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Material choice for Body Jewelry


I’ve been asked by a customer to make a piece of “body jewelry” for
him, and I need some guidance as to which metals I should be working
with, if I make it, at all. The piece he has in mind is something he
says he’s seen on several friends in the Indonesian community, and
from his description, it seems to be a slender tube with 0.05 ct
Diamonds at either end, which he intends to (and I quote:)
“permanently insert through the bridge of my nose, so that the skin
grows over everything but the Diamonds and the bezel that holds them
in”. Having never taken on anything like this before, I’m more than a
little nervous about it, and, frankly, scared as hell about the
ramifications of potential liability for whatever reactions his skin
might have to alloys.

Has anyone on the list ever tackled jobs like this, before and, if
so, which metal(s) did you use’ From the description I’ve been given,
it sounds like the way to go would be to use my water torch to fuse
(rather than solder) two nesting tubes of platinum or palladium
together, then tap screw threads into the outside of one and the
inside of the other – to make a miniature barrel clasp, or sorts –
then do a traditional tube setting of the stones into the ends, and
have hime hire someone else to do the insertion (like whoever’s done
the many, many others on his body). Can someone tell me if I’m on
the right track, here’ (please’)

A great many thanks,

Douglas Turet,
G.J.,Turet Design
P.O. Box 242
Avon, MA 02322-0242
(508) 586-5690


316L surgical stainless steel. Furthermore, it should have
absolutely no nicks or even tiny scratches. There are many people
who specialize in body jewelry and many of those can be found
through an online search. The piercing he wants is fairly common but
most good piercers will not use jewelry that a customer brings in.
This is because the piercer wants to ensure that it is made of the
proper material and is quality made. If he knows who he is going to
do the piercing - and he should be seriously investigating this -
then perhaps you could talk to the piercer.

Yes, I have piercings.

Verna Holland


I began making dichro navel rings a couple of years ago. Took the
time to visit body jewelry shops and read up before I started. A
friend helped me to as she’s really into body jewelry. The metal
typically needs to be non-allergenic, titanium, stainless steel, gold
etc. Silver might work however it’s softer than desired. Some people
though are simply can’t wear silver. I went with gold. Gold and
dichro really work well together. And yes, that’s a tiny piece of



Well, no matter what the skin isn’t going to "permanently grow over"
the jewelry. For the illusion he wants, he’ll have to get the
piercing first then size the jewelry precisely to the hole. It will
still be a regular piercing like all the others on his body. He will
still have to remove it once in a while to clean it and keep it from
infection. As for the material to use, 316LVM stainless steel,
titanium 6AL4V, niobium, platinum, or at least 14K gold would be the
safest choices to avoid reaction in a new piercing. Also be sure it
polished to a very fine mirror finish. Any rough spots could cause
trouble for your customer. As far as making the jewelry goes, visit
your local piercing shop and check out the barbells. You’ve got the
right idea. Be sure also to find out the gauge of his piercing so
that it doesn’t turn out too thick to fit through the hole in his
skin. Hope this helps you some.


I've been asked by a customer to make a piece of "body jewelry" for
him, and I need some guidance as to which metals I should be working

Hello Doug,

One of the readers of my “Working with Argentium” blog has been using
Argentium Sterling for this type of work and reports great success.
Check the bottom of the “Is Argentium Hypoallergenic?” post at

There is actually some reason to believe this would be true because
both silver and germanium have low-toxicity and anti-bacterial

“The field of organo-germanium chemistry is becoming increasingly
important. Certain germanium compounds have a low mammalian toxicity,
but a marked activity against certain bacteria, which makes them
useful as chemotherapeutic agents.”

See also this article (
,it’s a PDF) from THE SILVER INSTITUTE which contains a section on
"silver used to purify water for drinking, bathing and recreation".
Not exactly on the hypoallgenic issue but certainly related.

As to hardness Argentium Sterling can be heat hardened to be about
twice as hard as regular sterling silver. Still not as hard as some
of the surgical stainless steels but pretty hard nevertheless. (FWIW,
see the blog posts on “Precipitation Hardening” for details on this
very simple and very effective procedure)

Trevor F.
in The City of Light


Just to echo what some others have said about 316 LVM Surgical
implant steel

my boyfriend used to do piercing and made his own jewelry. and that
is what he said to use. He got his from Dakota Steel. I found a good
website for you, though it may have more that you want.
anyway, good luck, sounds like a fun project.


I've been asked by a customer to make a piece of "body jewelry"
for him, and I need some guidance as to which metals I should be
working with, if I make it, at all. 


I wrote this days ago and forgot to mail it. Hopefully this will
still be pertinent. I’ll admit that I’m no expert at this topic, but
like all jewelers and jewelry teachers, its hard to be in business
these days without crossing paths with the body modification world on
some level, at some point. Most of us have made earrings. When I
first made a nipple ring, I just figured that I would make it like an
earring. My customer wanted it out of white gold, but was intimidated
by how much it would cost and wanted to explore different metals.
Ultimately, when she could afford it, she also wanted to get a nipple
shield (like that thing that Janet Jackson had). I was in a similar
situation to you. What I did was went to the internet (this was way
before Orchid). There are so many body jewelry websites out there to
help. The biggest and by far the best is BME: Body Modification
Ezine, It is an unbelievably comprehensive
website on piercing/body modification. They have an encyclopedia and
history section that will blow your mind and answer questions that
you would never guess even could be asked. Years later, when I wrote
my master’s thesis for my MFA, this website came in really handy.

