Good vs. bad body jewelry

September 1, 2023

Good vs. bad body jewelry

What is the difference between good and bad body jewelry, and why a client would care.
Friday, July 14, 2017
Brad Byrd

Choosing the right body jewelry is ESSENTIAL to having a good quality piercing that will heal well and fast. Improperly fitted jewelry, jewelry with poor finish or poor metals, or jewelry with external threading can cause you many problems during the install and healing process of your piercing. If you find a piercer who does not use quality jewelry, does not have appropriate stock for sizing, or has externally threaded jewelry - please leave.


High Quality Jewelry (Left) Vs Cheap Jewelry (Right). Photo Credit: Association of Professional Piercers

The finish of your jewelry is extremely important. Imagine for a second what a piercing actually is... it is a hole being made in your body with a foreign object inserted. Your body is expected to accept the jewelry as a permanent fixture and to heal around it. As you can see from the picture above, there is a stark difference between the two pieces of jewelry above. One has an absolutely smooth mirror finish and the other has many knicks and scratches when looked at closely. Your body absolutely prefers the first. It's easier to heal, does not have anything for your body to "latch" onto as it heals, causes minor irritation, and does not provide for a place for bacteria to hide. The jewelry on the left also is easily processed using a steam autoclave. The steam can touch the entire surface and perform a "full biological kill", killing anything living on the surface. The jewelry on the right is the exact opposite. It will cause irritation as it heals. It provides small grooves for bacteria to grow. The jewelry on the right may also not be fully sterilize after being used in an autoclave because the metal has scratches and autoclave manufacturers will warn against this.

You can see this for yourself under a magnifying glass, and oftentimes even by the naked eye.

Internally vs Externally Threaded Jewelry

Externally Threaded vs Internally Threaded Jewelry

The first thing you should look for with jewelry is whether or not it is internally threaded or externally threaded. To make things easy, if your piercer has any externally threaded jewelry anywhere in the building, walk away. If they are trying to sell you externally threaded jewelry, RUN! If they have both you should still visit another studio as this piercer clearly doesn't have the integrity of installing only what is appropriate and ethical.

Take a look at the pictures above to get a clear understanding of the difference between the two. The bar must pass through your fresh piercing in order to install it, and then again later when you remove it to clean after it's healed. The externally threaded jewelry has threads on the bar, causing tissue damage and pain every time it's inserted or removed. The Internally threaded jewelry has threading on the inside of the bar, allowing for smooth insertion.

Import vs Domestic Jewelry Metal

Another big factor in choosing jewelry is the metal. Simply put buying domestic is by far better than importing. I'll explain why.

MILL CERTIFICATES!!!! Jewelry companies are not required to provide mill certificates, but high quality companies do. A mill certificate is a certification that the metal used meets certain requirements. Do you ever have a piercer tell you that they have "implant grade stainless steel"?  If it was imported, chances are very good that it is not import grade and has a high nickel content. I've seen more people have issues with healing and local pain because of cheap "Implant grade stainless steel". American companies are reputable and well governed. If they make a claim that something they make is implant grade, then they must be able to back it up or they risk repercussions.

We only buy titanium, a step up from stainless steel since it is hypoallergenic. Consider only using Titanium yourself.


High quality jewelry costs significantly more than imported jewelry. You can go to websites such as and visit companies like Metal Mafia to get an idea of how cheap jewelry is made and costs. At these types of websites you can easily buy jewelry either by the pound or for an individual piece for next to nothing. This is why cheap studios will include jewelry in the price of their service. Let me give you an example. At these suppliers you can easily buy a "stainless steel barbell" for about .40. It's cheap. The type of piercer who would use this jewelry will either include it as part of their service to make you feel like you're getting a good value, or they will charge you $10. It's a heck of a deal for you until your piercing is infected, hurts, or heals incorrectly due to migration, rejection, or allergy.

Let's take the same barbell from a high quality company. It costs us over 40x more to buy the same kind of jewelry, however it's high quality and it's attributes are verifiable. The difference is that you may pay $35 for a high quality barbell that will last a lifetime, is reusable, and heals well, vs paying $10 for a cheap barbell that will cost you discomfort, pain, and possibly scarification from your jewelry migrating and rejecting. If there are medical bills involved due to an infection, well add that in.

While there is a cost difference you should consider the repercussions of buying cheap. We often hear, and recently even received a review for our jewelry pricing. The client said that we were charging 5x more than what other studios charge and that we couldn't be their piercing studio because of this. We hope that this blog helps you understand the seriousness of choosing appropriate body jewelry and that comparing a high quality studio and high quality jewelry to imported Chinese jewelry is not comparing apples to apples. The jewelry selected is the foundation of your piercing. Don't short yourself.

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