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Published Thursday, October 12, 2023

Common Jewelry Terms Explained

Ever come across terms like hypoallergenic, surgical steel, or ASTM f-136 and felt lost? You're not alone! We're here to demystify these terms for you. We're breaking down common jewelry terms to aid your search for the perfect piece.


Starting off with hypoallergenic, a word you've likely heard before, and not just in the realm of jewelry. It means the chances of the item causing an allergic reaction are quite low because it contains minimal to no common allergens. Specifically for body jewelry, it often indicates little to no nickel content.

"Surgical" Steel

Next up, surgical steel. Sounds safe, right? Be cautious as there's no formal standard for what qualifies as surgical steel. It doesn't mean it's unsafe, but it's not a guarantee of a particular quality or grade.

Official Steel Grades

So, what should you look for? 316L steel is a common and generally safe choice, characterized by its low carbon content and corrosion-resistant elements. Another option is 316 LVM ASTM f-138 Steel, a higher grade used by premium body jewelry brands. The initials VM stand for vacuum melt, denoting increased purity and corrosion resistance, making it suitable for medical use and ideal for sensitive skin.


Similarly, titanium follows a grading system and can be autoclaved, making it body safe. Many even prefer titanium over steel for its lightweight, ability to be anodized, and nickel-free composition. Note that quality does come at a higher price.

Sterling Silver and .925 Silver

Wondering about silver? Sterling silver and .925 silver are identical, comprised of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other alloys, making it more robust than pure silver.


When it comes to gold, it's measured in karats. While 24K is pure gold, you might find 14K gold more durable for everyday wear.


Summing It Up

In the world of body jewelry, terms and grading systems can indeed be overwhelming. However, understanding these can make your jewelry search smoother and more successful. Remember to check for terms like hypoallergenic, evaluate the metal grades, and choose according to your body's compatibility and preference.

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