Threaded jewelry uses screw threads for their closures – it has end balls that screw on and off (such as straight, curved or circular barbells, dermals and labret jewelry.) It’s either internally or externally threaded, and when choosing body jewelry, it’s important that you know the difference. Internally threaded product is safer and higher quality than the other.
Internally threaded jewelry has a threaded hole inside the post, and then an external thread protruding from the ball. Externally threaded jewelry has the thread cut into the end of the post, and it’s screwed into a threaded hole in the ball.
With internally threaded jewelry, you have a smooth post passing through your piercing. When inserting externally threaded jewelry, the threads are passing through your piercing, which can feel like a running a small metal file through your body. OUCH!!!
But internal versus external jewelry is not just about comfort. Internally threaded jewelry is way more difficult to manufacture. Imagine the precision needed to machine screws tiny enough to fit inside a 16-gauge post, and then tapping the post to receive them. That’s a helluva lot more work than just cutting screw threads onto a jewelry post. Producers of high-end internally threaded merchandise are way more likely than the bargain-basement guys to use biocompatible materials. Case in point, Chinese-made jewelry pulled off the shelves by the Consumer Products Safety Commission in 2010 included items that had cadmium levels of over 90 percent.
Some companies do make quality pieces with external threading, though it should only be used on well-healed piercings that do not have tight channels. For the most part, however, the inexpensive junk sold in novelty stores and mall kiosks is machine-manufactured in vast quantities, and is rarely hand-finished or inspected. High quality jewelry, like we sell, will cost you much less in regards to your health, which shouldn’t have a price tag anyway!
The upside to threaded jewelry is that the ends can be replaced with jewels, ornamental pieces or spikes (my personal favorite!) Threaded ends can be switched out safely, even while a piercing is healing. The disadvantage is the possibility of an end unscrewing and the jewelry falling out, so check your balls frequently. Or have a friend check ‘em, ‘cause it’s always more fun when someone else checks your balls…