What type of metal is best for a piercing? 

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of your jewelry selection

Jewelry, originally made from materials like – bone, animal teeth, shells, wood, and carved stones – was once worn solely for its ‘magical’ properties.

Today, high quality jewelry has become an indicator of wealth, social status, religion, currency and overall adornment, made from the ‘Noble Metals’ of the earth – or more commonly referred to as ‘Precious Metals’ (Gold, Silver, Platinum).

Each metal comes with its own unique set of characteristics, and these characteristics, along with the stability and the scarcity of each metal will often determine how it is used, how it is shaped, and how it is sold. 

For example; ‘Noble Metals’ or ‘Precious Metals’ resist chemical reactions, they do not corrode, and are not easily attacked by acids – which is why their value is high and their uses are versatile.

Unlike ‘Base Metals’, which include Nickel, Zinc, and Copper that oxidize and corrode relatively easily, but are surprisingly also very versatile when used in smaller amounts.

Each metal plays a fundamental role in our everyday life whether you know it or not. Without the use of certain metals, our lives would not look the same.

As a matter of fact, the top two uses of metals are Medicine at # 1 and Electronics at # 2 – with jewelry coming in at a close 3rd. I bet you couldn’t last a week without your gadgets… just saying!

What Kind of Metals Do We Use for Jewelry at North York Ink? 

Titanium

At North York Ink we primarily use Implant Grade Titanium for all of our jewelry.

Which, as you guessed it, is actually used in implants (it’s not just a marketing shtick, though it does help). The grade of titanium we use is used in the majority of orthopedic titanium implants.

So hey, if it’s good enough for an orthopedic implant, it’s good enough for us.

In all seriousness. Though Titanium does not fall under the ‘Precious Metals’ category, is the most commonly used, and possibly the safest of all the hypoallergenic metals (Gold, Silver, Platinum, Rhodium and Palladium).

Not to mention reasonably affordable.  Titanium jewelry is truly hypoallergenic, bacteria-resistant, and super lightweight, making for some of the most comfortable jewelry to heal your new piercing.

Another reason we use titanium jewelry is because it has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of all known metals – which means that your titanium jewelry won’t rust or corrode and is incredibly difficult to scratch, as a result it will still look good-as-new even after years of wear and tear.

Lastly, one notable super advantage of titanium over most other jewelry is that you can manipulate the metal to change its appearance through a process called anodizing. Anodizing is an electrolytic finishing process that manipulates the oxide layer on the surface of titanium via electric current.

In short, you can change the color of your titanium jewelry virtually to whatever you want through this process. 

So, for all of you gold lovers that may not want to break the bank on a piece of jewelry, don’t worry, you don’t have to.

Not only is gold color titanium almost as desirable, if not just as desirable, it is also a fraction of the price of gold.

Gold

Though our primary choice of jewelry for new piercings is Titanium, we also provide some Gold options.

It is important to note that not all gold jewelry is of high quality and that lower grades of gold are, in fact, a mix of metals, with gold being the lesser.

Here is a comprehensive breakdown of Yellow Gold and all of the alloys that are used to form each karat: 

  • 9k Yellow Gold: 37.5% Gold, 42.5% Silver, 20% Copper
  • 10k Yellow Gold: 41.7% Gold, 52% Silver, 6.3% Copper
  • 14k Yellow Gold: 58.3% Gold, 30% Silver, 11.7% Copper
  • 18k Yellow Gold: 75% Gold, 15% Silver, 10% Copper
  • 22k Yellow Gold: 91.7%, Silver 5%, 2% Copper, 1.3% Zinc
  • 24k Yellow Gold: 100% Gold

As you can see, the lower the karat, the higher the percentage of other alloys. With that being said, gold is a tricky metal when it comes to new piercings.

When the karat is too low, it loses its value and is ultimately composed primarily of other metals that your body may react negatively to.

However, gold at the highest karat is also not necessarily ideal when it comes to new piercings.

The reason for that is that pure gold, 24k gold, is too soft for certain jewelry, and due to its density, it absorbs moisture, which is no bueno, as it can trap bacteria and potentially lead to an infection in your new piercing.

At North York Ink we use 14k and 18k gold to be safe as both grades of gold contain gold as the primary alloy, while still being partially composed of lesser amounts of silver and copper for their durability.

How Do I Know If I Am Allergic To My Jewelry?

A metal allergy is one of the most common types of skin allergies, you are not alone. Unfortunately, unless you’ve done a patch test in the past it is almost impossible to know of your metal allergy before it is too late. The most common metal allergy is a nickel allergy, and even more unfortunately, there is no cure, only treatments. 

Symptoms of Metal Allergies

Symptoms may occur as soon as 12 hours after your piercing, but typically you will notice symptoms between 12 and 48 hours. The reaction could last between two and four weeks. Symptoms include:

    • Rash
    • Itching 
    • Redness 
    • Dry patches 
    • Blisters

    This is why it is important to look for hypoallergenic jewelry like titanium, or if you can afford it – sterling silver or higher grades of yellow gold as these metals are less likely to cause allergic reactions. 

    Treatment for Metal Allergies

    As mentioned earlier, there is no cure for metal allergies, only treatments. Treatments like corticosteroid cream, nonsteroidal cream, oral corticosteroid, or an oral antihistamine are your best bets. All of these will have to be prescribed by your physician and NOT your piercer. 

    If you have any questions regarding your new piercing or any questions specific to the type of jewelry you currently have, feel free to hit us up at info@northyorkink.com or call us at (647) 501 8222. 

    Happy Healing! 

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