (316 LVM) rather than implant grade. The polish on implant grade steel is important for ‘locking’ the Nickel inside. Within the European Union body jewellery must pass the Nickel Directive. The Nickel directive is a control on Nickel containing items to protect the general public from Nickel Sensitivities but as this directive was designed for belt buckles and buttons it is a not a strict enough policy for body jewellery and nickel sensitivities are still commonplace.

At Rogue we rarely use steel jewellery but when we do we use implant grade only.

Niobium

Niobium is an element from the reactive metal family (just like Titanium) and also creates an inert oxide layer in the presence of Oxygen. Niobium shows most of the same properties as Titanium except that it is much easier to bend.

Niobium isn’t available in implant grades as it hasn’t had the appropriate testing but as Niobium is inert and has a lower level of sensitization than Steel or Niobium it has been successful in body jewellery. Niobium is available in purity levels as there isn’t an implant grade. 99%, 99.9%, 99.99% and 99.999% are commonly found. 99.9% is the recommended minimum purity for body jewellery use.

At Rogue we use minimum 99.9% pure Niobium.

Gold

Gold has the longest human history of all the metal materials used for body jewellery. Known for its yellow lustre and ability to be made into the most intricate and fine jewellery available, modern gold is also available in Rose, White and Black Gold in varying alloys.

Metal - Body Gems gold and CZ hinged ring

Gold is available in implant grades (Dental Gold) but none of the body jewellery manufacturers use these grades as they are prohibitively expensive. 14 and 18 carat gold have been used successfully in body piercing for millenia. 14 carat is recommended for healed piercings and 18 carat is recommended for initial piercings, this is because 18 carat gold is purer and therefor there is less chance of having a reaction in an open wound. Too high a purity is not recommended because it is so soft that the jewellery would become mishaped through general wear and tear.

At Rogue we use 14 and 18 carat gold in Yellow, Rose and White gold.

Silver

Contrary to popular belief, silver is not recommended for body piercing. This is because Silver reacts with the body and can cause permanent staining to the skin around a piercing. We are used to seeing this reaction on silver in the form of tarnish that we polish off. The pH of our skin and the moisture in a fresh piercing accelerate this reaction so silver shouldn’t be used for initial piercing.

Silver can be worn in healed piercings for short term periods of no more than 8 hours without issue. Some people find that they cannot wear silver at all whereas others are fine. Lobes are the main location where silver is used safely as most lobe jewellery is removed at night to sleep.

At Rogue we rarely use silver outside of lobe jewellery.

Brass

Due to it’s similar colour to Gold but much lower price, Brass body jewellery can be found. Unfortunately Brass is not suitable for initial piercing or for long term wear in healed piercings. Brass is an alloy of Copper and Zinc and both of these metals can cause reactions in the body.

Like Silver, Brass can be worn by some customers for short term periods without issue but some customers cannot wear brass at all. Again lobes are the main location for Brass jewellery as the jewellery is removed at night.

At Rogue we rarely use Brass, but if we do it is for large gauge lobe jewellery.

Material Notes

There are other metals used within body piercing but they are rarities or follow similar rules to the materials above.

Always ask your piercer what material they are using. If it’s going in your body you need to know it’s safe. Our piercer’s will happily tell you all about your jewellery because we believe in safety through quality.

Next weeks blog post will be all about Glass! Sign up to our mailing list to be notified when a new blog goes up!

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High Quality? Part 1 – Connection

For jewellery styles that are made from more than 1 piece there has to be a form of connection to hold the parts together. There are different types of connection for ring and bar style jewellery and some quality levels are more obvious than others. In this post we will explain the different connection types and how to spot high quality pieces.

Image courtesy of Joeltron

Bars – Labrets, Barbells

There 3 connection methods available for bar style jewellery. They are Internal, External and Threadless.

Internal – This means the screw thread is hidden inside the post. Sharp edged screw threads are hidden with this method so they are more comfortable to insert and wear in a fresh or healed piercing. Internally threaded jewellery also allows for lower profile designs as the bulky external thread doesn’t have to be hidden inside the threaded end. This connection type is more secure than external due to it’s design which means less chance of losing jewellery.

Pros – More comfortable to wear and insert, more secure, more jewellery options, suitable for fresh piercings
Cons – Increased difficulty to manufacture

External – This design has the screw thread exposed on the outside of the post. The screw thread can cause damage and discomfort during insertion into a fresh or healed piercing and if any of the thread is exposed it can irritate the piercing channel and cause excess scar tissue growth. This is the cheapest form of body jewellery and rarely is available in implant safe materials or with a polish smooth enough for initial piercing. The screw thread tends to get worn down during the machine polishing process which makes the threaded ends less secure than other connection methods and a higher chance of losing jewellery. This type of jewellery should be avoided.

