Nirvana Body Jewellery - Knowledge Area

Body Piercing Jewellery: Materials

Surgical Steel

Surgical Steel, also know as Surgical Stainless Steel, is an alloy (a mixture of different metals) used in two different grades in the body piercing industry, one for use in initial piercing and one for healed piercings.

For initial piercings, 'Nickel Free' Surgical Steel is used due to its lack of contaminants and high resistance to corrosion, it will not cause Nickel dermatitis or release Nickel salts into the body and satisfies the 'European Metal Directive'.

For healed piercings, the highly polished (electropolished) 316L or 316LVM Surgical Steel is without doubt the most popular materials on the market for making piercing jewellery. However, due to the small amount of Nickel in 316L Surgical Steel, it is not suitable for people with a Nickel allergy.

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surgical steel

Nickel Free Steel (Implantanium)

We stock ‘Nickel Free Steel’ (less than 0.05% nickel by weight or 500 parts per million) as a very low nickel alternative to plain polish Titanium. The jewellery conforms to all three annexes of the European Union Nickel Directive for use in initial piercing applications and therefore ‘Nickel Free Steel’ can also be referred to as EEC Compliant Steel. Implantanium is the most popular trademarked name for Nickel Free Steel.

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nickel free steel


Titanium is a super lightweight inert metal used for the manufacture of jewellery for the body piercing industry due to its strength, purity and corrosion resistant qualities. Only the highest grade of titanium known as ‘Grade 23 Titanium’ is used and is certified safe for permanent implantation in the human body and can be used in initial piercing applications in accordance with European Union Nickel Directive. When polished up, know as 'Plain Polished' Titanium, it gives a nice metallic silvery grey colour that looks very similar to Surgical Steel but at only half the weight. The huge advantage of Titanium is that it can be anodised in a massive range of superbly bright colours.

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Black Titanium (Blackline)

Black Titanium (also known as Blackline) jewellery is produced using a ‘Physical Vapour Deposition’ (PVD) coating on a Surgical Grade 23 Titanium. All Blackline jewellery is completely bio-compatible and can be worn in both fresh and healed piercings. Hard wearing, highly scratch resistant and with a beautiful high polish finish, Blackline is available as a finish on a wide range of jewellery.

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Zircon Gold

Zircon Gold is a trade name for an inert PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) coating applied to Surgical Grade 23 Titanium to give it a lovely high polish golden coloured sheen. Hard wearing, scratch resistant and super light weight in comparison to actual Gold, it has been certified Biocompatible for external and internal medical devices and thus safe for use in both fresh and healed piercings.

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zircon gold

Black Steel

Black Steel, also referred to as 'Black PVD on Steel' or under the trademark name 'Mysterium', has same beautiful black glossy sheen ‘Physical Vapour Deposition’ (PVD) coating used in making ‘Blackline’ but this time applied to Surgical Steel. A less expensive alternative to Blackline, athough the jewellery is not usable in initial piercing applications under European Union Nickel Directive but can be worn safely in fully healed piercings.

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black steel

Anodised Steel

A very misleading name indeed as Surgical Steel, unlike Titanium, cannot be anodised. We believe the confusion exists in the piercing world due to the direct association of colour with the Anodising of Titanium jewellery. Three processes do exist that can change the colour of Surgical Steel: 1) Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) which produces amongst others Black Steel (see above). 2) Ion Vapour Deposition (IVD) to give an aluminium coating which is then anodised. 3) Coating the steel with a very thin layer of Chrome, giving rise to a limited number of colours.

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anodised steel


Bioplast, as the name suggests, is a form of plastic with many advantages over more traditional metal/alloy jewellery materials. Widely used in the piercing industry for the manufacture of 'Retainers', making it a safe option to keep your piercings open during X-Rays, MRIs and other surgical procedures.

Bioplast is similar to PTFE in that is completely autoclavable, will work well in both initial and healed piercings and is suitable for people with a Nickel allergy as it passes the European Union Nickel Directive. As a polymer it is very flexible and can be cut to any length before being threaded with a metal ball.

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Acrylic (Polymethylmethacrylate / PMMA)

Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), commonly referred to as Acrylic, is a lightweight and completely biologically inert plastic most commonly used in the piercing industry for the manufacture of Flesh Tunnels, Eyelets, Plugs and Tapers used in stretched / stretching Ear Lobes. Acrylic has a history reaching back to the 1920s, making it one of the first mass-produced plastics and is currently manufactured by many large multi-national corporations under many 'trade names' including Perspex, Lucite & Pexiglass. Acrylic cannot be autoclaved due to its relatively low melting point as this would cause the jewellery to change shape and distort during the sterilizing process.

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pmma acrylic

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene)

PTFE or Polytetrafluoroethylene to give it its full title, is a thermoplastic polymer which is used widely in both the medical and body jewellery fields as well as an astonishing variety of other areas; from non-stick frying pans to plumbing thread seal tape!

First discovered, accidentally, in 1938 by chemist Roy Plunket, it is a very useful part of any piercers armoury due to its practical uses and properties which include amazing biocompatibility, complete inertness, flexibility and super low friction properties making it 'non-stick' when placed in the body.

