First things first: there are five basic types of nose ring. These are the nose bone, nose screw, l-shaped nose ring, nose hoop, and fishtail. Of these five types, the first four are ready to be worn right out of the package. The fifth, the fishtail, is made to be taken to a piercing professional and custom fit, but we’ll get back to that in a moment. What we’ll do first is briefly discuss the three measurements that you’ll be interested in fit-wise when purchasing a nose ring: the gauge, length or diameter (depending on what style you choose), and gem or decoration size.
Gauge is the thickness of the item, and as you’re probably already aware, is extremely important to the fit of the item. Most nose piercings will be performed in either a 20 gauge, or the slightly larger 18 gauge. There are a few exceptions for those who were pierced in particular parts of the world (such as India, where tiny 22 gauge piercings are common), or have larger noses and chose to be pierced a size or two larger, but for the most part the common gauges are what you’ll be working with.
The length of the item is measured from the base of the gem or decoration to the beginning of the curve, bend, or bulbous end; a portion of the item often referred to as the “wearable surface.” This is the part that will actually be worn inside the piercing, and generally measures between 5 and 7 millimeters. Unless the nose is either very dainty or larger than average, any of these sizes are likely to fit to a degree, but for a truly perfect and comfortable fit, getting your ideal length measured at your piercer is a good idea.
Diameter is measured instead of length for nose hoops, and will always be the distance across the inside edges of the hoop at its largest point. Here again knowing your best measurement is useful, as hoops that are two small may not fit and those that are too large might fit but look a little odd.
The gem or decoration size of a nose ring is often overlooked, but depending on the look you want and the size of your individual nose, this measurement can actually be rather important. For persons with petite noses, standard 2mm sized gems can look a little bit oversized, and for those who have larger nostrils, a tiny micro nose ring may not garner the notice that you’d like. The gems/settings on nose rings start as small as 1.2 to 1.6mm (called a micro nose ring) and go up to about 3mm in size. Decorative shapes can be even larger, sometimes measuring up to 6 or 7mm (about 1/4″) wide.
Finally, for those that either want or require customized fitting, the fishtail is a wonderful option. Fishtails are made with an extra long 19mm (3/4″) straight length so that an experienced piercer can insert and custom bend them for you, removing any excess. Due to their length and shape, these items cannot be worn as is.
For more about jewelry sizing, visit our Jewelry Sizing Category, and always buy smart.