How to Save Money on Body Jewelry

November 27, 2009

Bargain Box

I’ve looked and looked for a nice jewelry box to put my jewelry and tools in, to no avail.  I wanted a large compartment below to put tools, tapers, etc. in, and all of the “jewelry” boxes I find are too small, too fancy and weird for body jewelry (I’m not putting my barbells in a cherry veneer armoire).  So I found this box at my local Hobby Lobby on sale for 50% off!  Making it a true bargain  box for $2.50.! You can find bargains on body jewelry, too, if you look.

First, a word of warning:

DO NOT compromise on the quality of your initial piercing jewelry, or jewelry to be worn in unhealed or troubled piercings. This includes when you are in the process of stretching.  You are trying to convince your body to heal around a wound, and therefore you need highly polished, well machined simple jewelry from an appropriate material for your new piercing.  This means high  quality stainless steel, titanium, stainless steel, glass (or gold or platinum, but this post is about saving money.)  For your initial jewelry purchase, ask your piercer what brands and grades of piercing jewelry they carry, and buy the best starter jewelry you can afford! This is very important for healing your piercing, and not a place to be cheap!

Well-healed piercings can usually wear a wider variety of body jewelry. In fact, you can spend quite a bit of money collecting wonderful jewelry for all your holes.  I never recommend cheaply made, inferior quality body jewelry, but in stable piercings you can compromise a bit, if you know what to look for.

In honor of Black Friday, here are some ways to save on body jewelry: (Note:  Some of the specific deals and offers described are time limited, so if you come across this blog post much past Black Friday 2009, they will be gone.)

Ask Your Piercer

Your first piece of jewelry should normally be purchased from your piercer.  You should never compromise on quality, nor should you choose a piercer or studio on price.  However, it never hurts to ask if your piercer is offering any special deals or discounts. For instance, some piercing studios will offer a second piercing or jewelry at a discount.  They may have some jewelry they are willing to let go on sale, too.  Studios generally buy they jewelry wholesale and mark them up in accordance with standard business practice.  This gives them a little wiggle room for negotiating.  If you develop a good relationship with your piercer and are a good customer, they may be willing to discount your jewelry a bit–it never hurts to ask.  Don’t be obnoxious about it–remember that jewelry sales can be an important part of a piercing studio’s income (and we want to keep those good studios in business!).

Comparison Shop

Always check different retailers for the item of jewelry you are shopping for, including shipping!  Look for deals on shipping.  This can be tedious and time-consuming, though:  maybe I’ll feature some discounts in future posts to help you out.  Steel Navel and BodyArtForms offer free shipping (via USPS mail) on orders over $25. Many retailers also offer freebies and perks with orders–free o-rings, stickers, gauge cards, and even free jewelry!.  Those gauge cards come in handy, believe me!

Sales, Clearances & Seconds

Most online retailers will have a sale link or bin.  Jewelry seconds are also offered sometimes, particularly by manufacturers.  These seconds may be mis-sized slightly, or have irregularities or imperfections, but they might be all right for your purpose.

Steet Navel has both a Sale page and a Clearance Page. BAF also has a Sale page and a Clearance page. Clearance deals are limited and go fast, but you just might find the perfect jewelry for your hole.

Body Circle Designs frequently has sales.  Right now they are having a “Huge Holiday Sale” offering 20% everything.  They are also offering deals on overstocked items. Body Circle Designs manufactures and sells awesome, super  polished, extremely  high quality jewelry.  Highly recommended!

BodyArtForms is offering 30% off Anatometal Super Gemmed Eyelets through November 30. Great deal on these coveted and rather expensive pieces!

One Tribe runs Current Specials–always worth a look!

Newsletters, Special Offers, and Contests

Sign up for all the retailer newsletters you can.  To varying degrees, these newsletters will have special offers for loyal customers.  Some online retailers reward loyal customers with “points” earned, early discounts, or contests.

The winner in this category has to be Steel Navel; the great people at SN are creative in thinking up special offers and contests for their customers.  They have a ton of free stuff to choose from when ordering.   Contests, Twitter Fridays, and special surprises if you participate in their forums.

