Piercings: implant grade titanium or surgical steel?

I often hear people say: "My piercings are made of surgical steel, and since it's used in surgeries, it is top-notch quality for sure!" WRONG!

Surgical steel

Surgical SteelSurgical steel is a broad term that's used for every metal that is used in, for example, medical facilities. But there's no exact definition of what it is. This name is used for every type of rust-free metal. Think of installations for tapping in a pub, tables, chairs, kitchenware, door handles, ...

Considering there's no set standard for this, it makes it easy for producers to use everything for the alloy of this metal. That's why we, as piercers, call it 'mystery metal'. The cheapest and most used form of alloy for surgical steel is nickel. A large percentage of the population has a certain reaction or allergy to nickel, which can make for a very unfortunate piercing-experience.

Even if the outside of the piercings is made from surgical steel, the refinement is very low. They aren't polished and often have little scratches that carry bacteria and irritations into healing piercing.

These piercings are very cheap and leave piercers with a large margin of profit.


Photo credit ‘Amato Fine Jewelry and Body Piercing”
On the left is implant grade titanium, on the right surgical steel. 


Implant grade titanium (ASTM F-136 ELI)

At Inksane we only use implant grade titanium and massive gold, for beginning and healed piercings.

But wat does this mean?

ASTM = American Standard Test Method

F = Metals that can be used during medical procedures

ELI = Extra Low Interstitial, a higher grade of metal used for long lasting implants, like a new knee or a hip.

Let's focus on ASTM. Producers that work with metal and follow ASTM have to follow certain rules, and everything needs a corresponding 'Mill Certificate' checked by the ASTM itself. This is a document where the chemical components of the complete product are listed and where you can find what is contained within the alloy. European producers often falsify this information, but they are known by name by the ASTM.

The European Union has passed a regulation in 2009 stating that a certain amount of nickel is acceptable, even in jewelry.

"But if we know nickel is bad, why is the EU allowing this?" The same reason as to why cigarettes are still being sold.

There's also a thing called ASTM F-138, which is implant grade surgical steel. Piercings that have gone through this testing process and where it's confirmed there's, for example, no nickel in the alloy.

ASTM jewelry is only produced in America where these regulations are enforced and the metals are tested. We have to pay import costs which makes this jewelry more expensive at the end of the road, and harder to get due to transport times.


That's why our prices are a little bit more expensive. A lot of European piercers don't use this type of product yet.

More and more producers in Europe are starting to pay attention and are doing their best to adhere to these standards, but this can take a while.

Many American dealers already have partners in Europe and the UK, which makes for a faster delivery. 

For me, the safety of the customer and a good healing process are of the utmost importance, which is why our prices are a bit higher than other shops.