Body jewelry comes in a variety of different metallic materials, and labeling can sometimes be confusing, so here’s a little info about exactly what you’re getting:
.925 Sterling Silver: When you see “925” stamped on an item or printed in its specifications, that means the jewelry is sterling silver. That is, a specific type of high quality alloy composed of 92.5% pure silver. Fine silver (a purity of over 99%) is too soft to be used in functional objects, so .925 sterling is used to maintain quality while imparting a higher degree of durability.
14kt Gold: There are many different types of gold used in body jewelry, but each listed carrot weight is actually a reference to the percentage of the item that is pure gold. Creating alloys composed partly of gold and partly of other, more durable metals gives us the ability to craft more wearable pieces, and every different type of gold is good for various specific uses. Solid goldjewelry is hypoallergenic, and a good option for quality body jewelry.
Gold Plated: When an item is listed as being “gold plated,” that just means that the item is not solid gold. The core, or “base” of such pieces will often be composed of a harder, stronger metal such as surgical grade stainless steel. Then, that metal is coated with a thin layer of lustrous gold, to give it a beautiful finish. This creates the look of real gold, but with greater stability and a lower cost.
Platinum: Many compare platinum to white gold because of its appearance, but they’re actually two quite different metals. Platinum is a very dense heavy metal, with a high resistance to corrosion and wear. It’s high shine, maintains it’s silvery white tone extremely well, and is also the least reactive of all metals. You’ll often see a “900” or “950” labeling associated with it, which is a simple reference to the amount of pure platinum in the jewelry’s alloy, 900 being 90% and 950 of course 95%.
Titanium: Solid titanium items are most often composed of an alloy of pure titanium and other metals or elements, such as aluminum. A “grade” listed with titanium products is a reference to the exact composition and oxygen content of the metal. Grade 5, for example (which can also be referenced as Ti6AL4VELI), is composed of about 90% pure titanium with 6% aluminum, 4% vanadium, and trace amounts of both iron and oxygen. This type of titanium has high tensile strength, can be heat sterilized, and is considered to be hypoallergenic.
Anodized Titanium: Grade 23 titanium is also of high quality, and can be used for both solid titanium pieces and what are called “anodized” titanium items. The word anodized means that the item is plated in titanium, rather than being solid. Much like with gold plated jewelry, anodized titanium pieces are composed of a hard core metal like surgical steel, and a high shine outer coating: in this case, titanium. This also allows for brightly colored jewelry, as titanium can be created in a variety of hues.
For more about jewelry composition and materials, check out the rest of our Body Jewelry Materials category, and stay tuned!