Jewelry sizing for the body piercing industry is actually pretty simple. There are three types of measurements to determine the size of a piece of jewelry. You have gauges, inches, and metric units. I plan to break down all three of these methods of measuring your jewelry and hopefully it should all make a little more sense when we’re all done here.
First, let’s talk about plugs. You will usually find plugs measured in gauges up to a 00 gauge. Then the measurements will switch over to inches. Every gauge size is 1/16th of an inch. When measuring a plug, 12 gauge, or so, is the smallest size they start at. Every once in a while you’ll find some 14 gauge plugs. Then as the plugs get bigger the gauge size gets smaller, all the way up to 0 gauge. Every gauge size being a 1/16th of an inch jump in size. 00 gauge is after 0 gauge and is the last size a plug is measured in for gauges before switching over to inches. A gauge size is always an even number, although rarely odd numbered gauge sizes do exist (such as the 1G). After 00 gauge, your measurements are going to switch over to inches starting at 7/16” which is 1/16th bigger then 00g (3/8”). From 7/16” your sizing goes up with every 1/16” of an inch.
Now another way you’ll see plugs measured is in millimeters. Most jewelry made overseas will use millimeters to measure jewelry size. While most jewelry measured in inches is made here in the United States. Either form of measurement is fine, both can be easily converted from one to the other. At the end of this article I’ll include a conversion chart converting gauges and inches to millimeters.
When it comes to jewelry the sizing is also similar to plugs. The only difference is that with rings and barbells you have two measurements. One being the thickness and the other being the length or diameter. With a barbell the gauge is going to be the thickness of the jewelry. And the length is going to be the distance from ball to ball which is the measurement following the gauge and it is usually in inches. For example 14g, ½”. Meaning the barbell is 14 gauge thick and the wearing surface is ½” long. Now for a ring you have the gauge, which once again is the thickness of the ring, and the diameter which is the inside measurement of the ring. So, if you have an 18g, 3/8” ring, then the ring is 18 gauge thick, and the distance from one side of the inside of the ring to the other is 3/8” of an inch wide.
Next, let’s talk about jewelry sizes for some common piercings. The following sizes are the norm for the industry, but there are always exceptions to the rule.
Navel: 14g is the industry standard for this piercing pretty much everywhere you go. A 7/16” length is usually the size you would get pierced with, while a 3/8” is common for a downsize once you are healed.
Lip, labret, Monroe, philtrum: Usually for these piercings girls will start out with a 16g 3/8” and most guys would start out with a 14g 7/16”. With girls downsizing to a 16g 5/16” and guys downsizing to a 14g 3/8” once healed.
Earlobes: Ears can start out with something as small as 20g or 18g, and with a professional piercer, go as big as 2g. With anywhere in between being fair game.
Cartilage: There are many different parts of the ear’s cartilage that can be pierced, rook, conch, daith, snug, helix, etc. All have certain jewelry that works best, but across the board most are going to get 18g, 16g, or 14g to begin with. With a 5/16” or 3/8” curve barbell or straight barbell being the standard lengths.
Tongue: 14g and 12g ¾” barbells are the usual bar sizes to start for a tongue. A ¾” length should give you plenty of room for swelling and downsizing in 3-4 weeks to a ½” is recommended.
Septum: This piercing size can range anywhere from 16g 5/16” being the smallest, with a wide range of sizing options up from there.
Nostril: 20g and 18g are most common sizes for this piercing.
Nipple: 14g or 12g ½” to 5/8” are the most common sizes for this piercing.
This is only a small sample of piercings and the most common sizes that go with them, of course there are many more. Just remember everybody is different and sizing can greatly vary from one person to another. What might be right for your friend could be completely wrong for you. If you are unsure of what jewelry size is right for your particular piercing, check in with your local, professional piercer who should be more then happy to help point you in the right direction.
The following is a list of conversions from gauge and inches to metric:
18g = 1mm
16g = 1.2mm
14g = 1.6mm
12g = 2mm
10g = 2.4mm
8g = 3.2mm
6g = 4mm
4g = 5mm
2g = 6.5mm
0g = 8mm
00g = 10mm -
7/16” = 11mm
1/2” = 12mm
9/16” = 14mm
5/8” = 16mm
3/4” = 19mm
7/8” = 22mm
1” = 25mm
1 & 1/14” = 32mm
1 & 3/8” = 35mm
1 & 1/2" = 38mm
2" = 51 mm