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the basics of body jewelry sizing

Sometimes sizing body jewelry can be difficult, especially when making a first-time purchase, but here’s a few simple things to remember that should make new jewelry sizing a bit easier:


The “gauge” when referring to body jewelry sizing means the thickness, and this will apply to every type of piercing jewelry.  For barbells, studs, circulars, nose rings, and especially plugs and tapers, you’ll need to know the exact gauge you require before searching for new items.  This is measured as the diameter of the portion that actually rests within the piercing, and for tapered items it will always be measured at the thickest point.

 body jewelry gauging

Hint: any piercer in your area can measure for you and let you know exactly what size to get, and many of them do so free of charge if you’re a repeat customer.


The length of an item is exactly what it sounds like, and applies to both straight and curved barbells and posts.  For curved items, this will be measured straight across the distance between the two balls or decorative ends, not loosely along the curve.  Most straight posts and bars come in a range of standard sizes, the most common of which are listed below.

 body jewelry length measurements

Hint: for industrial barbells, you may find sizes that fall in between these exact measurements, but each will be noted in the product’s specifications, and generally annotated as a measurement in millimeters.

industrial barbell standard lengths


Diameter applies primarily to shields and circular barbells, like BCRs, segment rings, or horseshoe barbells.  The diameter of these items will always be measured from inside edge to inside edge at the widest part of the circle.

 circular barbell diameter measurements

Hint: when in doubt, just remember your standard sizes.  1/4″ diameter items are most often used for ear cartilage piercings, 5/16″ and 3/8″ for nose piercings and eyebrow rings, and 11mm and 12mm (1/2″) for lip rings and nipple piercings.  Obviously there are many exceptions to these rules, but at least they’ll give you a general idea of what to shoot for.

For more about body jewelry styles and sizing, check out our Jewelry Sizing category.

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