Any jewelry under $ 1 is going to be about the same quality metal as something like a paper clip. Maybe a fork if you’re lucky.
High quality materials cost money. It can be challenging when you’re the person who has to buy it. As a shop owner a huge portion of my expenses is body jewelry inventory, but I make it a priority in my business. If the owner of your shop does not see it as a priority than oftentimes they’ll simply buy the cheapest possible stock. Part of what we mean when we refer people to “experienced” or “reputable” piercers is their knowledge base and desire to only install jewelry made of safe, quality materials. It is good that you show a concern for installing something that costs 20 cents. I would take some time to educate yourself on body jewelry materials and pass that information on to your boss. There is affordable jewelry out there that is still made from safe materials. Not every piercing needs to be done with gold or with jewelry from the big name companies. They do need to all be done with materials the body will not have allergic reactions to though, and that is part of your responsibility as a professional.
Check out some of the APP’s educational brochures.
If you are a piercer you may also want to consider purchasing the Association of Professional Piercers’ procedural manual. It covers most general topics related to safe body piercing including jewelry standards and sterilization. It is available on our website. It has helped me significantly over the years.
You can also feel free to email me personally and privately if you would like any help with this matter. This invitation is open to any professional piercer who needs some help raising standards in their shop as well. Judgement-free. firstname.lastname@example.org