In today's age of experimentation with body art, the issue seems not to be 'to pierce or not to pierce', but what to pierce and how many times. Material selection for body piercing jewellery is just one of a number of factors influencing the successful and safe enjoyment of body piercing.
While a variety of hypo-allergenic materials are used for body piercing, including titanium, niobium and solid 14K gold, the predominant material used for initial piercings in Australia is grade 316L stainless steel. 316L is used for its aesthetic appeal, its ease of fabrication and, most importantly, its established position as an inert and acceptable material for surgical implantation.
Several standards exist for the specification of stainless steel for surgical implants, some of which can be used as a reference point for the manufacture of body piercing jewellery, eg: ASTM F138 Standard specifications for stainless steel bar and wire for surgical implants (special quality) and ISO 5832-1 Implants for surgery - Metallic materials - Part 1: Wrought stainless steel. There is no standard which specifically covers materials for body piercing jewellery. Piercers should, however, check state health regulations and seek medical advice on health aspects of the piercing process.
For further information on the use of stainless steel for body piercing jewellery, contact ASSDA.