It seems we get questions on a daily basis about body piercing gauges. Those questions run the entire gamut from what piercing gauges are common for specific body piercings to what piercing gauges convert to in other measurements and even how to stretch piercings to larger gauges.
In order to help clarify some of the confusion regarding the gauge sizing of body piercing jewelry, we have decided to include a page which describes the methods by which body piercing jewelry is measured and a conversion chart which displays the more common gauge sizes in various formats including:
- Decimal Inches
- Fractional Inches
See the charts located further down on this page for conversion data on the most popular piercing gauges and ball sizes.
In addition to questions concerning the decimal or metric equivilants of different piercing jewelry gauge sizes, we are often asked specifically what the other measurements associated with body piercing jewelry mean and exactly how they are measured. While we will not be able to answer every possible question on this subject here, we will include specific information about the measuring of some of the more popular styles of body piercing jewelry.
The listed length of a barbell refers to the distance between the balls. It is the shaft length, not a total overall length of the piercing barbell.
Initial barbell length will depend upon the piercing. Tongue piercings, for instance, are generally done at 14 gauge with a 3/4 inch (19mm) barbell which is later changed out to a shorter 5/8 inch (16mm) barbell. The initial barbell is longer to allow room for swelling and aid in the healing process.
Belly Button Rings & Curved Barbells
With belly button rings, and other curved barbells (such as eyebrow piercing jewelry), the length measurement refers to the distance between the balls as measured in a straight line. It is not the measurement of the shaft along the curve, but rather a measurement between the balls at the closest point.
Navel piercings are done at 14 gauge and the initial piercing will almost always be 7/16 inch (11mm) long. Depending on your body you may later want to go to a 3/8 inch barbell although many people will still wear a 7/16 inch even after healing.
Captive Bead Rings (cbr)
Captive bead rings, in addition to being listed by gauge, will have a diameter measurement. This diameter refers to the distance across the ring at its widest point and is measure at the inside. It is not an overall diameter; it is the internal diameter of the ring.
Horseshoe Rings & other Circular Jewelry
Similar to captive bead rings, horseshoes and other circular style body piercing jewelry has a diameter measurement which refers to the inside diameter as measured between the two furthest points across the inside of the piece of jewelry.
Labret Piercing Jewelry
With labret jewelry, the length measurement is the shaft distance between the inside portion of the disk and the ball or spike at the other end.
Labret piercings are commonly done at both 14 gauge and 16 gauge. The initial labret (monroe) jewelry will generally be 3/8 inch (10mm) long and will be changed to a shorter 5/16 inch (8mm) after the labret piercing is healed and the swelling has gone away.