If you are new to body jewelry measurements, you've probably just figured out that gauge sizes exist. There isn't just one standard size for every piercing. The gauge size you need will depend on where your piercing is.
If this all sounds confusing to you, don't feel bad. We feel your pain. That's why we’ve created this simple guide to gauge sizes, providing all the information you need to look great and be comfortable.
What Are Gauge Sizes?
Gauge sizes differentiate the thickness of each piece of body jewelry. It refers to how big a piercing hole needs to be in order to fit the jewelry comfortably. They are measured based on the width of the jewelry shaft. Smaller gauges are thinner. Larger gauges are smaller. Most body piercings typically require 18 or 20-gauge jewelry.
The American Wire Gauge (AWG) measures body jewelry gauge sizes. It measures the thickness of the post on a piece of jewelry. The smaller the gauge, the thicker the jewelry will be. The system measurements calculate in reverse. For example, a 6-gauge (6G) post is wider than a 16-gauge (16G).
What Jewelry Types Are Commonly Measured in Gauge Sizes?
A variety of body jewelry types get measured in gauge sizes. These include:
- Labret studs
- Nose piercings
- Ear piercings
- Lip piercings
- Belly button rings
- Septum jewelry
You'll need to select the correct gauge size to ensure a comfortable fit. You'll know if your jewelry does not fit properly. It will burn, swell, and in some cases, drain pus. It will also cause pain and possibly lead to infection. Infections will prevent your piercing from healing as it should. In severe cases, the jewelry will need to be removed for it to heal properly.
How Do I Select the Right Gauge Size for My Piercing?
Understanding the sizing chart will guide you in selecting the best gauge size for your body jewelry. Gauge sizes for body jewelry range from 18g to 00g. The standard gauge for ear and nose piercings is 18g, with a standard length of .04 inches.
The standard gauge for other piercings, such as the tongue, navel, labret, nipple, and septum, are 14g with a standard length of 1/16 inches. The table below will show you the best gauge sizes for each piercing.
Jewelry Type Gauge Size
Labret Studs 16G-18G
Nose Piercings 20G
Ear Piercings 18G-20G or 22G
Lip Piercings 16G-18G
Belly Button Rings 14G-16G
Septum Jewelry 16G-18 G
Nipple Piercings 14G-16G
Tongue Piercings 14G-18G
Here is a comparison of gauges to diameters in both inches and millimeters:
- The 00 gauge measures 3/8-inch or 9.3 millimeters
- The 0 gauge equals 5/16-inch or 8.3 millimeters
- The 2 gauge measures out to 1/4-inch or 6.5 millimeters.
- The 8 gauge is equivalent to 1/8-inch or 3.2 millimeters.
- The 14 gauge measures out 1/16-inch or 1.6 millimeters.
- The 18 gauge equals 0.04 inches or 1.0 millimeters.
Once you identify the best gauge size for your body jewelry, you'll want to choose the size you can insert easily, which fits comfortably in your piercing without being too long or short.
Do I Need to Determine My Own Gauge for Body Jewelry?
The good thing about standard gauge sizes is that you don’t have to measure your own gauge. If the body jewelry you purchase is made from traditional materials and in a standard size, it should fit correctly. Your piercer will use the same standard chart listed above to choose your starter jewelry based on the location of your piercing.
It's excellent for several reasons. One, it will heal quicker because your body can adjust to its size and shape much faster. Body piercings can take months to heal fully. Ensure you keep it clean and have jewelry that won't irritate it.
It will help prevent excess pain or discomfort. Not to mention, it will prevent infection. A properly fitting piece of body jewelry is much less likely to irritate the skin.
If you have a unique piercing size or require a non-standard size for some reason, it's a favorable idea to seek advice from a professional. They have more experience and can support you in finding the best gauge size for your piercing. Or you can order a gauge wheel to help you measure your gauge size.
The gauge wheel is a flat disk with a series of punched holes. Each hole is labeled with a size. When you place your jewelry post through the corresponding hole, it will indicate the size of your piercing. The wheel starts with 18g and goes up to 00g, so you’ll be able to find the correct size for whatever body jewelry you are looking for.
For body jewelry, it's better to choose larger gauges than small ones, like 18g or 16g. The latter increases the chances of migration, which can result in pain and even rejection. Rejection happens when the body pushes out the jewelry as if rejecting a foreign object.
If you don't have a gauge wheel, alternative ways exist to measure the gauge of your body jewelry. You can use a caliper or micrometer to determine the post's diameter and then refer to the chart to establish its corresponding gauge size. It is advisable to avoid touching the measured area and instead utilize the tool to obtain an accurate reading.
