Nipple Rings: Sizing and Style Overview

by Lorna

With so many different options out there, sometimes it's hard to figure out the sizes that should be purchased when searching for new items, especially when it comes to nipple rings.  Well fear not, body jewelry enthusiasts, because we're about to make it all clear.

The first thing to decide is what type of item you're looking for.  There are many pieces of jewelry that can be worn in a nipple piercing, so to save some time, we'll cover here the four most common types.


Style 1: The Nipple Bar

Standard Nipple Bars

Nipple bars are just a straight piece that goes through the piercing and is tipped on either end with a gem or ball; these are basically a standard barbell, but are normally tipped with crystals or embellishments facing out so they can be seen from the front. 


Style 2: The Standard Nipple Ring

Standard Nipple Ring Style

What most of us refer to as a "nipple ring" is really just a nipple bar with some type of dangle or hanging decoration.  These will be sized (for the most part) as you would size a nipple bar.  Unless the attached ends of the dangle are extremely thick, barbell length will be the main focus of sizing here.


Style 3: The Horseshoe Ring

Horseshoe Nipple Rings

This is just a curved barbell in the shape of a horseshoe will a ball at each end to hold it in place.  Horseshoe rings can be a tad trickier to size, as the main focus for proper fit will be the diameter of the ring.  Once you know what to look for though, this item makes a simple and stylish addition to your jewelry wardrobe.


Style 4: The Nipple Shield

Standard Nipple Shield

The most difficult to size of all nipple jewelry, these items will need a measurement for barbell length AND opening diameter of the "shield" decoration, which will normally have a circular center or some type of widened opening.



So now that we're familiar with the main types of jewelry, let's get down to business. 

The first thing to look at when sizing a nipple ring of any type is gauge size: the thickness (diameter) of the "post" or barbell piece that goes through the actual piercing and comes out the other side.  This part should be easy because there's generally very little variation in the needle size used to pierce this area.  The majority of nipple rings will be a 14 gauge, which is about 1.6 millimeters in diameter.  This is about the same size as the average belly ring or labret piercing, though these items appear very different. 

Occasionally due to the way a piercing heals a slightly smaller 16 gauge will be needed, so be sure to find out what gauge you require as this above all will insure a comfortable fit. 

Janet Jackson Style Sun Nipple Shield

Janet became famous for her Super Bowl slip,but the fans have spoken, and they love the look.  Want to copy Janet Jackson's super-sweet tribal sun?  Get the goods here:  Sun Nipple Shields


Next for bars, standard "rings," and nipple shields, the length of the straight barbell will be important.  The standard length for these items is 16 millimeters, or 5/8 inch, but the best way to be sure that you won't need something smaller is to measure what you currently wear, or have your piercer measure for you.  For a proper length measurement you will need both ball tips to be screwed into place on the barbells ends, and then measure the length of barbell BETWEEN the two tips.  Approximate size of steel or acrylic balls should not be included in the length measurement.

When measuring a horseshoe ring or nipple shield, diameter will always be measured at the widest point, directly across the opening.  Due to variance in sizing needs from person to person, shield and ring opening diameters will generally come as small as 8 millimeters and go up from there to as large as over half an inch.  If buying your first shield, it's advisable to check with your piercer for sizing recommendations.  The piercer will be able to listen to how you want the item to fit, show you what these items look like when worn, and let you know what size diameter you should be looking for to get the look you desire.

Nipple Shield Diameter


Other types of items that can be worn in the nipple piercing include the captive ring (sized by diameter and gauge), the invisible nipple bar (sized like a standard nipple bar), and the nipple chain for persons who have both nipples pierced.


Ball Captive Rings Invisible Nipple Rings Pierced Nipple Chains


For more handy info on jewelry sizing, check out the rest of our Jewelry Sizing category.

by Lorna

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  • J

    Jodie O

    Hi Zaria,

    You’ll definitely want to stick with a 14 gauge until your piercing has fully healed. It’s also not recommended that you switch out your jewelry until the piercing as fully healed because this can cause irritation to the newly formed skin. It’s technically an open wound right now, so you don’t want to mess with that healing process. If you’re going to change it, we would recommend you let your piercer do it because they can sterilize and sanitize the area to try and prevent any infections from occurring.

  • Z

    Zaria G

    Hello, I just got my nipples pierced recently and it was with a 16 gauge horseshoe ring. I asked my piercer if it was safe for me to switch to the bar and he said it should be fine. I just have to find the right size for the rest of my healing process. Will it be best to go ahead and switch to a 14 gauge bar? Or should I just get a 16 gauge until my piercing is finished healing then switch to a 14 gauge? Please let me know. Thank you!

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