Pros – Cheap, widely available
Cons – Bulky designs, reduced security, damage to piercing channel during insertion and potentially wear, poor surface finish common, rarely made from implant safe materials, unsuitable for fresh piercings

Threadless – Threadless jewellery is our personal favourite here at Rogue. Threadless jewellery has no screw threads as it uses a pin with a kink to create a sprung friction connection, so no threads to cause discomfort. The biggest bonus of this is that jewellery ends can be swapped between posts of different thickness, this is something that neither internal nor external can do. Due to a simpler manufacturing process threadless bars are cheaper than internally threaded bars and as they are mainly made by companies that only manufacture from implant safe materials. This connection method offers a security too as they can be spun when cleaning without the end coming loose. Much smaller designs can be made with style too which has lead to some of the amazing piercing work around the world currently.

Pros – Secure, many jewellery options, ends can be swapped between posts easily, suitable for fresh piercings, cheap(er than internal)
Cons – Can’t be used for surface piercing work

Rings – Clip, Pressure, Hinge

Rings can really change the style of a piercing but the ring must be chosen to match the piercing carefully. Different connection types really change the properties of rings. Options for ring connection are Clip in, Close Connection

A segment ring with dimple visible inside

Clip In – Ball Closure Rings (BCR’s) and Segment Rings are prime examples of clip in connection. The jewellery design has 2 dimples that a ring can ‘snap’ into and hold in place using spring tension. This is one of the oldest and most successful styles of body jewellery connection. They are cheap to produce but can be damaged easily by customers and piercers during insertion or removal. Some of these pieces of jewellery may also require tools to insert or remove. There are lots of jewellery styles available and generally they can be found in implant safe materials so they are safe for initial or healed piercings. Check where the dimples on the jewellery and the ring meet to check there are no sharp edges or large grooves to spot quality products.

Pros – Cheap, widely available, easy to use, large style range
Cons – Security depends on manufacture quality and care during insertion, unsafe materials available, easily damaged

Pressure – Seam Rings and Fixed Bead Rings are examples of a pressure close. The ring is bent so that it’s ends are meeting each other. Tension should be set in the ring so the ends stay against each other. If the jewellery is inserted poorly or the jewellery gets damaged then the ends can move apart and irritate a piercing. Seam rings are for healed piercings and Fixed Bead rings can be used in initial piercings on a case by case basis. A wide range of materials, including both safe and unsafe are available in these styles so it is wise to check.

Pros – Many styles available, easier for clients to change, cheap
Cons – Easy to insert poorly, easily damaged, not suitable for initial piercing

Hinge – Hinge rings use a gate on a hinge to close the jewellery. The gate can connect to the other side via pressure, hooked sprung design or latch. The design of the connection point and the hinge varies wildly between quality levels. A well designed, high quality hinge ring will have a hinge and connection point that are as small and enclosed as possible. A well designed piece will also include a method of preventing any mechanical parts from moving through a piercing as this can lead to irritation. Hinge rings are easy to use by customers but are generally only suitable for healed piercings. The security of the connection point and strength of the hinge can vary by quality and also be damaged easily during insertion.

Pros – Easy to use, very secure if designed well
Cons – Large range of quality levels, healed piercings only

If all of that sounds confusing then don’t worry, the Rogue piercing team will be able to help guide you through the different styles available and which will work best for your piercing.

Next week is one of our personal favourite subjects. Materials!

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High Quality?

The general standard of piercing and body jewellery available across the UK has been low for a long time. In recent years there has been a movement to increase the quality level and our piercers have been at the forefront of this. We believe in high quality jewellery and the difference that it makes to a happy healthy piercing. Over a series of blog posts we are going to break down what makes a quality piece of jewellery and why this is important. These blog posts will cover:

  • Connection – Internal, External, Threadless
  • Material – Metals, Glasses, Plastics and Organics
  • Design – Jewellery Styles, Good from Bad, Surface Finish, Coatings
  • Initial Vs Healed – Sterilisation, Natural Oils
  • Gemstones – Types, Grades, Cuts

Sign up to our Email Mailing List for regular updates (Low Volume – No more than 1 per week).

For a more in-depth discussion about any of these subjects feel free to talk to any of our team by booking a free consultation on our book now page and they will be glad to share our passion with you. You can also take a look at the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) homepage at safepiercing.org or the United Kingdom Association of Professional Piercers (UKAPP) homepage at UKAPP.org.uk

High and Low Quality side by side
It’s easy to see the difference when you put high quality and low quality side by side
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Hello Nottingham!

Hello! We’ll be setting up shop in Nottingham’s Lace Market soon. We’re excited to bring your jewellery and piercing desires to reality. It’s going to be a little while while we build a new studio and get everything up to our high standards so for now here’s something from our portfolio to whet your appetite.

Hello! Anatometal White Opal Cluster made from implant grade Titanium, anodised to a Golden Yellow finish in a Conch Ring
Anatometal White Opal Cluster made from implant grade Titanium, anodised to a Golden Yellow finish in a Conch Ring