Guide to Body Jewelry, Measurements, Sizing & Shopping

Selecting the right jewelry for a body piercing can be a nuanced decision, especially for those new to the world of piercings or purchasing a gift for someone else.

This comprehensive guide provides insights on gauge sizes, measurement techniques for various jewelry types, and considerations for different piercings.

Whether you’re a piercing enthusiast or a thoughtful gift-giver, the following information is designed to help you make informed and confident choices.

Understanding Gauge Sizes

Gauge refers to the thickness of the piercing jewelry. Lower gauge numbers indicate thicker jewelry. Here’s a conversion chart for common gauge sizes to millimeters and fractional inches:

Gauge to Millimeter and Fractional Inch Conversion Chart

Gauge (g)Millimeters (mm)Inches (Fraction)

Understanding Jewelry Measurements

Different types of body jewelry are measured differently:

Rings (Captive Bead Rings, Hoops, etc.)

  • Measurement: Diameter, measured from inside edge to inside edge.

Straight Barbells

  • Measurement: Length is measured from the inside of one ball end to the inside of the other, excluding the threads or ends themselves.

Curved Barbells

  • Measurement: Length, measured in a straight line from the inside of one ball end to the inside of the other.


  • Measurement: Diameter for hoops and length for straight or curved portions, depending on the design.


  • Measurement: Length, measured from the base of the flat disc to the start of the ball or decoration, not including the screw threads.

Threaded vs. Threadless Jewelry

Understanding the difference between threaded and threadless jewelry is important for comfort and convenience:

Threaded Jewelry

  • Description: Jewelry with screw-on ends that attach to a threaded post.
  • Pros: Secure, less likely to fall out.
  • Cons: Threads can irritate the piercing if not inserted carefully.

Threadless Jewelry

  • Description: Features a post with a bendable pin that snaps into a hollow end piece.
  • Pros: Easier and quicker to change, smoother insertion, less irritation.
  • Cons: May need occasional adjustment to ensure the pin stays securely in place.

Each type of piercing has specific size recommendations:


  • Gauge Size: 20g – 18g
  • Most Common Gauge: 20g is standard for most earlobe piercings.
  • Length/Diameter: 6mm – 8mm
  • Common Jewelry Types: Studs, hoops, and dangles.
  • Additional Considerations: Versatile, accommodates a wide range of jewelry types and sizes.
  • Gift Buying Tip: Classic designs like studs or small hoops are safe choices.
  • For Newcomers: Start with hypoallergenic materials like titanium or surgical steel.

Cartilage (Helix, Tragus, etc.)

  • Gauge Size: 16g – 14g
  • Most Common Gauge: 16g is commonly used for cartilage piercings.
  • Length/Diameter: 6mm – 10mm
  • Common Jewelry Types: Barbells, hoops, and labret studs.
  • Additional Considerations: Cartilage piercings can vary in size and style

, and placement on the ear can influence the choice of jewelry.

  • Gift Buying Tip: Small hoops or barbells with subtle embellishments are often appreciated for their versatility.
  • For Newcomers: Cartilage piercings can take longer to heal; choose jewelry that’s easy to clean and maintain.


  • Gauge Size: 16g – 14g
  • Most Common Gauge: 16g is typically used for eyebrow piercings.
  • Length/Diameter: 6mm – 10mm
  • Common Jewelry Types: Curved barbells, captive bead rings.
  • Additional Considerations: Eyebrow piercings are surface piercings and need jewelry that conforms well to the face’s contour.
  • Gift Buying Tip: Look for curved barbells with unique ends, like colored balls or small gems, to add personality.
  • For Newcomers: Make sure the curvature of the barbell matches the anatomy for comfort and healing.

Nose (Nostril, Septum)

  • Gauge Size: 20g – 16g (Nostril), 16g – 14g (Septum)
  • Most Common Gauge: 20g for nostril, 16g for septum piercings.
  • Length/Diameter: 6mm – 8mm (Nostril), 8mm – 10mm (Septum)
  • Common Jewelry Types: Screws, L-bends, hoops (Nostril); Captive bead rings, horseshoe barbells (Septum).
  • Additional Considerations: Nostril piercings are often initially pierced with studs, while septum piercings may require specific jewelry shapes for comfort.
  • Gift Buying Tip: Dainty hoops or studs with small gems are popular for nostril piercings; for septum, consider simple captive bead rings.
  • For Newcomers: Be cautious of the size and fit, especially for septum piercings, as a misfit can cause discomfort.

