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Healing Safe Body Jewelry: How to Tell if it’s Really Safe

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The #1 reason a piercing aches and pusses more than it needs to is the jewelry in your piercing is not safe. The safe materials are: implant grade (F-136) titanium, 14K gold, niobium, lead free glass, and platinum. Platinum is very rare (and expensive!) to find for body jewelry, so I will only be going in depth about the others.

Implant Grade Titanium

The reason I specify “implant grade” titanium, is because there are many different kinds of titanium. The only type of titanium that should ever go in your piercing is implant grade (F-136). If you are looking at buying body jewelry, and they don’t specify that it is implant grade, it’s not implant grade. Too often I see stores that prey on people who only kind of know what they’re looking for. Make 100% sure that it is implant grade.

Titanium has the benefit of being the cheapest body safe material. It can also be anodized to any color except black. Some piercers can anodize your jewelry for you. If your piercer doesn’t have an anodizer, you can buy anodized jewelry online. Anodization will eventually wear off and reveal the silver color underneath, but it does take a while and you can just get it anodized again.

14K Gold

14K Gold can be yellow, gold, or rose. Unfortunately, 14K gold is the most expensive of the options. Jewelry made with gold can be either 14K or 18K. If it is larger than 18K it is too soft for body jewelry, but it should never be less than 14K. The main thing to look out for with 14K gold is that it should not be plated, filled, or overlaid. It should be 100% solid gold.


Niobium is similar to titanium in looks and price. It is rarer to find niobium, but it has an additional benefit: it can be anodized. Niobium can be anodized black. If you want black jewelry, anodized niobium is your only safe option.


Glass is not frequently used long term, but is instead used as a clear retainer that may get you through the work day if your work is not body jewelry friendly. Glass can also be used if you need something like a surgery or MRI that requires jewelry removal. Check with your doctor first, but usually the reason jewelry isn’t allowed is because it’s made of magnetic metal. Glass is usually safe. This is a life changer for those with frequent doctor’s visits, as your piercings can often heal up before your procedure is done if there is nothing in it.

What about Stainless Steel 316L?

316L is tricky. It is commonly recommended by piercers and advertised as safe. However, it contains nickel. The funny thing about nickel: your helix may have an issue with nickel while your lobes do not. Each piercing in your body has its own reaction to nickel. For this reason, it is not recommended for healing piercings which are in an extra gentle stage. After your piercing is fully healed, you can try 316L and just switch it out if you have a reaction to the nickel.

What About Plating?

Plating wears off. If it’s plated with gold and filled with crap, your gold will soon wear off and your raw piercing will be touching crap. On the other hand, if it’s made of implant grade titanium but plated with crap (usually to make it black – use anodized niobium for this), your piercing will be touching the crap immediately. Just don’t use jewelry that is plated, go for 100%


The threading on your jewelry should be either internally threaded or threadless. Internally threaded jewelry has the threading (the part that looks like a screw) on the end. Externally threaded jewelry has the threading on the post. The reason externally threaded jewelry is bad is because the threading will have to go through your piercing when you put the jewelry in. You want anything that touches your piercing to be smooth. The threading on jewelry can cause little cuts and irritate your piercing.

For this reason, you also want the jewelry itself to be smooth in the part that sits (or goes through) your piercing. Some jewelry is twisted and will irritate your piercing the same way that externally threaded jewelry does. For a more in depth read about the importance of threading, check out this post.

Where to Find Jewelry

It can be difficult to find places that you can trust to buy quality jewelry. Your piercer should carry name brand quality jewelry, they’ll be able to make custom orders for you, and they can even switch it out for you as you happen to be there. Your piercer is always the recommended place to buy jewelry.

As for online, I recommend doing a little bit of poking around in the store you are looking at. Read some of their blog posts and see if the information they are giving out is trustworthy. I also don’t buy from stores that sell soap as aftercare, self-piercing kits (that’s a big no no!), externally threaded jewelry, or any materials that are not body safe. The reason I do this is because if they sell anything that is not safe or in your best interest, I can’t trust that their “safe” jewelry is really safe. Because you can’t really know the point of contact for the seller on Amazon, I also do not trust Amazon.