There is rarely a ‘one size fits all’ policy when it comes to jewellery and often professional piercers will use different sizes of jewellery depending on the person’s anatomy so that they get the best fit for that particular person.
Piercers will often also use slightly longer jewellery when they pierce you in order to accommodate any swelling that may occur during the healing process. This guide explains how to measure jewellery and lists the sizes of jewellery many people are first pierced with.
TL;DR – Too much information? For a shorter version try our quick reference guide here!
Measuring Your Jewellery.
You can measure your body jewellery at home very simply. To do this you will need a ruler, a piece of paper, a pen, a paper clip and a 1 pence, 1 cent or 1 euro coin. Alternatively, if you would like to be more exact about measuring your jewellery, you can use a pair of calipers.
Calipers are a tool that most body piercers will have on hand to measure body parts and sizes of jewellery as they give accurate readings in mm. Calipers should be available fairly cheaply from most hardware stores or online.
Finding the Gauge (width): Most common body jewellery is one of two sizes: 1.6mm (14G) or 1.2mm (16G). If your jewellery is the same width as your coin it is 1.6mm (14G). If it is slightly smaller it is 1.2mm. If your body jewellery seems a lot thinner than the coin then it is likely to be 1mm (18G) or 0.8mm (20G). 1mm is about the same thickness as a large paper clip where as 0.8mm will be the same size as a small paper clip.
Finding the Length: Take out your jewellery and remove the ball/s. Mark the space in-between the ball thread (don’t include it) with a pen on the piece of paper. Using a ruler measure the pen marks using millimeters (small lines in between the numbers on the cm side). Usually jewellery lengths are even numbers so round up if you have an odd number.
Using Calipers: The jewellery needs to be placed in the ‘jaws’ of the caliper. The ruler part slides to measure how far the jaws have needed to open. This distance between the jaws with be gauge, length or diameter of your jewellery depending on what part is being measured.
Average Body Jewellery Sizes.
Our jewellery sizes table lists the average sizing for body piercing jewellery. Some piercings, however, require jewellery that has been measured to suit your anatomy so those sizes are not included.
It should also be noted that the recommended ring diameter in this table is the ring size for healed piercings.
This table lists only piercings done by a professional piercer and not gunned piercings. Usually the average gun piercing or shop brought earring is 1mm (18G) and around 6mm long.
The width of a piercing hole (fistula) is often measured in a unit known as a gauge. Gauge is short for ‘American Wire Gauge’ and is a popular way of measuring the thickness of wires. However the wire gauge system only goes up to around 12mm (0000G) so the rest of the sizes are recorded in fractions of an inch.
A more consistent alternative to the gauge measurement is the use of millimetres which remains regular throughout the sizing and tends to be most popular in Europe.
This table relates to common jewellery sizes (i.e jewellery found in stores and online). Customised jewellery can come in any size so for a full conversion table try this one.
Jewellery Size Tips.
Talk to your piercer. It is best to have your piercer tell you what size of jewellery they have used if you are not experienced with jewellery sizes. This will mean that you can at least get the right gauge of jewellery for your piercing and judge how long you would like your jewellery to be.
Diameters. Some places list jewellery or tunnels by external or internal diameters. Internal diameters are the ‘void’ or ‘gap’ in the inside of a ring or tunnel or the gap between the two balls on a bar. External diameters are the outside of a ring or plug / tunnel. When buying a ring, bar or spiral you need to know the internal diameter as this is what ‘cups’ or sits inside the piercing. With plugs or tunnels you need to know the external diameter because that is what sits inside and is the ‘gauge’ of the piercing. In our average piercing sizes table the ‘jewellery length’ column describes internal diameters.
Buying shorter jewellery. When your piercing is healed if you would like a slightly shorter length of jewellery so that it sits more flush to the skin it is better to shorten the bar by only 1 or 2mm. This allows you to find a bar that fits without buying something that will be too short and press uncomfortably on the piercing.
Buying thinner jewellery. Ideally you shouldn’t buy smaller gauges of jewellery if you intend to wear them for a long time. This is because the piercing can shrink around smaller gauges and may limit the styles of jewellery you can wear without stretching the piercing up to a larger size again. Generally speaking, however, there is little danger in wearing a smaller gauge in a well healed piercing should you wish to.