Body Piercing Jewellery

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Body Piercing Jewellery

In recent times it seems that just about anything can be pierced; chins, noses, lips, tongues and even odd places like the bridge (between eyebrows).  The conventional ear lobe is no longer the sole location for aesthetically pleasing jewellery, and body jewellery is no longer only for young “punks”. Ebay is a wonderful place to find affordable jewellery in custom shapes and sizes.

Whatever the reason, body jewellery is increasingly in demand, fostering both high and low quality jewellery manufacturers in the market. Unless trained in the area, individuals are often unaware of the basic attributes required of jewellery to ensure the healthy maintenance of piercings. This guide aims to inform buyers of types of body piercings, appropriate shapes and styles, metals and other manufacturing materials, gauges and lengths for different piercing types, and inform buyers about sterilizing purchased jewellery and price considerations.

Common Upper Body Piercings

A variety of body piercings are available to the upper body. Of course, the most common of these is the ear lobe. Variations to this include the ear cartilage (or top of the ear), tragus (or inner ear cartilage) and the conch (extending from the back of the ear, through to the inner ear). On other areas of the face there is the labret (between the chin and lip), lip ring, beauty spot (or monroe), eyebrow, nostril (either a stud or ring), bridge (between the eyebrows) and septum (cartilage between the nostrils). The naval piercing however is one of the most fashionable piercings and can be placed in various positions. It is often said that nipple and tongue piercings provide heightened sexual pleasure although both are commonly adorned for fashion purposes.

Shape and Style

The range of jewellery is also quite diverse, with different jewellery suitable for particular piercings. Captive bead rings are a spring loaded ring that holds a bead in place and is by far the most popular piece of jewellery. This is followed closely in popularity by the barbell which is a straight bar with a threaded bead on each end. A variation to the barbell is the bananabell which instead of having a straight shaft, is bent. This is identical to the naval bananabell however these typically have a larger bead on one end which may be jewel encrusted. Another highly versatile style of jewellery is the horseshoe (or circular barbell) which again has two threaded beads but instead of a straight or bent shaft, it is almost ring shaped. The labret stud, which is also fairly versatile, consists of a straight shaft with a flat back fixed to it and a bead that is threaded onto the other end. - See diagram for appropriate styles and shapes for different piercings.

1. Barbell    2. Captive bead ring    3. Horseshoe    4. Labret    5. Naval bananabell

Manufacturing materials

The types of materials used to manufacture body jewellery are varied. Some metals are more practical due to hypoallergenic properties, weight or finish. The most common and preferred material is 316L surgical stainless steel as it is strong, will not tarnish and is hypoallergenic. Implant steel is identical to this however it has a greater quality and is generally only manufactured in captive bead rings. Titanium on the other hand is around 50% lighter than stainless steel, hypoallergenic and available in a range of colours. Gold is also a popular metal and is generally available in 9ct or 18ct. Occasionally people may suffer an allergic reaction while the piercing is healing, but this is largely due to the alloys used to strengthen gold such as silver, copper, nickel, zinc or aluminum. Commercial grade silver is unacceptable as the body will almost always reject it. Niobium pieces are reasonably strong, extremely light, non-magnetic and also available in a wide range of colours. Over time, stainless steel, titanium, niobium and gold rings may become brittle due to opening and closing. For this reason it is suggested that jewellery only be opened to the minimum and only when required.

Gauge and Length

There are various gauges (thickness) and lengths in jewellery, and the higher the number in gauge, the thinner the material. It is important to note that using thinner jewellery than recommended will most likely result in the body rejecting it. Also, jewellery with a diameter that is too small will not heal correctly or if already an established piercing, may cause inflammation and infection. As a general rule, jewellery should be at least a few millimeters larger than the width of the piercing.

See table below for recommended gauge and length


Before inserting any jewellery it is necessary to sterilise it. Ideally, it should be sterilised using high pressure and high temperature steam in an autoclave, but as these units are highly expensive, alcohol or antiseptic disinfectants should be used. Simply soak the jewellery is the disinfectant solution for a few minutes. Remove the jewellery and place it on a clean, germ-free surface to dry. The jewellery will now be free of bacteria and ready to insert into the body.


Body jewellery in retail shops can be quite variable in price. When shopping on e-bay it is important to compare the price of an item with similar products available locally. Many ebayers’ offer wholesale bulk amounts at quite reasonable prices – for instance for labrets you can purchase bulk lots with different coloured gems – one for each day of the week. Ebay can also be a good place to get those unique jewellery pieces.


          Piercing          Gauge          Length            Recommended jewellery

  • Ear lobe          14 - 16g        10mm+             Horseshoe, captive bead, bananabell, labret
  • Ear cartilage    14 - 16g        10mm+             As above
  • Conch             14g                19 - 20mm       Captive bead, horseshoe, bananabell
  • Tragus             16g                9mm                Labret, horseshoe, captive bead
  • Septum            14 - 16g        10mm+            Horseshoe, captive bead
  • Bridge              14 - 16g        10mm+           Barbell, bananabell
  • Eyebrow          14 - 16g        9 - 10mm        Captive bead, barbell, bananabell, horseshoe
  • Nostril (ring)     16g               10mm             Captive bead, horseshoe
  • Nostril (stud)    16g                6 - 8mm         Hook stud, labret 
  • Lip (ring)          14g                10 - 12mm     Horseshoe, captive bead
  • Labret              14g                8 - 10mm       Labret       
  • Monroe            14 - 16g        8 - 10mm       Labret   
  • Tongue             14g               15 - 16mm      Barbell, bananabell, labret
  • Nipple (female) 14g               12mm+           Captive bead, horseshoe, barbell, bananabell
  • Nipple (male)    16g               10 - 12mm     As above          
  • Naval                14g               12mm            Naval bananabell, captive bead, horseshoe, barbell,       


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