One of the things that I learned with my nipple ring dilemma is that
different areas of the body have different levels of sensitivity.
Piercing through cartilage is different from piercing through flesh
for example. Cartilage is more resilient, flesh is more sensitive and
has more quirks. Also, just like with earrings, not everyone is the
same, some people are sensitive to what others are not. Another thing
I learned and is why I’m writing, because I don’t see anyone else
mentioning this, is that sensitive flesh vs. cartilage often can’t
handle nickel-based white gold. With sensitive body parts you have to
use palladium-based white gold.

As far as the liability thing goes, I would definitely get your
customer to sign a statement saying that you are making a custom
piece of jewelry at your customer’s request, to his or her
specifications and that you take zero responsibility for the results.
Also I think you know this, but you’re not a piercer, don’t get
talked into in any installation.

Good luck! Just think what kind of requests you’re going to get once
you get a reputation for this. I helped a local dentist one time make
a setting for setting a diamond into someone’s tooth. After that I
became the guy in my area that all of the local dentists went to for
help with setting diamonds into teeth. I thought that was pretty

Jeff Georgantes
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH

As far as the liability thing goes, I would definitely get your
customer to sign a statement saying that you are making a custom
piece of jewelry at your customer's request, to his or her
specifications and that you take zero responsibility for the
results. Also I think you know this, but you're not a piercer,
don't get talked into in any installation. 

First, I’d like to say that it’s great to be back with no looming
hurricanes, power outages and downed phone lines! Now, what’d I

Getting to the thread, Jeff makes a very good point here. Many of
you know I’ve put my lapidary and goldsmithing pursuits on the back
burner in favor of working as a full-time store gemologist, but many
of you don’t know of my 14-year stint as a professional tattoo

Like most tattoo artists of that day, I had a strong dislike for
piercing because it was becoming so closely associated with
tattooing that I thought it subtracted from the art. Here’s where I
make a point as to why jewelers should not make body jewelry: The
only reason I learned piercing is because of the people who visited
my shop looking for help with their swollen, infected, dermatitic
reactions from their professionally done piercings who needed
someone to go to for help. These were people who had piercing work
done from established businesses, the proprietors of which
supposedly knew what they were doing. Often, the problem was caused
by ill advice for aftercare, but sometimes it was a case of
improperly gauging the size, gauge or length of the jewelry employed
in the piercing.

In every case, only stainless steel jewelry must be used for the
initial piercing. No alloyed metal should ever be inserted into the
human body until the piercing is fully healed. Some may take as
little as a week, others may take as long as six months to fully
heal. Navel piercings are an example. On the issue of tongue
piercings, I saw many with ill-advised aftercare and short jewelry,
even though stainless steel, that had gone quite wrong. But even
after a long healing period has occurred, reactions may still happen
with alloyed metals.

Group all of the above together and you may find that
you should pass on this opportunity. It’s not simply a matter of
what metal you use to make the jewelry, it’s a combination of how
well the piercer did the work, their aftercare instructions, whether
or not the customer actually FOLLOWS those instructions (assuming
said instructions are even correct), and the very distinct
possibility of a dermatitic reaction even long after the initial
piercing has healed. It isn’t simply a matter of using nickel-free
alloys, palladium white gold can cause dermatitis just as easily.
The copper in yellow gold isn’t always friendly, either. Tread very

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL


Dental alloys precious and non precious should be tried for making
body jewellery which are Certified by American Dental Association.

Since they are used for preparing crown and bridges, which remain in
the mouth (oral cavity ) for several years, with out any problem to
the gums or adjacent teeth.

I started my career as a dental technician in 1984 and then switched
over to cast jewelery as a hobby in my dental lab in 1988 and from
1990, am a full time jewellery caster to the trade in precious
metals, and in 1992 went to Germany for advance rubber mold making
training , then in 1995 went to Bangkok for taking training in
goldsmithing, stone setting, jewellery designing, I stayed for three

After all these years I am now a true jewellery professional , having
15 years of jewellery manufacturing skills and knowledge from
designing, modelmaking in metal and wax , mold making, casting,
plating, mass finishing and polishing etc.

And I thank every one on the Orchid forum, for they are all great
individuals sharing their knowledge and experience.

May God Bless us all with a total health, Mental, physical,
Spiritual and Social.

Your Orchidian friend

from India


When making body jewelery I think the largest thing to consider is
how long it’s going to be worn. You can use more conventional metals
in the body if it for a special occasion wear (this will effect your
design as well, you can push conventional body jeweler design further
if it not worn all the time). What I mean by this is if the person
wants a say gold nipple ring with a shield to wear now and again then
it might work for them. They may however still have a bad reaction so
warn them and have them sign something saying you have warned them
about the possible risk. Infected/ swollen piercings are nasty (trust
me on this one).

It can be hard to judge, and depends on the person, and very much
the place the jewelery is going in. You wouldn’t want a silver tongue
ring for example or say anything not surgical implant grade in
genital piercings. The grade of surgical metal will matter to. There
are a lot of “surgical steel” piercing jewelery out there but I was
taught that you should use LVM surgical steel ( more expensive, yet
only a very tiny part of the population will have issues.) You may
wish to try using surgical implant grade titanium, it’s hard to work
with and you will dull many tools, but it’s light (good for bigger
gauge pieces) and all though the super polished finish is a bit of a
dull gray, it can be anodized to make very stunning pieces.

How this helps a little as there are a lot of things to consider.

Zoe Hardisty

ps. Inspect your piece with a loupe to make sure there is no dents
or scratches as these are places bacterial will thrive and cause
infections. Get your client to take the finished piece to a body
piercing place to get it autoclave before they put it in, this will
sanitize it properly and severely reduce chances of infection (the
piece should be put in sanitary as well to further this- sounds like
common sense but so many people just don’t know.)