Lip (Labret, Monroe, etc.)

  • Gauge Size: 16g – 14g
  • Most Common Gauge: 16g is commonly chosen for lip piercings.
  • Length/Diameter: 6mm – 10mm
  • Common Jewelry Types: Labret studs, hoops.
  • Additional Considerations: The choice of jewelry for lip piercings should consider both comfort and the potential impact on oral health.
  • Gift Buying Tip: Choose studs with small, appealing designs or stones that complement the wearer’s style.
  • For Newcomers: Ensure the post length is comfortable and doesn’t interfere with daily activities like eating or talking.


  • Gauge Size: 14g – 12g
  • Most Common Gauge: 14g is standard for tongue piercings.
  • Length/Diameter: 16mm – 19mm
  • Common Jewelry Types: Straight barbells.
  • Additional Considerations: The length of the barbell is crucial for initial swelling, and shorter barbells may be needed after healing.
  • Gift Buying Tip: Opt for barbells with attractive but unobtrusive designs on the visible end.
  • For Newcomers: Select a barbell length that accommodates swelling but can be downsized after healing.
  • Gauge Size: 14g
  • Most Common Gauge: 14g is the standard size for navel piercings.
  • Length/Diameter: 10mm – 12mm
  • Common Jewelry Types: Curved barbells, dangle belly rings.
  • Additional Considerations: Anatomy plays a significant role in the fit and comfort of navel jewelry, and placement can vary.
  • Gift Buying Tip: Dangle rings or curved barbells with decorative elements are popular choices.
  • For Newcomers: Consider the type of clothing typically worn; some jewelry designs may catch on tighter outfits.


  • Gauge Size: 14g – 12g
  • Most Common Gauge: 14g is most frequently used for nipple piercings. 16g is sometimes used for smaller (or men’s) nipples.
  • Length/Diameter: 12mm – 19mm
  • Common Jewelry Types: Straight and curved barbells, captive bead rings.
  • Additional Considerations: Nipple piercings require careful measurement for comfort and aesthetics. They can vary significantly in size depending on individual anatomy.
  • Gift Buying Tip: Barbell designs with subtle accents or unique textures are often appreciated for their blend of style and discretion.
  • For Newcomers: Prioritize comfort and choose a gauge that supports healing, especially in the initial stages.

Gift-Giving Guide for Body Piercing Jewelry

Choosing body piercing jewelry as a gift can be a considerate and personal gesture. However, it’s essential to remember the unique challenges that come with such a gift, especially in terms of sizing and personal style preferences. Here are some tips to help you make the best choice:

  • Understand Preferences: Try to understand the recipient’s style and preferences. This can be gleaned from the types of jewelry they currently wear, including the metal types and designs.
  • Consider Versatility: Opt for versatile pieces that can be worn with various outfits and on different occasions. Classic designs in neutral colors or metals are often a safe bet.
  • Ask for Advice: If you know where the recipient got their piercing done, you might be able to ask their piercer for recommendations on jewelry types and sizes.
  • Include a Gift Receipt: Providing a gift receipt allows the recipient to exchange the jewelry if it’s not quite right, ensuring they end up with something they genuinely love and can wear comfortably.

The Gift of Choice: Gift Cards

When in doubt, a gift card from a reputable body piercing jewelry retailer can be an excellent choice. It takes the guesswork out of selecting the right piece and ensures that the recipient can choose something that perfectly suits their taste and needs. Gift cards are beneficial when you’re unsure about the specifics, like the gauge size or the length/diameter needed for their piercing.

Gift cards also allow the recipient to choose from a wide range of jewelry options, perhaps even something they’ve been eyeing for a while. This way, you’re providing a gift and an enjoyable shopping experience.

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