There are two basic types of titanium body jewelry: solid titanium, and anodized or electroplated titanium, which is a hard titanium coating placed over another metal. In most piercing jewelry, an anodized titanium coating will be made over surgical grade stainless steel to add durability and color.
Anodized titanium jewelry is generally made with grade 5 titanium, while solid titanium pieces will be seen in grade 23. What the grading refers to is the composition of the titanium and the percentage of trace metals within it. Both grade 23 titanium and grade 5 titanium are FDA certified hypo-allergenic and approved for use in surgical implants like pins used in the joints, rods inserted along the spine to correct scoliosis, and heart valves. These types of titanium are also used in heavy duty professional high-heat cook wear and in the framing of commercial aircraft, and are resistant to erosion and cracking, even under high pressure.
Titanium coated body jewelry is made by a process called electroplating, in which the solid metal core and a deposit of the coating metal are both placed in a special solution of electrolytes and ions. Once submerged, an electric current of specific voltage is passed through the entire unit (both metals and the solution), causing the coating element to dissolve and forcibly adhere to the base metal. Depending on the voltage of the electric current and thickness of the coating, different colors and durability levels can be created.
Titanium body jewelry is an excellent option for those who are allergic or sensitive to other metals like nickel, or who lead a very active lifestyle, or just enjoy the vivid coloring available. Titanium is scratch resistant, versatile, and a great addition to any jewelry wardrobe.