Conditions of Use
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Wood: Frequently Asked Questions

We do not accept any organic jewelry (wood) back unless jewelry is damaged in shipping or there is an error on our part with your order.

· If you find a design that you would like in a size that is not listed, please let us know and we will see what we can do.

· There is no guarantee that the design and size you like will be in stock, so we recommend that with your purchase you include a second and third option in the comments box if you want to receive wood jewelry rapidly. If you list alternative jewelry options please list the title of the jewelry exactly as it is listed online as well as the size you would like to receive. We will contact you to let you know what is readily available out of the options you’ve selected.

· With Bloodwood jewelry, the first few times the jewelry is washed some red may wash off of the wood, this is normal and does not affect the color or the longevity of the color of the wood.

· Woods do not react the same with everyone. Some people have allergic reactions to certain types of wood. Ebony, Bloodwood, and Coconut Wood rarely trigger allergic reactions and in our experience are the safest to use. If you do have a reaction to a type of wood immediately remove the jewelry, signs of a reaction include itchiness, burning, swollen lymph nodes, blistering and lymph discharge. It is not reasonable for us to predict nor are we (Kolo Body Arts Inc.) liable for any reaction to wood jewelry.

· An advantage of wood jewelry is its ability to absorb your natural oils and sweat, this will reduce the “funk factor” you may have experienced with metal or glass jewelry.

Care Instructions

· Do Not Autoclave.
· Do not soak in anything, including water.
· Clean Before wearing. Use antibacterial soap and water. Rinse and dry immediately after washing.
· Do not leave in direct sunlight for extended periods.
· Do not store in extreme temperatures or the bathroom.
· Remove jewelry before bathing or swimming as water can cause premature drying and cracking.
· Recommended for healed piercings only.
· Recondition once a month with natural oil. We recommend coconut oil.

A Guide to Hardwoods for the Piercing Community

With the proliferation of wood jewelry manufacturers on the market, Esoteric Body, Organic, and Spectrum Craft have been working in partnership to study various chemical compositions of individual hardwoods and their effects on the human body, in hopes to provide you with some information that could assist you in your wood jewelry selection. Over the past few years we have undertaken extensive research on wearable hardwoods and have found numerous woods not to be suitable. These potentially harmful species have documented medical reactions that may result in contact dermatitis. We're not talking about respiratory reactions to sawdust, but rather skin reactions due to direct contact with the wood. It amazes us that jewelry manufacturers don't take the responsibility to research their products before they offer them to you the public. This message is not intended to inflame nor is it directed to any specific manufacturing companies, but rather we hope for it to be an aid to you and a guide with which you can use to navigate the vast jewelry market. We just felt the need to pass along information that we have gathered as we hope it could prevent hardwood jewelry enthusiasts from having an unnecessarily bad experience with wood. We encourage you to undertake your own research, to find your own answers. There is so much information out there. We caution you not to believe a product is safe just because someone offers it to the public. Many manufacturers pick their woods because they are pretty but often they know little about the wood itself. There are many wearable woods out there that are very safe, but unfortunately there are many more hardwood species that are simply not safe to wear. It’s up to you to be informed about what it is you are buying.

Health Concerns

Wood jewelry is one of the most comfortable and grounding materials we have available to us. With the ever-increasing amount of suppliers trying to break into the wood jewelry market, it has become a necessity to supply the industry with this helpful guide to safer wood products. While most of the research available to woodworkers is a good starting point, it was not designed as a guide to wearable woods. The problem being is that the research is specific to wood dust and not the actual skin contact with the wood. Wood dust produces an extremely large amount of surface area, which has the potential to produce much more extreme reactions than exposure to the amount of surface area that is in contact with the skin in the case of wearable wood.

Only 2% to 5% of the population will develop an allergic sensitivity to one or more compounds found in wood. Contact dermatitis from timbers is usually attributable to contamination of the skin during machining. Handling of solid wood rarely induces dermatitis, however any species that contains quinones, especially Dalbergia species, may do so. (Calnan 1972).

After lengthy research we have put together this guide to help educate both you the wearer and hopefully some of the manufacturers producing potentially dangerous products.

