Delicate Ear Adornment: Everything You Need to Know About the Rook Piercing

If you’re looking for a unique ear piercing, a rook may be what you’re looking for. While its name makes you think of a chess piece or a type of bird, the piercing got its name from Erik Dakota, who first discovered it in the 1990s when he published a picture of it in the fourth issue of Body Play magazine.

Learn everything you need to know about rook piercings, including different types of jewelry you can wear and proper aftercare.

What Is a Rook Piercing?

A rook piercing is a type of cartilage piercing that goes vertically through the ridge of cartilage directly below the helix. In order to get this piercing, a professional piercer must ensure you have proper ear anatomy. This means you will need a ridge prominent enough to support the piercing.

Depending on your ear anatomy, your rook piercing may be more visible and centered along the ridge of cartilage, or it may seem more tucked into the fold of your ear.

When you get a rook piercing, your piercer will clean the area. Next, they will mark both the top and bottom dots on your ride of cartilage. Once you have agreed upon the marks, your piercer will ask you to take a deep breath in, push the need through the top mark, and ensure it exits through the bottom.

Types of Rook Piercings

If you have the anatomy for a rook piercing, there are a few different types to consider: a standard rook piercing, double rook piercing, or a rook and conch pairing. If you don’t have the anatomy, you can always rock a faux rook piercing.

Some people are lucky and have a long enough pronounced ridge that can support a double rook, which is two parallel rook piercings.

If you don’t have the proper anatomy for a rook but like the look of it, you can opt for a faux rook. This piercing mimics the look of the top of a curved barbell or J-curve, and is a simple stud pierced near the ridge of cartilage where a standard rook piercing would typically go. One of the pros of a faux rook piercing is that you can opt for larger-sized tops or ends than you would with a standard rook.

A rook and conch combo makes the perfect pairing if you want multiple cartilage piercings. Often thought to balance each other out, there are different ways to pair these piercings.

One common way is to get a rook to conch industrial piercing, which is two separate piercings joined together by a barbell as the jewelry. However, another way is to get a rook piercing and an outer conch piercing; the curved barbell in rook piercings pairs well with a hoop in a conch.

Pros and Cons

There are quite a few advantages of getting a rook piercing, including:

  • There are tons of unique and versatile jewelry options.
  • You can hide it easily with your hair because it’s located on the inside of your ear.
  • It’s easy to sleep with because it’s located on the inside of the ear.
  • While it’s not scientifically proven, and there’s no guarantee the piercing will hit the pressure point, rook piercings may help relieve stress and/or migraines.

Some of the disadvantages of a rook piercing include:

  • It can take longer to heal than other piercings.
  • It can be more painful than other piercings due to the thicker cartilage the needle must go through during the piercing process.
  • It can be challenging to insert and remove jewelry due to its placement in the ear.
  • It can be difficult to keep clean because of its placement.

Choosing the Right Jewelry

When picking out jewelry for your initial piercing, your piercer or a counter staff will suggest a curved barbell. Although the jewelry will be the standard gauge used (16g, and in some cases, 14g), it will be longer than necessary to accommodate any swelling.

Additionally, the jewelry will be implant-grade titanium or steel, providing you with the best body-safe jewelry as it heals.

Once your piercing has fully healed, you can opt for a hoop or a J-curve which is similar to a curved barbell, but with more prominently visible ends.

When choosing jewelry for your rook piercing, it’s important that you’re conscious of the materials it’s made from. Typically, your initial jewelry will be implant-grade titanium, implant–grade steel, or gold. This ensures you won’t develop any allergies to the material used.

Many people are allergic to nickel and other materials in lower-quality body jewelry, so professional piercers opt for known body-safe materials. When shopping for jewelry, be cautious about anything labeled “surgical steel.” This is a hollow term that can’t be backed up. To make sure you’re buying body-safe metals, check to ensure the manufacturer or seller can provide mill certificates with ASTM or ISO code designations.

You also want to ensure that you order the jewelry in the proper size. Note down the gauge and length of the jewelry you were pierced with.

Healing Process Timeline

In general, rook piercings take longer to heal than other piercings. This is because the piercing goes through thicker cartilage, and there’s less blood supply in the area.

On average, a rook piercing takes 6 to 9 months to heal fully. However, it’s not uncommon for one to take a year to a year and a half to heal.

As your rook piercing heals, it goes through three stages:

  • Inflammation: This occurs immediately after the piercing process. This stage can last for a couple of weeks. As the name implies, you will experience swelling, soreness, and redness at the piercing site. There may also be some discharge and crust formation around the jewelry.
  • Granulation tissue formation: During this stage of the healing process, new blood vessels form around the piercing site. This stage can last from one to four weeks.
  • Epithelization: During this stage, new skin forms over the surface of the piercing. This can last from 4 to 7 months or longer.

While many other piercings require you to downsize after the initial healing period, you only need to downsize if you find the initial jewelry too long and uncomfortable once all the swelling subsides.

Rook Aftercare Routine

As tempting as picking off the crusties from the jewelry may be, the cardinal rule of piercing aftercare is not to touch your piercing. You do not need to twist or move the jewelry at all.

Instead, use a saline spray twice a day, like the ones from NeilMed or H2Ocean. To dry the area, take a clean paper towel and gently pat the area dry.

If you do ever need to touch your piercing, follow proper hygiene practices and thoroughly wash your hands with antibacterial soap first.

Try to avoid sleeping on the piercing as it heals. For infection prevention, you should avoid submerging the piercing in public bodies of water (pools, hot tubs, oceans, lakes, Jacuzzis, etc.)

In general, rook piercings are popular because they’re stylish forms of body art that allow body modification enthusiasts to show off their individuality. You can wear decorative curved barbells, J-curves, and hoops in them. While they’re less likely to get caught or snag on clothing or towels, they are prone to more swelling during the healing process and can take quite a while to heal. However, if you’re patient, the rook piercing is worth it.