Proper Aftercare of Coated and Plated Body Jewelry
Posted by Ann P on
In recent years, coated and plated body jewelry has become popular in the culture of pierced and modified individuals because the processes used offer more vivid color options than the traditional look of common base metals.
It’s a fact that plated and coated jewelry materials require special care and cleaning. Some of the outer layers may peel, chip away, crack off, or break down over time as a result of your jewelry being in contact with moisture and heat generated by your own body. Plated and coated jewelry are not recommended for wear in initial or healing piercings.
The types of coated and plated jewelry we have available include:
Both ceramic and enamel coatings provide your body jewelry with a shine that can be maintained for a long time and both materials are durable and hard to scratch.
Enamel coated body jewelry comes in a unique range of colors. It is very smooth and feels comfortable to wear in pretty much any piercing, so it is commonly used in areas like lip piercings and ear piercings. It will hold up better to moisture than other coated or plated items as well.
Ceramic coated body jewelry offers high shine and plenty of colorful options. The ceramic used in this type of coating is the same type of ceramic material used on industrial tools and as a heat guard in space shuttles. It can still be chipped if dropped or banged up against other objects, especially jewelry, so you should store ceramic plated items separate from your other jewelry.
Electroplating is a process that coats an object with a thin layer of metal, giving the plating its color and brightness. Plating on jewelry that is frequently worn will eventually dull and fade depending on the quality of the plating (thickness), the wearer’s body chemistry, and the surrounding environment (air quality and humidity).
Physical vapor deposition (PVD) is a vacuum deposition technique where metal is vaporized into an atmosphere that consists of partly ionized gasses and then, atom by atom, the metal is transitioned from its solid phase into its vapor phase and then back into its solid phase, building a film over the jewelry’s surface. It is most frequently encountered as an outer coating over titanium or stainless steel body jewelry and can be used in an autoclave or steam sterilization treatments. PVD coatings offer high durability and wear resistance as well as resistance to discoloration, tarnishing, high corrosion, and UV radiation.
Ion plating (IP) is a physical vapor deposition (PVD) process that allows jewelry coating to bond with the stainless steel that is usually used beneath it. Ion plating is more durable, more wear resistant, and also provides higher brightness than traditional methods of plating jewelry. The process involves adding a titanium nitrade layer to the component being plated and then applying an extremely thin layer of gold. After that, at a very low pressure, solid metal vaporizes and becomes electric ions. Ion plating uses concurrent or periodic bombardment of these energetic particles on the metal to create the layer of coating.
Anodized body jewelry is created through a process in which an electrical current is applied to the metal that changes the way the surface of metal refracts light, which results in a coated layer of color. In most jewelry, an anodized titanium coating will be made over surgical grade stainless steel. The interference of light reflecting off the oxide layer reflecting off the metal beneath it is what determines the color you see.
Because body jewelry is worn inside a wound and is in contact with your internal tissues, only certain products are safe to use at first. The look of the jewelry that is placed in your fresh piercing must be secondary to choices that affect compatibility with your body. Remember that the location of your piercing is fixed, but the jewelry can be changed after it has fully healed.
The material of jewelry used in a healing piercing:
- Should be able to withstand the heat and pressure of autoclave sterilization.
- Should be inert and compatible with the body so it doesn’t cause irritation, allergy, or infection.
You should be wary when choosing body jewelry made from plated or coated jewelry because the outer layer can rub or chip off, exposing the base metal underneath, which can lead to irritation or infection of the piercing site.
Any type of coated or plated jewelry has the possibility to fade and chip over time. The chances of this happening to your jewelry is increases by a number of factors such as wearing it in an oral piercing due to saliva resulting in a reaction with the material.
Additionally, the oxidation of metal (more commonly referred to as tarnishing) is when you can visually see signs of an item turning black (oxidizing) after wearing it. If you skin turns a color such as green or black, this is also a sign of tarnishing and alerts you to the likely presence of nickel in the jewelry. To slow this natural process, store your silver plated jewelry in airtight containers or bags.
Remember that your body is unique and you could experience reactions to materials that create no issues for your friends.
The proper methods to clean body jewelry, especially plated and coated jewelry, include:
To clean your jewelry, just use standard antibacterial soap with warm water. This is an especially important rule to remember when cleaning body jewelry that is made from acrylic material because it can crack or dissolve when exposed to harsh chemical cleaning agents such as alcohol or peroxide.
H2Ocean Spray is the most effective product helping cleanse and heal all your body piercings. It contains ingredients that are natural to your body and aid in healing.
Arctic Ocean Rinse is formulated with all natural ingredients to heal new oral piercings and maintain existing oral piercings. This exclusive blend works great for your teeth and gums to develop a healthy clean mouth.
Dr. Piercing’s Aftercare Swab Pack is developed exclusively for the care and cleaning of piercings and is conveniently packaged using advanced technology for easy, sanitary application.
Skin issues around new piercing sites often occur from the type of cleansers or soaps being used, and not due to the jewelry itself. Always make sure you’re using an appropriate cleanser and you’re rinsing your piercing site off thoroughly following cleaning.
If the jewelry itself becomes an irritant, remove it immediately and replace it with something more biocompatible such as solid titanium or Bioplast. You can try again when the piercing is fully healed. If any irritation occurs this second time, discard the jewelry and avoid wearing body jewelry made from that metal or material.
What should be avoided with coated or plated body jewelry includes:
- harsh chemicals (ie. alcohol)
- exposure to bodily fluids
- long exposure to liquids such as water
- wearing in initial piercings
- wearing in infected or healing piercings
- wearing in oral piercings
Have the gems in your body jewelry lost their sparkle?
Exposure to certain fragrances or perfumes, cosmetics, or perspiration can cause the stones in your body jewelry to cloud up and lose their beautiful sparkle. Glued on gems can also be damaged or displaced if you use harsh chemicals on your jewelry. The stones of your jewelry can also be cleaned, but make sure to confirm with the information available on the cleaner that it is safe to use for the type of decoration you’re cleaning.
If you are still unsure of cleaning your jewelry ask your local jeweler or professional piercer to clean them or to advise you of a proper method you can implement yourself.
Looking for further information on taking care of piercings and other aftercare information? Check out our blog category on piercings and aftercare to learn more and become an expert in maintaining your perfect piercing.