Interestingly, most research seems to be reported based on only a few case studies, many of which go back up to 100 years and these results are not obtained by clinical studies with large sample groups. However, these isolated cases should not be dismissed; they are very interesting in showing patterns of cross-sensitivities, and many have been accompanied by positive patch tests from extracts of the offending compounds.

“The structural components of wood are sellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, but it is the accessory sub stances or “extractives” found mainly in the heartwood that are responsible for most toxic effects. Vorreiter (1949/1958) classifies these as follows: (1) fats, resins, oils, and waxes ; (2) proteins, gums, latex, mucus, starch, and sugars ; (3) alkaloids, bitter principles, dyes, tannins, glycosides, camphor, perfumes, etc. ; (4) inorganic and organic acids and salts ; (5) minerals.”

“some of these act as food reserves for latent growth periods, some as hardening agents, and others protect against mechanical injuries or attack by bacteria, fungi, insects and larger animals (Dietrichs, 1958). Some are metabolic by-products or end-products of no apparent use to the tree.”

Toxic Substances


The culprit behind these allergies is a group of chemicals called quinones, naturally occurring compounds, often used to make dyes. The quinones are produced as defensive agents against fungal and predator attacks (including me, the woodworker and you, the collector). Quinones play a major role in allergic contact dermatitis caused by plants.

The primary allergens are benzoquinones or naphthoquinones but also compounds, such as catechols, coumarins, and other phenolic or flavonoid compounds, which are bioconverted into ortho-quinones or para-quinones. Catechol is a main constituent of urushiol, which is the allergen in poison ivy.

It is possible that once sensitized to one of these quinones that cross reactions to similar quinones and/or structures can develop. Included at the bottom of this page is a list of some of the more popular woods that are not suitable to wear.


Other Compounds

Some of the other compounds that are known to cause harmful responses include: alkaloids and glycosides (systemic effects, pharmacological rather than allergic), saponins (effective through broken skin only), phenols (the strongest skin-sensitizers, especially the catechols of the poison ivy family), stilbenes (which occur in allergenic woods, but only chlorophorin and coniferyl benzoate are known to sensitize), tarpenes (including delta-3-carene from turpentine, sesquiterpene lactones and other sensitizing liverworts found on bark, and euphorbol and other complex terpenes on uncertain toxicity found in the latex of Euphorbiaceae), furocourmarins (photosensitizing and may be partly responsible for skin reactions but has yet to be proved), and dalbergiones (severe skin irritants).


The hazardous forms that may give rise to health risks are:

“The main effect is irritation. An irritant is something that can cause inflammation or irritation. This can be caused by skin contact with the wood, its dust, its bark, its sap, or even lichens growing on the bark. Irritation can, in some species of wood, lead to nettle rashes or irritant dermatitis. These effects tend to appear on the forearm, backs of the hands, the face (particularly eyelids) neck, scalp and the genitals. On average, they take 15 days to develop, but have been known to occur in a few hours to many months. Symptoms usually only persist as long as the affected skin site remains in contact with the source of irritation. Symptoms subside when contact with the irritant is removed.

Sensitization dermatitis is more problematic and is usually caused by skin exposure to fine wood dust of certain species. Sensitization is an allergic reaction to a substance that is usually irreversible. Resulting in hypersensitivity and susceptibility to being overly responsive. This is also referred to as allergic contact dermatitis and results in similar skin effects to those produced by skin irritants. Once sensitized, the body sets up an allergic reaction, and the skin may react severely if subsequently exposed to very small amounts of the wood dust. Cross-sensitization may develop where other woods or even non-wood materials produce a similar response.”

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

An allergy is basically the negative health effects that result from the stimulation of specific immune responses. Allergic contact dermatitis is a form of delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction that is dependant upon cell-mediated immune function and the activity of T lymphocytes. The most frequent form of allergic reaction is to small molecular weight materials such as chemicals and proteins. These reactions are better known as contact hypersensitivity, skin sensitization, and allergic contact dermatitis.

