Nickel is a lustrous metal found in some jewellery components. Fifteen percent of people are allergic to nickel, a number which is rising with the popularity of body piercing.
Nickel allergy symptoms range from red, scaly skin to blisters at the area of contact. Once a nickel allergy develops, it is usually life-long.
The problem is so prevalent that the European Union has placed a nickel ban on jewellery sold there.
Products labelled Nickel Free must not contain more than .05% nickel or 1 part in 2000.
Read more about nickel allergies here.
Hypoallergenic Earrings and Jewellery
Titanium metal is used for surgical implants and body piercing jewellery because of its non-reactive nature. It is highly popular for jewellery as it can be coloured easily and does not effect people with sensitivities.
The 300 series of surgical stainless steels boast unique attributes including corrosion resistance, clean-ability, ease of fabrication, appearance and availability. Most importantly, they bond nickel within an alloy so it won't be absorbed into the bloodstream in quantities capable of causing a reaction.
This makes it the material of choice for hygienic applications in food processing, medicine and jewellery manufacture.
Grade 316L, comprising 18% chromium, 10% nickel and 2% molybdenum, is used extensively in the posts, cups and hooks of piercing jewellery.
View Wild Steel body piercing jewellery.
Sterling silver is a hypoallergenic metal, comprising 92.5 per cent silver and 7.5 per cent copper. There is no nickel in sterling silver.
Sterling silver is soft and malleable, making it ideal for creating jewellery like the circular sleeper. The copper makes it more durable so it not only looks beautiful, but lasts a lifetime.
Sterling Silver Jewellery Care
Tarnishing naturally occurs when silver comes into contact with oil on the skin, sulphur in the air, smoke and beauty products.
With proper care, your sterling silver jewellery can always look beautiful. To prevent damage, keep it in a cloth, pouch or separate compartment in your jewellery box.
If it does become tarnished, simply get a silver restoration polish from your local jeweller or supermarket.
Gold is a highly sought after precious metal. Bright yellow in colour, it has always been considered beautiful. Gold may tarnish but it can easily be restored with a polish from your local jeweller or supermarket.
Pure gold is too soft to withstand everyday wear so it is alloyed with other metals including silver, copper, nickel and zinc to make it more durable.
In 2006 it was estimated that the total amount of gold ever mined was 158,000,000 kilograms - a cube with a length of just 20.2 metres.
By our calculations, that gold would be worth about $US 5 trillion on today's market.
In many countries gold has been used as a standard for monetary exchange, a practice abandoned with the rise of legal tender - government approved currency.
The price of gold is dictated by global markets. It is still used as a hedge aganst inflation and economic disruptions and is considered a safehaven for investors.
Gold plating is a method of depositing a layer of gold onto the surface of another metal, usually copper or silver.
Carat is the term used to express the proportion of gold in an alloy as well as the measurement used to describe the weight of diamonds and other gemstones.
With gold, the carat is displayed by a number followed by a "k", and is expressed in 24ths, making 24k gold 100 percent gold.
24 carat = 100% gold Too soft for jewellery
22 carat = 91.7% gold Very soft and not recommended for jewellery
18 carat = 75.0% gold Recommended for fine jewellery
14 carat = 58.3% gold Recommended for jewellery
9 carat = 37.5% gold The legal carat limit considered real gold in New Zealand
The alloys mixed with pure gold influence its colour. 18 carat gold will always consist of 75 percent pure gold, but depending on what alloys it is mixed with, may appear yellow, white or rose gold in colouration.
With diamonds and other gemstones, a metric carat equals 0.20 gram. Since most diamonds weigh less than 1 carat, the carat is subdivided into 100 points. A diamond weighing 3/4 carat is a 75 point diamond.
1 carat can be expressed as: 1ct, 200 milligrams, 1/5 gram or 100 points.
Because gemstones are measured by carat weight and not size, two diamonds the same carat weight might be different sizes depending on how they are cut.
A diamond's quality is defined by the four c's - carat, clarity, colour and cut.
Clarity describes the clearness and is determined by the number, size and location of the internal (inclusions) and external (blemishes) imperfections.
F Flawless Free from all inclusions or blemishes
IF Internally Flawless No inclusions visible at 10x magnification
WS1 Very Very Slightly Included #1 Inclusions that are extremely difficult to locate at 10x
WS2 Very Very Slightly Included #2 Inclusions that are very difficult to locate at 10x
VS1 Very Slightly Included #1 Minor inclusions that are difficult to locate at 10x
VS2 Very Slightly Included #2 Minor inclusions that are somewhate difficult to locate at 10x
SI1 Slightly Included #1 Noticeable inclusions that are easy to locate at 10x
SI2 Slightly Included #2 Noticeable inclusions that are very easy to locate at 10x
I1 Included #1 Obvious inclusions. Somewhat easy to locate with the unaided eye.
I2 Included #2 Obvious inclusions. Easy to locate with the unaided eye.
I3 Included #3 Obvious inclusions. Very easy to locate with the unaided eye.
Diamonds range from colourless to yellow with tints of grey or brown. Rare and fancy colours include intense yellow, brown, blue, pink, green and red.
Cut refers to the proportions, symmetry and finish of a diamond, determining its brilliance (the amount of light reflected to the eye). The quality of a cut is responsible for the stone's beauty.
Earring & Jewellery Gauges
Gauges measure the thickness of earring and piercing posts. The smaller the gauge, the larger the post.
A standard earring has an 18 or 20 gauge post and most ear piercings are performed with an 18 or 20 guage needle. Body piercing is traditionally done with 14 gauge needles and jewellery.
There are four systems for measuring gauges. The one commonly used for measuring jewellery is the American AWG/ Brown and Sharp system (see below).
22 Gauge 0.6426mm 20 Gauge 0.8103mm 18 Gauge 1.0236mm 16 Gauge 1.2903mm 14 Gauge 1.6256mm 12 Gauge 2.0523mm 10 Gauge 2.5857mm 8 Gauge 3.2614mm 6 Gauge 4.1148mm 4 Gauge 5.1892mm 2 Gauge 6.5430mm 0 Gauge 8.2525mm 00 Gauge 9.2659mm 000 Gauge 10.4038mm