This guide has been written by all about piercing to help you to select the correct body jewelry for your needs, and to enable you to convert between the US gauge system and millemetres. At all about piercing we want you to be happy with your purchase, so if you need any additional information please don't hesitate to contact us, and we'll do our best to help!
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The gauge of body jewellery is the diameter of the bar or plug; for flared or saddle plugs it is the diameter at the narrowest point. There are two systems of gauge measurements, US gauges (Ga) and metric (mm) which convert as follows:
18 Ga : 1.0mm
16 Ga : 1.2mm
14 Ga : 1.6mm
12 Ga : 2.0mm
10 Ga : 2.4mm
8 Ga : 3 mm
6 Ga : 4 mm
4 Ga : 5 mm
2 Ga : 6 mm
0 Ga : 8 mm
00 Ga : 10 mm
The length of a body jewellery bar is the straight length excluding the thread, as shown by the purple arrows on the pictures below. This is also true for curved bars - measure the straight length from tip to tip excluding the thread, not the curved length. Other body jewellery (see below for a description of the different types) is measured as follows: labrets are measured from base to tip excluding thread, and lippy loops are measured the same way, as if they were labrets. CBRs, BCRs, twisters and horseshoes are all measured by internal diameter. How to measure your body jewellery is shown on the pictures below.
Length is measured in millimeters, except in the US where inches are used; these convert as follows:
6mm : 1/4"
8mm : 5/16"
10mm : 3/8"
11mm : 7/16"
12mm : 1/2"
14mm : 9/16"
16mm : 5/8"
18mm : 11/16"
19mm : 3/4"
21mm : 13/16"
22mm : 7/8"
All measurements are approximate
The ball closure ring (BCR) is a standard for most types of piercing, and has the convenience of being able to turn it to clean it in situ. The ball has two dimples in it, and is held in place by the force of the ring in the dimples, it doesn't screw into place, so can be fiddly to insert. Sometimes a bead is used in place of the ball, this is known as a captive bead ring (CBR). Both CBR and BCR come in all sizes and gauges, and can be used for eyebrow, tragus, ear (all typically 16 Ga), lip or nipple (typically 14 or 16 Ga), navel (typically 14 Ga), and various other piercings. The purple arrow shows how to measure this type of body jewellery.
Most commonly used for tongue piercings (typically 14 Ga), barbells come in many lengths and gauges for use in the majority of piercings. Balls screw on. The purple arrow shows how to measure this type of body jewellery.
Most commonly seen in the eyebrow (typically 16 Ga), the curved barbell is less curved than the navel bananabell. Balls typically screw on. The purple arrow shows how to measure this type of body jewellery.
The bananabell, or banana bar, is usually used for navel piercings, typically in 14 Ga. The balls typically screw on and one is often larger than the other. The purple arrow shows how to measure this type of body jewellery.
PREGNANCY BELLY BAR
Maternity navel bars need to be flexible, to bend from curved to straight as the bump grows, and are typically 16mm long or more. Often both balls are the same small size, to avoid sticking out too much, and balls should be non-metal so that bars can be left in for scans. Please see our other guides for a more complete guide to pregnancy belly bars.
LABRET, MONROE AND LIPPY LOOP
Typically used in face piercings, the flat surface on one end is ideal for use inside the mouth, with ball outside. The ball may be screw on, or press fit, and can be internally or externally threaded. Labrets are most commonly seen below the lip in 14 Ga, a smaller 16 Ga version is more commonly seen as a Monroe or Madonna (above the upper lip like Marilyn Monroe's mole). A lippy loop is a labret for the lower lip/chin, with an extension that comes up inside the mouth and over the top of the lower lip. The purple arrow shows how to measure this type of body jewellery.
HORSESHOE / TWIST
The horseshoe or circular barbell is highly curved, typically with screw on balls; the twist is the same but with a twist - these are generally used as an alternative to the BCR. The purple arrow shows how to measure this type of body jewellery.
BCRs are usually used in a new nose piercing, but once healed it is common to swap this for a nose wire. These are held in place by their unique shape, they don't have removable balls, and are typically 18 Ga.
Plugs and flesh tunnels are used in stretched piercings, typically in the ear, and come in large gauges. Tapers vary in gauge along their length and can be used for stretching. Please take professional advice before stretching you piercing.
The above information is a guide only. Always seek advice from a professional piercer before getting pierced, stretching a piercing, changing your jewelry, or performing any other action relating to body jewellery or body piercing.
For a full range of body jewellery in a wide variety of types, gauges and sizes, please visit our eBay shop all about piercing
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