This occurs in 2 stages:

Stage 1 (Induction Phase): Initial contact may result in the allergen penetrating the stratified squamous epithelial cells of the skin and binding to large dendritic (branched) white blood cells in the epidermis called Langerhans cells. The Langerhans cell (with the allergen on its membrane) migrates to a nearby lymph node where special white blood cells, called effector T-cells, are programmed to recognize the allergen. There are literally millions of effector T-cells roaming throughout the blood and lymphatic system, each with special receptor molecules on their membranes for a particular allergenic chemical. T-cells patrol our circulatory system looking for invading cells and viruses.

Stage 2 (Elicitation Phase): If you come in contact with the offending allergen during a subsequent encounter, and effector T-cell may encounter it bound to a Langerhans cell and attach to it by a complicated and specific recognition system. The effector T-cell then produces multiple clones and releases special proteins called lymphokines which attract a legion of different white blood cells, including macrophages and cytotoxic (“killer”) T-cells. The new army of white blood cells releases cytokines or proteins that destroy everything in the vicinity including other skin cells, thus producing a blistering rash.

Milder effects range from redness (Vasodilation) and itching (nerve injury) to small blisters (vesicles and bullae). Stronger effects can result in Anaphylaxis, which can occur in response to any allergen, while Anaphylaxis occurs infrequently; it is life threatening and can occur at any time. Risks include prior history of any type of allergic reaction.

Here is a small list of popular woods that should be avoided.

We will continue to expand this list as we further our research.

Most of this information is taken from:
Botanical Dermatology: Plants and Plant Products Injurious to the Skin

Dalbergia spp: (Rosewoods) With "the discovery of sensitizing quinones in other woods such as teak... led Schulz and Dietrichs (1962) to look for similar sibstances in Dalbergia nigra and Dalbergia retusa. They found three quinones which they called Dalbergia quinones A, B, and C, and demonstrated by patch tests on patients that these were the sensitizers, the strongest being R-3, 4-dimethoxydalbergione... They have now been found in most other Dalbergia spp."

Dalbergia retusa: (Cocobolo) contains S-4'-hydroxy-4-methoxy dalbergione, R-4-methoxy dalbergione and other quinones and phenols.

Dalbergia cultrate: (Burmese Rosewood) contains a dalbergione.

Dalbergia nigra: (Brazilian Rosewood) contains R-4-methoxydalbergione and other quinones.

Dalbergia latifolia: (East Indian Rosewood, Sonokoling) contains R-4-methoxydalbergione and other quinones.

Dalbergia Cochinchinensis: (Laos Rosewood, Thai Rosewood, Cochin Rosewood) contains R-4-methoxydalbergione and other quinones.

Dalbergia stevensonii: (Honduran Rosewood, Nagaed Wood, Palissandre Honduras) contains a dalbergione.

Dalbergia decipularis: (Tulipwood) contains a dalbergione.

Dalbergia frutescens:(Tulipwood) contains a dalbergione.

Dalbergia melanoxylon: (African Blackwood) contains several quinones including S-4'-hydroxy-4-methoxydalbergione and S-4-methoxydalbergione.

Dalbergia cearensis: (Kingwood, de Violette, Violet Wood, Violetta) contains a dalbergione, described as a very severe skin irritant, often leading to persistent ulceration.

Dalbergia congestiflora: (Mexican Kingwood) contains a dalbergione.

Dalbergia maritime: (Madagascar Rosewood, Bois de Rose) contains a dalbergione.

Cordia dodecandra: (Zericote, Ziricote) Cross reactions are possible with this species once sensitivity to R-3,4-dimethoxydalbergione (found in pao ferro and Dalbergia species), obtusaquinone (found in cocobolo, and macassar quinone (found in macassar ebony) have developed.

Cordia elaeagnoides: (Bocote, Becote) Cross reactions are possible with this species once sensitivity to R-3,4-dimethoxydalbergione (found in pao ferro and Dalbergia species), obtusaquinone (found in cocobolo, and macassar quinone (found in macassar ebony) have developed.

Peltogyne densiflora: (Purpleheart) "Dlaberginoes have been isolated from the wood."

Tetraclinis articulata: (Thuya Burl) The heartwood of this species is known to contain several dermatologically active compounds including thymoquinone, carvacrol, and B-and ?-thujaplicins.

