Where to start?
Titanium and niobium are two of the safest metals you can wear. Some people like to start with medical plastic or bioplast jewellery while their piercings settle down.
Medical plastic is made from a hardened version of the material used in surgical sutures.
Titanium is strong, lightweight and highly biocompatible (non-toxic and not rejected by the body).
Grades 1 - 4 (CP/commercially pure titanium) are slightly softer so are best for making earring hooks and other shapes. Mostly used for earrings.
Black PVD Titanium, Niobium and Surgical Steel
Black PVD titanium, niobium and surgical steel have a coating of Titanium Aluminum Nitride (TiAlN) applied using physical vapour deposition (PVD) to create a hypoallergenic, long-lasting black colour.
Gold and Rose Gold PVD Titanium, Niobium and Surgical Steel
Gold and rose gold PVD titanium, niobium and surgical steel have a coating of Zirconium Nitride (ZrN) applied using physical vapour deposition (PVD) to create a hypoallergenic, long-lasting gold or rose gold colour without using any actual gold.
Niobium looks very similar to titanium but is an element rather than an alloy (a mix of metals), it is ideal if you are allergic to nickel, silver or gold.
Like titanium it can be anodised, changing the surface colour of the metal to create a range of colours. Niobium used in a jewellery has to be as pure as possible and is sometimes know as 999 Niobium or 99.9% niobium.
Surgical Steel and Stainless Steel
Stainless and surgical steel are an alloys which contains a small amount of nickel. Please be aware that this can cause a reaction in people who are very sensitive to nickel.
However it is the rate of release of nickel (rather than nickel content) that really matters. The specific composition of 316L steel (also known as implant grade steel and surgical stainless steel) allows for very little exposure to the nickel molecules which reduces the risk of allergic reactions.
Nickel Release Rates
Surgical steel is suitable for use in healed piercings but is not recommended for initial piercings.
24 carat gold is the purest form available. Gold that is less than 24 carat is an alloy and it is the other metals in the alloy that usually cause allergic reactions to gold jewellery. 24ct gold is too soft to use on it's own so it is alloyed (mixed) with other metals to make it stronger or used as a plating.
What does hypoallergenic mean?
The word hypoallergenic means having a decreased tendency to provoke an allergic reaction. It should not be considered a guarantee that no one will react to an item of jewellery since it is possible to be allergic to anything.