Gem-set Jewelry Experiment FAIL

You’ve all probably seen horror stories about rusty jewelry or “titanium” jewelry that turns out to be cheap steel that was painted, revealed with the colour peels off. But this jewelry comparison is more subtle, the difference not between high quality and garbage, but more like the difference between high quality and mid-range “meh” jewelry that might not instantly set off alarm bells. A.J. Goldman took some “expensive” jewelry and some cheap jewelry (not that either of these will break the bank) and put them both in a saline bath for the weekend. Both bars had the same sparkling clear stones when the experiment started. The saline should have basically zero effect on the jewelry, and thankfully it didn’t seem to alter or damage either bar (one being stainless and the other titanium), but what did happen is the gems in the cheaper jewelry turned dull and discolored. The most likely explanation is the cheap foil-backed “gems” they used, or even the epoxy used to set them, reacting to the saline. The quality jewelry uses gems that are held in place by the metal’s shape itself, so there is no foil backing or epoxy to discolour.


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Think about how long the jewelry is going to be in your body — and the fact that you’re getting the piercing to enhance your body. If you’re not willing to spend that extra $10 or $20 to do it right, is it really worth doing? What is it saying about what you think of your body when you put low-quality tarnished or dulled or discoloured crap in yourself? From my point of view, it is better to wait a little longer until you can afford top-notch jewelry, and wear something that will look beautiful for the life of the piercing. There is nothing worse than getting a body modification that you thought would be a thing of beauty, only to be betrayed by it because someone decided to cut-corners on the jewelry to save or make a few dollars.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

2 thoughts on “Gem-set Jewelry Experiment FAIL

  1. Out of curiosity, what was the price difference between the two? If I’m buying something which I plan to wear a lot, I’ll get the high quality, name brand jewelry. If I’m buying something which I’ll only wear occasionally or as costume jewelry, I’ll generally get something less expensive (but still implant grade metal / glass / horn / otherwise safe to wear).

    For example, the 7 ear plugs to make my ear piercings a bit less . . . immediately visible . . . during job interviews and such are implant grade stainless steel and cheap artificial crystals. The captive bead rings I wear in them normally are Anatometal implant grade titanium. For something like that, a $20 price difference per item is $140, for something I’ll wear maybe 40 hours out of the year.

  2. I have some ‘cheap’ jewelry I wear ‘on occasions’ maybe once every 2 or 3 months to match an outfit or look more sophisticated for an interview or funeral or something… but this is an eye opener for sure. Surgical steel is a staple for me

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