Tectona grandis: (Teak) The "dermatic compounds" (sensitizers) lapachol (aka tecomin, a quinone), desolzylapachol, and lapachonole (aka lapachonone) were found in Tectona wood. Lapachol has been called "a known elicitor of contact dermatitis" and a "sensitizing agent." "Deoxylapachol and lapachenole... are potent cotact allergens." "Local races of teak and even individual trees vary greatly in desoxylapachol content." "Lapachenole has been shown to be both irritant and sensitizing" by Sandermann & Barghoorn (1955). "Indonesian natives have long distinguished three grades of the wood, the poorest (Djati sempoerna) being liable to cause skin irritation"

Pterocarpus soqauxii: (Padauk) can cause irritation to the skin, dermatitis, and sensitizer. It can have naphthoquinones. Cross-sensitivity may occur with use of Bocote when sensitivity has been developed to related quinones.

Machaerium scleroxylon: (Pau Ferro) has dalbergiones. It can cause dermatitis, itching, swelling, redness of face, scrotum, and hands.

Guibourtia tessmannii: (Bubinga) "Dermatitis, possibly caused by sensitizing quinones."

Diospyros celebica: (Macassar Ebony) contains macassar II, a B-naphthol "derivative that may become oxidised in vivo to macassar quinone. This compound has been shown to have sensitizing properties in guinea pigs. Cross-sensitivity to other naphthoquinones" three found in zericote, pao ferro, cocobolo, becote, and padauk are possible. "Later testing confirmed sensitivity to R-3,4-dimethoxydalbergione (found in pao ferro), obtusaquinone (found in cocobolo), and macassar quinone (found in macassar ebony)." Wood of this secie is one of the only ones that these substances have been proven to be found in. "The yellow naphthoquinone pigment, plumbagin (methyl juglone) occurs in a colourless combined form and is liberated from root tissue by acid treatment. (Harborne 1966)... Plumbagin is also found in some species of the families Drosercaseae, Ebenaceae, and Euphorbiaceae (Thomson 1971)... Plumbagin has an irritating odor and causes sneezing; it stains the skin to a purple color and has a vesicant action."

Cinnamomum Camphora: (Camphorwood) The wood contains camphor and borneol. Following cases of serious toxiciry and even death in children, products containing more than trace quantities of camphor have now largely been withdrawn from teh market (Reynolds 1996). "Can cause dermatitis and shortness of breath" and camphor causes mild heart stimulant activity. Topically applied, it can penetrate the skin."

Milletia laurentii: (Wenge) can have central nervous system effects, give dermatitis, irritate skin, is listed as a sensitizer, and is oily.

Acer saccharum: (Suger Maple) "This specieshas been found to contain 2,6-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoquinone which is a known contact allergen."

Salix spp: (Willow) contains salicin, a phenolic glucoside, and is a precuror of aspirin, also has saligenin, a known contact allergen. Willow is also listed as a sensitizer.

Betula spp: (Birch) contains salicylates such as methyl salicylate, Cross-sensitivities could occur in those with aspirin allergies. Birch also listed as a sensitizer.

Dymondwood is a manufactured wood product consisiting of layers of birch veneer which have been dyed with aniline dye and then compressed under head and pressure with acrylic resins into a dense, durable, highly polished material. Aniline dyes have been proven to be carcinogenic as well as sensitizing agent causing allergic contact dermatitis.

Aniline Dye (in Dymondwood)

Warning: this dye is also commonly used overseas to dye wood to make it appear as black ebony. Unfortunately, this practice is more common that you would believe.

Skin Contact: May be absorbed through skin. Symptoms of skin absorbtion parallel those from inhalation exposure. may cause skin irritation. Local contact may cause dermatitis.

Chronic Exposure: Aniline is a blood toxin, causing hemoglobin to convert to methemoglobin, resulting in cyanosis. Lengthy or repeated exposures may result in decreased appetite, anemia, weight loss, nervous system affects, and kidney, liver and bone marrow damage. Any exposure may cause an allergic skin reaction.

Skin Protection: Wear impervious protective clothing, including boots, gloves, lab coat, apron or coveralls, as appropriate, to prevent skin contact.

Environmental Toxicity: This material is expected to be very toxic to terrestrial life and to aquatic life.

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