Measuring Stud Jewelry
One thing to consider when measuring body jewelry is that most studs are measured from the back of the post, not the front. You are looking for the post gauge and length. This means that when you put the post in a gauge wheel, it should measure slightly smaller than what is listed. For example, if your jewelry has a 16g post, it will measure 14g when you put it in the gauge wheel.
It is because the back of the post is typically slightly larger than the front. So, adjust it accordingly as you measure it.
Measuring Hoop Jewelry
For hoop jewelry, you don't need to worry about measuring from the back or the front of the post. The most critical part to measure is the diameter and gauge of the hoop. That is usually listed on the packaging or in the product description.
Also, measure the diameter of the hoop before you purchase it. It will help you determine whether it fits your piercing well. If the diameter is too tiny, it will be uncomfortable to wear. If the diameter is too big, it won't stay securely in your piercing and could cause irritation or more easily get hung up on clothing and cause a large tear.
Know That You Will Experience Discomfort No Matter the Gauge Size
No matter what gauge size you decide to go with, understand that you will still experience some level of discomfort when getting a new piercing. The first few days are usually the hardest. Your piercing may be painful. You may even experience bruising, swelling, and bleeding.
The pain should go away in time as you get used to the jewelry and your body adjusts. Keeping things clean and following your piercer’s instructions when caring for your piercing is crucial. To alleviate some of the pain, use over-the-counter painkillers. You can also try numbing cream to help dull the pain.
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Why Is Knowing the Gauge Size Important?
Knowing the gauge size of your body jewelry is essential because it helps ensure a comfortable and safe piercing experience. As mentioned before, correctly fitted jewelry will help your piercing heal faster and reduce the chances of infection.
Get help from a specialist. They can help you find the best ring for your piercing. It will help you prevent tearing, excessive pain, and bleeding throughout the healing process. If you have to force a piece of jewelry into a piercing, you should stop and either figure out the measure of your proper size or consult with a professional.
Tips for Finding Your Perfect Gauge Size
Finding your perfect gauge size is not always easy, but here are a few straightforward tips to make the selection process easier.
Always measure the diameter of your piercing before buying jewelry. Avoid getting stuck with a piece that doesn't fit. Many jewelers won't accept returned jewelry because of health and safety regulations.
Keep in mind the type of jewelry you are buying. Certain pieces will fit better than others. For example, measure the diameter before buying a hoop to ensure it fits your piercing well. You don't want the open part of the hoop to hug your skin tightly. It should be loose.
Be sure to measure the gauge size correctly. You can use a digital caliper and a gauge wheel. When measuring with a gauge wheel, it should measure slightly smaller than what is listed on the packaging.
Look for jewelry made from high-quality, solid materials. Gold, platinum, glass, or stainless steel are great for body piercings. It will help ensure your piercing stays comfortable and safe over time. It will lower your chances of experiencing an infection.
Be aware of the gauge size when buying jewelry online. In some cases, it may differ slightly from what was listed. Aim to purchase your body jewelry from reputable sellers. Read customer reviews to get a better understanding of the quality of the jewelry as well as the fit.
Consider your lifestyle and how much activity you engage in when selecting a gauge size. It is important because if you get a piece that is too thick, it may be uncomfortable during physical activity. The extra weight could also irritate your piercing.
Choose a piece of jewelry that compliments your style. We understand that body piercings allow you to practice self-expression, whether due to religion, sexuality, or even if you just want to make a style statement. Just make sure it's comfortable.
Ensure your chosen piece is made from high-quality materials to prevent irritation or discomfort. It will make the healing process more manageable.
Don’t be afraid to try on different jewelry sizes and styles. We know this sounds intimidating and counterproductive to what we said earlier, but it can be a fun experience to find the perfect jewelry for your piercing. If you try a standard gauge size that doesn’t work for you, try something different.
There is no one-size-fits-all gauge size for jewelry, so experimenting is key. Remember that comfort, safety, and style matter when it comes to body jewelry.
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Don't Let the Process of Finding the Best Gauge Size Scare You
Finding the right gauge size for your body jewelry can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Gauge sizes are essential when selecting body jewelry because they help ensure a comfortable and safe piercing. With the tips we've provided, you can find the perfect gauge size for your piercing.
Let comfort be your top priority. Consult a piercing specialist if you can't determine which size is best. The way you feel about the choice you've made is what really matters. You should be happy and not feel like you are settling for jewelry only because it's the safest option. So, explore different sizes and styles until you find the perfect fit.