Tribe Rewards: From Tribalectic.com.  Earn points by uploading pictures and participating.  100  points=$5 off

BodyArtForms, one of my favorite all purpose retailers, has: “free basic mail shipping on orders over $25 (for jewelry only in the USA & Canada). We offer Free jewelry on orders over $30, 4 free black o-rings, a free gauge/measurement card, and a free BAF sticker.”  BAF is also running a Print Ad Contest for a $250 jewelry prize.

Used Body Jewelry

People do sell or trade their body jewelry.  As people go up or down in gauge, retire their piercings, or just need to clean out their jewelry box, they put their used body jewelry up for sale.  I myself would never purchase used body jewelry in acrylic, wood, or organic materials that could not be sterilized in an autoclave, though, and I would take any used jewelry to my piercer for autoclaving first.  (Please keep in mind there’s a difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing, and protect yourself!)  Steel Navel offers Classified Ads for forum members.  Other sites may have special boards where people discuss trading, bartering, or selling used body jewelry.

Discount Retailers

Type in “save money on body jewelry” and you’re likely to get a score of cheap ads and marketing come ons.  You can find all the inexpensive “belly rings” and acrylic jewelry you want.  You can save money buying cheaply made, imported jewelry by shopping discount retailers, or buying from mall shops, Wal-Mart, etc. You can save money by shopping Ebay–maybe.  I personally don’t buy this kind of stuff unless it’s for limited wear in healed piercings or emergency replacement jewelry. Keep in mind there’s a lot of cheap crap on the market, of uncertain grade and poor finishing.  If it looks cheap, and the price is too good to be true, consider it second tier jewelry; that is, not to be worn long-term or in new or healig piercings.

As you can see, my bargain jewelry box has plenty of room for tools and –oh! Shh!  Someone’s sleeping!

Note:  I am not affiliated with or compensated by any of the jewelry retailers mentioned.

fin

Advertisements

Earrings for Sensitive Ears

November 15, 2009

girl 3640029792_f640a5ee98_m

Do you have trouble wearing earrings?  Do they make your earlobes sore and itchy? Have you given up? Try body jewelry!

This pretty little girl (who belongs to mhowry’s photostream at Flickr) is beaming because she just got her ears pierced.  But could her jewelry be making her  vulnerable to a nickel allergy, or even lead poisoning?  Nickel allergies, a type of contact dermatitis,  are on the rise. It can develop immediately, or over time.  Jewelry worn in or against the body, especially earrings, is often cited as the cause.  According to the Mayo Clinic:

Nickel allergy is commonly associated with earrings and jewelry for other body piercings. But nickel can be found in many everyday items — from coins to necklace clasps, from watchbands to eyeglass frames.

The little girl pictured above probably got her ears pierced at the mall with a gun, and will be wearing lots of cute, inexpensive earrings of the type found in every accessory store.  Putting aside the problems associated with healing such a piercing with the typical crappy aftercare provided, because I’ve talked about them before, there are problems associated with the composition of the earrings themselves.  Even if the piercing heals and everything seems fine, after years of wearing this type of jewelry, anyone can develop an allergy to the metal.  I have talked to many women who lament not being able to wear earrings anymore, because their bodies have become sensitized to them.  Dealing with the pain, redness, bumps, and blisters that can result from nickel allergies can be disheartening, to say the least.  Such pierced ears can become infected, or abandoned and left to close up.

It’s all about the jewelry.

What are you putting in your ears? Most commercial earrings are made with low quality stainless steel, sterling silver, or gold filled posts or wires, all of which contain other metals as alloys.  Silver and gold must be alloyed to make them hard enough to be workable, and jewelers like using nickel because it makes the findings hard and non-porous.   Jewelry findings can be plated in rhodium or gold, which can flake and wear  off. Gold-filled earring wires are plated, eventually wearing off to expose the base metal  below.   Silver is not an appropriate metal to wear in anything but well-healed, happy pierced ears, because it tarnishes. Even gold jewelry can cause problems; 14k jewelry is only 14 parts gold to 10 parts alloyed metal.   Some jurisdictions have addressed jewelry quality with legislation.  The European Union banned all nickel in jewelry sold there since 2000, and  concerns about lead found in children’s jewelry prompted California to pass a similar law.

