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Large gauge jewelry, particularly for the ears, can be a little bit confusing to sort through. So here are some of the basics to remember when buying for yourself or others.

You can start at the most basic level to separate large gauge ear jewelry into two primary categories: jewelry that stays in the ear, and items that protrude from the ear.

For the most part, pieces that remain in the ear only will be in the plug, tunnel, and eyelet family. If that sounds like a little much, just remember these two basic styles: plug, and tunnel. A regular plug is solid, while a tunnel (sometimes also referred to as a tunnel plug) is hollow, meaning you can see through to the other side.

With jewelry that protrudes from the ear, you’ll be talking about a piece of jewelry called a taper. Tapers have four primary styles: straight tapers, curved tapers (sometimes also called claws or talons because of their shape), Buffalo tapers (so named because they look like buffalo horns), and spiral tapers.

Often it’s easiest just to remember whether someone prefers a curved taper, or a spiral taper.  Most often straight tapers are used temporarily during the stretching phases of gauging up a piercing, and aren’t generally worn full time as a fashion statement. That means that curves, whether a talon or a buffalo style, and spirals make up the majority of popular taper jewelry.

Now all you need to know is the gauge size of the piercing you’re buying for, and you’ll have a lot easier of a time picking out plugs, tunnels, tapers, whatever!

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