PTFE is completely autoclavable, sports a reputation of a material which is easily accepted by the body so works well for both initial and healed piercings and is a great substitute for people with metal/alloy allergies and is a safe option to keep your piercings open during X-Rays, MRIs and other surgical procedures.

PTFE is used in the manufacture of Straight, Curved and Circular Barbells and Labret Studs and, as a relatively soft polymer, can be self-threaded by screwing on a Steel or Titanium Ball.

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We sell only medical grade Silicone, which comes in a large selection of colours, gauges and styles. As well as being inert and fully biocompatible, Silicone is both flexible and relatively soft, making it a much more comfortable option for both solid Plugs and Eyelets for streched ear piercings.

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We stock various types of glass in our range, from man made Borosilicate, Barium Crystal and Soda Lime, to naturally occurring forms including Obsidian and Volcanic. Glass is completely inert, making a great choice for all piercings of a suitable size due to its hypoallergenic properties, stength and hardness and is sold main in the form of Plugs, Flared Eyelets and various Ear Spirals and Twists. Each piece of glass is hand blow so you may find very small discrepancies in the width of internal diameters on spirals, twist etc. Be careful with your glass purchase as if you drop it, stand on it etc as it may break or chip; tiled shower floors have claimed their fair share of broken victims.

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Different Wood (predominantly hardwoods) are used in the manufacture of jewellery in the body piercing industry mainly to make Eyelets and solid Ear Plugs for stretched Ear Lobe piercings. Porous in nature, all hardwoods must be lightly lubricated from time to time to prevent them drying out completely and leaching moisture from the surface of the piercing itself. With so many types of hardwood available on the market today, a good range of colours are available from an almost blond 'Crocodile Wood' through to a deep red 'Blood Wood' and a dark brown 'Palm Wood'. It should be noted that all Wood Eyelets and Plugs will darken slightly with age and long term use. A great choice for any healed piercing. Common woods used in the manufacture of piercing jewellery:

Antic Wood - mid-brown patterned wood
Asam Wood - mid-brown hardwood
Batik Wood - light yellow patterned wood
Blood Wood - red/orange Hardwood
Coconut Wood - light coloured wood flecked with small dark particles
Crocodile Wood - pale yellow hardwood
Ebony Wood - dark-brown coloured hardwood
Iron Wood - dark brown, smooth hardwood
Palm Wood – mainly mid-brown wood flecked with darked spots
Parasite Wood – grained mid-brown hardwood
Pink Ivory Wood - red / pink hardwood
Snake Wood - light brown/dark brown stripped hardwood
Sono Wood - mid-brown coloured hardwood
Teak Wood - light brown hardwood

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Buffalo Horn


A natural product used to make Plugs, Flesh Tubes and even heavy gauge Spirals, Buffalo Horn can come in a multitude of colours from a dark yellow to a superb deep brown. The jewellery we sell is made from hand carved Water Buffalo Horn and it should be noted that Buffalos are not killed for their horn; it is removed as a by-product and no animal suffered in the production of these products.


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buffalo horn


Amber is fossilized tree resin from approx. 100 million years ago, more often than not mined in the Baltic Regions. Amber is considered to be chemically inert and used in the piercing industry to make solid Plugs for stretched Ear Lobe Piercings. Variation in colour is good and ranges between a bright golden yellow to a deep brown with many pieces having small amount of debris including minerals, seeds, pine needles and in some rarer instances even small flies and insects trapped within them. Usually used in the piercing industry to make solid Plugs for stretched Ear Lobe Piercings

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Mammoth Ivory

Mined from Northern Siberia from the permafrost tombs of this long extinct giant mammal, Mammoth Ivory has in recent years become a popular and interesting choice for the manufacture of Ear Plugs and Eyelets. With all pieces unique, these are a great choice for any stretched Lobe. Will darken with wear.

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mammoth ivory


Over time Coral has become a more popular choice for both Ear Plug and Eyelet manufacture. A beautiful natural and unique choice.

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A natural stone found all over the world in a variety of colours and limitless veined patterns used in the piercing industry for the production of both solid Ear Plugs and Eyelets.

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Available in many different purities, Gold in its purest form is classified as being 'Karat' but is probably too soft in this grade to be of any practical use in the Body Piercing field. Both 14 and 18 Karat Gold will work well for use in an initial piercing, although it should be noted that it is prone to being easily scratched. A great if expensive choice that, along with Gold Plating, has more or less been replace in the piercing world by 'Zircon Gold' (a gold coloured PVD Titanium).


Gold Plated

A process by which a super thin layer of Gold is laid down on top of another metal (usually Surgical Steel in the piercing industry) giving the impression of solid Gold jewellery at a fraction of the price of the real thing. Note that the use of Gold Plating has diminish considerably with the introduction of Zircon Gold.

gold plated

Hematite (Haematite)

Hematite (also spelled as Haematite) is a naturally occurring form of iron oxide used for manufacturing Clip-in Balls for Ball Closure Rings. Finished with a hole machined across the centre of the ball, it is available in a choice of different diameters suitable for different sized BCRs.

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