Be skeptical of jewelry industry claims! Even so-called “hypoallergenic jewelry” may not be. “Surgical stainless steel” is an empty term created as a marketing term by the jewelry industry.  (There are various grades of stainless steel; the best stainless steel body jewelry is manufactured to contain any nickel so it doesn’t come into contact with the skin.) These are the same people who promote the use of an implement derived from cattle tagging that inflicts blunt force trauma wounds (i.e., piercing guns).

jewelry 3335113193_9d01c50082_m

An alternative to try. On the other hand, jewelry made for body piercing enthusiasts is specifically designed for optimum healing and long-term wear in the body.  Quality body jewelry in a small gauge made from implant grade stainless steel, titanium, niobium, 14k or 18k gold not containing nickel, and some high-tech plastics are excellent for wearing in lobes.  Young children and people who cannot wear other types of earrings should take a look at some of the body piercing jewelry out there. Titanium is an especially good choice, because very few people react to it, it’s readily available and relatively inexpensive, and comes in un colors! Regular pierced ears are usually 20 gauge or 18 gauge, and you can buy such jewelry online without having to step foot in a tattoo or piercing studio. Take a look at some of these choices from reputable online dealers:

cbr sn TCBR_TBD_135Try a titanium captive bead ring from Steel Navel.  These Industrial Strength CBRs are high quality, and come in plain silver colored (polish) or anodized in host of colors.  They come in as small as 18 gauge, and 1/4 inch.  The anodized colors will come off in time, and those little beads can be really difficult to deal with, so how about:

Tribe is-fixedbeadring-ss_1181_general

Stainless steel fixed bead rings from Tribalectic. They come in 20 and 18 gauge and are made of high quality, implant grade stainless steel.  These  have a very low chance of causing allergic reactions, and you won’t lose the bead.

Neometal_barbellFor a cutting-edge alternative, you could try a Neometal titanium press-fit barbell from BodyArtForms. You can buy various ends for these little beauties, which you simply push in.

More suggestions for happy earlobes:

This type of jewelry can be a little fiddly to get in and out (a friend with a good eye and a steady hand can  help) but is meant to be worn for long periods of time.  If you find something your ears are happy with, don’t change the jewelry too often. While healing, do not use alcohol, “ear-care solution,” hydrogen peroxide, Bactine, Neosporin, or anything other than a mild salt-water solution, and do not twist the jewelry. Leave the jewelry in, and wash your ears and the jewelry with mild soap and water in the shower.  Dry them well. (For more information on basic aftercare, see my Body Piercing Basics page.)

Don’t be afraid of exploring the world of body jewelry for earrings you can wear if your lobes are sensitive. Take a look through some of these retailers’ catalogs for rings, barbells, and other shapes.  They sell gold, titanium, and stainless steel body jewelry that’s worth a try.

Mayo Clinic Page on Nickel Allergy

State of California page on lead in jewelry ban

News article on lead in children’s jewelry

Pic of various jewelry from Ryheen’s Photostream at Flickr.

fin


Nipple Piercings and the Long Haul

September 6, 2009

nipple copper 365445888_adc31ad146_m

As I said in the last post, nipple piercings are great all around body piercings.  (Note:  this is “part 2”– see previous post for more general info.) True to the old piercing adage, “If It Protrudes, Pierce It,” they stick out, are conveniently located for admiration and play, enhance sensuality and sensation–what’s not to like? But:

  • Nipples are slow and fussy healers. They take a long time to heal, and are prone to flare ups and crusties,even years after being pierced.

Nipples, navels, and cartilage piercings are probably the ones that take longest to heal.  Out of these, nipple piercings  seem to be the ones that really act up for the longest time.  Nipples are constantly changing shape; swelling, erecting, and relaxing with changes in temperature and arousal. This puts stress on a fresh wound with a foreign object in it.   Nipples reflect what is going on in the body and react to hormones, menstrual cycles, and health.  So perhaps it’s no wonder that the healing process can seem to go on forever.

With nipple piercings, you may experience:

–Healing to take a year or more; with the third stage of healing (toughening) to take a few more years.  (Review the stages of healing here.)

–Crusties possibly throughout the life of your piercing, apparently healed or not.  (“Crusties” are dried lymph and dead skill cells exuded by a healing piercing, which dry sharp and crusty on your jewelry.)

