The Many Gauges of Cartilage Piercings

by Jodie

So you just pierced a new hole in your ear, but you’re not sure what size jewelry you should be looking for.

If your piercing was done with a needle in a piercing shop, they may have informed you of the size right there, but maybe you just forgot what your piercer told you. Or maybe your piercing was done with a piercing gun instead. Whatever the reason, if you’re curious as to what size a particular hole in your ear is, let me break it down a little simpler for ya.

An earlobe piercing that’s done with a piercing gun is a 22 gauge needle. Any standard size earring or post will fit you. If you’ve been pierced with a needle in a piercing shop, most likely you’re at a 20 or 18 gauge. No worries! The smaller the gauge the bigger the hole, so any standard size earring can be worn in addition to 20 or 18 gauge captive rings, cartilage studs, etc.

Cartilage/Tragus Earrings

*NOTE: If your cartilage piercing is done with a piercing gun, it will most likely be a 22 gauge piercing. You will want to look at standard size earring studs (like those shown above) rather than ones made specifically for cartilage piercings. It’s always good to check with your piercer for accuracy no matter what type of piercing (lobe or cartilage) so as not to stretch/damage the tissue.

For tragus, anti-tragus, helix, rook, conch and most cartilage piercings (any part of the ear other than your lobe) a piercer will use an 18 gauge (as seen above) or 16 gauge needle. Depending on the anatomy of your ear, the piercer may use a 14 gauge needle as well. Industrial piercings are typically pierced at 14 gauge. Most of the cartilage and BCR (captive ring) styles we carry come in both 18 and 16 gauge sizes. Captive rings also come in 14 gauge.

Cartilage/Tragus Earrings


by Jodie

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  • A

    Alley (Body Candy Team)

    Hi Madison,

    Without seeing your ear, it’s hard to know exactly what size gauge you were pierced with, or if your ear piercing needs to be redone.

    You could let it heal up, but before you do, I do think you should do an in-person consult with a professional piercer and ask them what they think. They can also give you and your mom a quick lesson on gauge sizes and what you’ll need to fit your ear correctly.

  • M


    I got my cartilage done at walmart and they used a gun. I had mainly went to get my second holes pierced. I would like to use the normal gauge cartilage rings compared to normal lobe gauges but I don’t know how to just kinda in form my mom about he differences. Should I let it heal up or just go to a shop and hear what they say?

  • A

    Alley (Body Candy Team)

    Hi Brenna,

    Without seeing your ear or specific piercing in question, it’s hard to know if an 18g or 16g will fit right away.

    That being said, it is certainly possible that you could size up by stretching. Keep in mind, this should be a very gradual process with a slight gain in gauge at a time. Remember, once you stretch a cartilage piercing, it will not size down!

    I’m sure you could also get re-pierced at a larger gauge. Swing into a professional piercer (the next time that’s possible) and have them consult you in-person to be sure.

  • B


    I got my cartilage pierced about 3 years ago with a gun but want to be able to wear regular cartilage jewelry such as an 18g or 16g. Is there any way those would fit in my pierced holes in my cartilage if I stretched them, or is that dangerous. Also, if I cannot can they be re-pierced over the holes I already have?

  • A

    Alley (Body Candy Team)

    Hi Denise,

    This one varies a bit depending on the piercer/piercing – but either a 16g or 18g needle. Don’t be afraid to ask your piercer or head in for a consultation first.

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