It may come as a surprise that there are over thirteen recognized piercings of the ear other than the standard lobe. So what are they called, where are they situated, and what do people wear there? As with all modern piercings, style is limited only to imagination, but there are definitely some basics to bear in mind.
The common forms of ear lobe and cartilage piercing are as follows:
Anti-tragus: This is a piercing of the cartilage that lays directly across from the tragus and just above the lobed portion of the ear. Due to the thickness of the cartilage here, piercings are normally initially completed at no larger than a 14 gauge, and primarily studs or small diameter captive jewelry are worn here. As with other cartilage piercings, you’ll want to know the proper gauge size for those who are pierced before purchasing jewelry for them because this will vary from person to person.
Daith: The daith is considered contemporary in origin and as indicated by its co-creators is meant be worn with a captive ring or segment ring. It is traditionally a piercing of the ridge that lies just above the opening of the ear canal, but individuals who lack a defined ridge here may choose to be pierced through the flap of cartilage directly above and closer to the head.
Forward Helix: A piercing of the helix, or outer ear rim, as it comes forward to meet the side of the head. This can be worn with small captive jewelry, a small curved barbell, or a stud.
Helix: The helix is the thin cartilage that forms the outer rim of the ear, and a helix piercing is any piercing performed along that edge. Many choose to get multiple piercings of the helix, which are often worn as a row of spiked studs or hoops.
Industrial: This is the name for a piercing that goes through two individual points in the ear cartilage but is worn as a single piece of jewelry connecting both. Although the common placement for an industrial is across the upper part of the helix, the name can be used to refer to any piercing that connects two separate points on the ear with a single barbell, including those that are made vertically through the helix and rook. Multiple industrial piercings that cross each other are often referred to as a “cage” or “lattice” piercing.
Inner Conch: The term “conch” generally references the hollow of the ear, and piercings across its plane are normally broken up into two parts. The inner conch piercing is a piercing of the upper and innermost portion of the conch and is worn almost exclusively as a stud piercing, though occasionally will be seen with a small curved barbell.
Orbital: An orbital is also a perforation of the conch area, but is done close to the helix and definitively worn with a larger diameter captive ring that loops around the outside of the helix.
Outer Conch: The “outer conch” is a piercing of the lower portion of the ear’s hollow closer to the helix and is normally filled with a curved barbell or a small stud.
Rook: A rook piercing is a piercing of the first thick cartilage ridge below the upper helix of the ear. This is mostly worn as a circular barbell of some sort, but depending on the person a curved barbell can also be worn. Like with other ear piercings, gauge sizing for a rook is usually small, though it may vary from person to person.
Snug: One of the lesser seen cartilage piercings, the snug is a piercing through the inner rim of the ear that lays inside the helix. This is one of the few cartilage piercings of the human ear that can be worn with a straight barbell due to its shape, although curved barbells and captive jewelry may also be worn.
Standard Lobe Piercing: A standard ear lobe piercing is done at the fleshy area where the lobe is most full and can be performed at many different gauges and stretched to accommodate larger jewelry. Standard size for an ear lobe piercing is 18 gauge.
Tragus: The tragus is a piercing of the thick bulb of cartilage that lays in front of the ear canal. This is one of the more common ear piercings and almost all types of jewelry have been worn here as a matter of personal preference.
Transverse Lobe Piercing: Transverse ear lobe piercings are made horizontally through the lobe, thus being worn primarily with a straight barbell. This type of lobe piercing is less common, and some individuals with attached lobes may not be able to receive a proper transverse piercing.
Upper Lobe: The upper lobe or “high lobe” piercing is done higher up on the fleshy portion of the ear near where the helix begins. Mostly performed as secondary or complimentary to a regular lobe piercing, these extra perforations of the lobe can generally be easily stretched to hold larger gauge jewelry.
For those who wear circular jewelry in their ear piercings, gauge size as well as diameter will be needed to attain a perfect fit.
And for persons with multiple stretched piercings in the cartilage and/or lobes, gauge will need to be noted.
Also, for industrial wearers, length will vary greatly due to the piercing’s many variations, and some will require custom bent or waved barbells for either comfort or simple aesthetic value.