–Regular flare ups with menstrual cycles; and flare ups related to stress or illness.

–Frustration because they shouldn’t be played with during healing; or even relationship problems.  (Whose boobs are they?)  Healing nipple piercings should not come into contact with bodily fluids, lest they become infected.  Review how to have safer sex with piercings here.

The Bling Problem

Here’s another tip:  Nipple piercings don’t really like jewelry changes. The flesh tube in a nipple seems to be especially delicate in comparison with some other piercings, and reacts negatively to rough handling, excessive movement, and removal and insertion of jewelry.  Externally threaded jewelry (which has sharp threads being pushed through the piercing) is never a good idea in nipples.  Furthermore, jewelry tends to sit tightly in the flesh tube, which can shrink rapidly upon removal.  If you are planning to change your own jewelry, an appropriate taper and lube are advised.

I cannot tell you how many sob stories I have heard about nipples rejecting, migrating, or simply being too sore and fussy for comfort.  It’s really a shame, because healed nipple piercings are a treasure.  An abandoned nipple piercing is a sad, sad thing! In my opinion, most of these problems can be traced to improper jewelry considerations:  Wrong size, wrong material, or simply changing too often or too soon.

I hear stories about guys who take jewelry out of their fresh nipple piercings daily for soccer practice, and then they wonder why they won’t heal.  I recently saw a post about  pretty new nipple jewelry, with a picture of some very small diameter rings with gems.  Pretty indeed, but these were only 6-week old piercings, the diameter of the ring looked too small to me for comfort, and the jewelry itself did not look like good quality.  I predict an unhappy experience for this lady who may have sacrificed her lovely piercings to impatience.  Therefore:

Clouds #1 tip for happy nipple piercings is:

Make sure you have a well-fitting, premium quality piece of body jewelry in your new nipple piercing, preferably a straight titanium barbell, and leave it there for at least a year!

ti barbell 19-TBB-TB_400

Although I wear premium stainless steel barbells in mine, many of my friends report that switching to titanium has eliminated crusties and helped calm their piercings down overall.   By well-fitting, I mean that a ring’s diameter should be large enough for the part that passes through the nipple to be almost straight; or that a barbell should fit with just a little bit clearance on either side of the nipple, and the balls should not be pushed into the flesh tunnel or otherwise create a problem.  Sometimes adjustments need to be made after being pierced, so a visit back to your piercer may be in order.  As always in piercing, one size does NOT fit all, so a good piercer can order individual bars or balls to suit your anatomy.  But once you have a nice piece in there, leave it alone!

Patience with this piercing is critical.  This does present a problem for those of us eyeing those cool nipple shields or  pretty dangly/sparkly  nipple jewelry.  As always we are tempted, but we must resist!  Do not change jewelry for at least one year, and maybe more if you continue to experience unhappy nipples.  Realize that most of this type of jewelry is not meant for long-term wear, only “special occasion” wear.  And refer to the above “nipples don’t like jewelry changes.”

shield 38-NPTR5_400

Some more details to consider:

Male nipples are smaller, and may take less time to heal than female nipples. Male nipples are usually pierced into the areola.

–There are a lot of variables in size and shape, particularly in female breasts (for which there are a lot of thankful people out there); but this needs to be considered.  There’s no reason that really big breasts or big nipples; or conversely, really small nipples can’t be pierced, as long as, as Elayne Angel says, they are pliable and can be pinched up.

–You can breastfeed with pierced nipples, although for safety’s sake, usually the jewelry must be removed. You must also remove all jewelry for a mammogram.

Sea salt soaks can be a boon to pissy nipples–long flesh tunnels can trap hair, dead skin, and other debris that can be drawn out with salt soaks.  Frequent crusties must be soaked and cleaned off–frequently!

–One of the more serious consequences of a piercing gone wrong is an infection in the tissue of the female breast.  If you suspect an infection which is not responding to soaks or lasts more than a week or two, see a medical professional immediately.

–Although not as prominent as you may think, the jewelry can show through clothing, especially with thin, light colored clothing and large jewelry.  If this is a concern, minimize the profile of your jewelry as much as you can without compromising fit or healing (e.g., choose smaller balls),  pad your clothing with layers or padded bras/inserts, and break up the effect by wearing dark clothing/patterns.  And if your boss is staring at your nipples at work, you need to get a new job anyway!

–Nipple piercings may not be compatible with active sports or some lifestyles.  We  piercees couldn’t much help the guy who had to wear body armor for work, for example.  Some women swear by tight-fitting sports bras for support during the healing period (although I prefer no bras and no pressure on the piercing).

–Pierced nipples can “develop,” that is, grow larger in response to being pierced.  Not only does the insertion of the jewelry raise the profile, but the nipple can actually grow.  Although it’s not true that pierced nipples are always erect, they can become more prominent permanently, but how much is impossible to predict.  This seems to be a concern especially for men.

–For technical details on placement and sizing of jewelry, consult a good piercer or the The Piercing Bible, by Elayne Angel, as always (and all this stuff is in there anyway, so where’s your copy?)

So, is all this worth it?

Oh, Yes!  Yes,  yes!,  . . . well, you get the idea.  A well healed, perfectly placed nipple piercing is a thing of beauty, a joy to touch, and a source of potentially life-long pleasure. Pierced in a suitably sturdy gauge and well-toughened, they can withstand a good deal of rough play.  It is discrete and a perfect piercing for older or professional piercees.  It is well worth the extra care and patience to heal!

If you are interested, my 8-month old  nipple piercing (described here) is still in the second stage of healing, I think.  Although it is doing well, it is still sore occasionally, and benefits from intermittent soaking. My vertical nipple piercing, which is about (thinks) 5 years old has never given me any problem, has toughened up nicely, and has made my nipple very happy!

What are  you waiting for? Find a good piercer and do it!

fin

The copper nipple pictured above is from Ctd 2005’s photostream at Flickr.

Stock jewelry pics are from Steel Navel, with permission.


Just don’t call ’em “earrings”

August 10, 2009

plugs-1-100_1637

New Jewelry!

In celebration of my new 6 gauge status, I of course needed new jewelry to fit.  here are some pics of my new bling.  The first, pictured above, is a pair of Industrial Strength single-flare  titanium plugs. You know, the kind that you have to pre-order, and decide what combination to get.  There are so many–so many colors of titanium, and gems to choose from!  It can be hard to visualize what the combinations look like.  I decided to get yellow titanium, because I wanted something that was not silver (or black); and get AB gems (aurora borealis); you can see the result.  The end part (that is visible in front) is a bit chunkier and sticks out farther from my ear than I expected. They are a bit gaudy, and girly, but that’s okay.  Nice to wear to work, when I want to wear gold-toned jewelry with my outfit.  You can see all the possible color combinations here at BodyartForms.

plugs-2-100_1634-copy

Next is a pair of Anatometal 6-gauge single flare steel tunnels (or eyelets).  As always with Anatometal, the finish is smooth, shiny, and flawless (which you can’t tell from the crappy picture–sorry).  Tunnels are always fun, because you can see daylight.  These are lightweight, comfortable, and good for stretching, should I ever decide to go bigger.  Here’s the linky to Bodyartforms.

plugs-3-100_1643-copy

One odd thing about these two pieces of 6 gauge jewelry–the IS pieces are noticeably thicker, both to the eye, and to my calipers when I measured them.  There’s a very slight–maybe 1 millimeter?–difference.  This surprised me, since I thought the gauges related to a specific measurement, and Anatometal and Industrial Strength are two of the leaders in making quality body jewelry.  I’m not sure why there would be a difference, but there is.  My ears didn’t seem to care, though.

BTW, the IS colored/gem plugs were “pre-order”–I guess they make them up on the spot after ordering and payment. They took about 10 days to ship, which I don’t think is unreasonable at all.

“Earrings” just sounds so wussy and mainstream, don’t you think? It’s body jewelry! They don’t come in pairs.  They are plugs, or tunnels, or eyelets, or spirals, or barbells, or . . .

fin


Nifty Visualization Tricks

July 15, 2009

ruler

What size jewelry to get? That’s a pretty common question faced by piercees who are looking to replace or upgrade their jewelry.  Unfortunately, it’s a tough question, because:

a) We’ve forgotten what size we had in the first place; and

b) Sizes are complicated, and weird, and in fractions!;  and those little pieces of jewelry are fiddley; and

c) I can’t visualize distances anyway, because I’m a gurrrl.

So, here are a couple of things to try.  First–the humble ruler.  If you can’t remember whether 1/8″ is bigger than 5/16″ –dig your ruler out of your drawer.  Alternatively, most online body jewelry retailers have charts and helpful sizing info, as well as sending you out a handy gauge card with your order.  I keep my gauge card near my computer to make it easier to order jewelry.  (Is that a bad sign?)

plug chart

Here’s a lovely little page I stumbled across on Steel Navel. I think it very clearly shows the difference in gauge (a measurement of thickness based on wire measurement).  For those of us who are spatially challenged, you can find the real page on Steel Navel here.

There’s also the Steel Skin compact disc-calibrated slidey thing. Slidey thing, you say?  (Okay, fine.  “Dynamic Size Chart.”) Check it out here!


Mirror, Mirror

May 3, 2009

shorties-2-093

Little Seven Spirals

New jewelry again! I got my new pair of Little Seven “shortys.” I show them above along with my Little Seven swan spirals, to show the difference in size (the shorty is on the left). These are 8 gauge pieces.  I love the spirals,  but they are heavy, and a little over the top for work.  The shortys I can wear all week without discomfort, and they are just right for work.  Very nice!

Little Seven is a company that makes beautifully crafted hanging spiral jewelry.  There’s a great picture of their wares on their website here:  Little Seven.

The Mirror Finish

One of the reasons why I’m really loving my Little Seven jewelry is the  finish.  The APP jewelry specs specify a “mirror finish” for initial piercing jewelry.  Why?  Because well manufactured, highly polished jewelry is free from nicks, burrs, etc. which can irritate your piercing. (See my post, Body Jewelry: The Least You Need to Know.)

The Piercing Bible describes it like this:

When jewelry has an uneven surface, the new cells that are formed during healing grow into the irregularities.  Then, when the jewelry shifts or moves, these areas tear.  As this cycle is repeated, scar tissue forms and healing is delayed.  A faulty finish can also introduce bacteria into the wound and cause infection.  (p. 79)

Ouch!  This is one reason why cheap body piercing jewelry Is Not Good! It takes a lot of hand-polishing to get the finish this smooth, and of course that translates into a higher cost. But it’s worth it!

You will have no fear of that problem with any of the Little Seven products.  The finish is not only “mirror,” but satiny smooth to the touch and sensual.  Your fingers just want to slide around the swirls and spirals of the jewelry like fondling a worry stone.

shorties-getattachment

Here’s a pic of what the shorty looks like on.  I tried to get a pic to show the way the two pieces are reverse images of each other . . . but my face kept getting in the way!  You can buy Little Seven jewelry from fine piercing studios and a variety of online retailers.  I got mine from the good folks at Steel Navel.

fin


Making Body Jewelry

February 19, 2009

I found this on squidoo, an instructional site.  It’s an interesting pictoral/article entitled, “How Organic Body Jewelry is Made,” which is a somewhat misleading title as it basically refers mostly to horn jewelry made from water buffalo horn, as well as some wood pieces.

horn-1-nee061

The article is  produced by a company called Siam Intercontinental Handcrafts.  I know nothing about this business, other than they wrote a very nice article.  And apparently sell body jewelry.  Still, the article goes step by step into how they make their jewelry, which is quite interesting.

horn-2-uditt061

Step 5  After the piece has taken on the correct shape and approximate size the hand sanding and hand polishing is begun. Different grades of sand paper are used starting with 120 grit, then 240 through 360 and 600 grit. After the piece has become very smooth we hand polish it using natural bees wax with a small amount of sand added and a strip of natural cotton cloth. The cotton strip is tied to a point at one end and the jewelry is rubbed back and forth along the length of cotton until a high luster is achieved.

Be sure to read the entire article, here.  The pics above belong to Siam Intercontinental Handcrafts, not me.

I was going to do a nifty compare-and-contrast thing here, because there was a great little instructional page on how to machine a steel barbell.  But I can’t find it anymore.  If anyone has a link to that, please let me know.