Body jewelry sizing is a little tricky at first glance, but it’s easy once you understand the gauge system!
There are two main systems of measuring body jewelry sizes:
- Gauge (“ga" or just “g")
- Millimeter (“mm")
(Gauge is pronounced to rhyme with “mage" or “sage.")
In the United States, the gauge system is much more common than millimeter measurements. Here’s how it works.
Gauge Size Chart
Ear Gauge to MM Conversion Table
|28 mm||1 & 1/8"|
|32 mm||1 & 1/4"|
|35 mm||1 & 3/8"|
|38 mm||1 & 1/2"|
|41 mm||1 & 5/8"|
|44 mm||1 & 3/4"|
|47 mm||1 & 7/8"|
How Do Ear Gauge Sizes Work?
Gauge sizes are a little counterintuitive at first, because they’re literally backwards: the smaller the number, the larger the size.
Standard ear piercings are usually pierced at 20g or 18g.
Gauge sizes go up (or down, depending on how you look at it) in even numbers from there, so the next largest size from an 18g is 16g, then 14g, then 12g, and so on.
When you get to 0g, the next size is 00g (pronounced “double zero gauge"). 00g is equal to about 3/8 of an inch.
After 00g, we run out of gauge sizes, so we use fractions of an inch instead.
The next size after 00g is 7/16". The sizes go up by 1 sixteenth of an inch from there, but they’re reduced fractions, so instead of 8/16", we just say 1/2".
(And you probably thought in school you’d never have any use for learning fractions!)
Why Are Gauge Sizes Backwards?
The gauge system was first created for measuring the thickness of wire (like electrical wiring or structural cables). It’s been in use for hundreds of years, at least since the 1700s.
Back then, wire was often made thinner by pulling it through smaller and smaller holes. A thick wire might be pulled through one hole, while a thin wire might have to be pulled through a dozen times, getting thinner and thinner each time.
The gauge measuring system was created based on the number of holes the wire was pulled through. For example, a 10 gauge wire had been pulled through 10 holes, so it was much thinner than a 1 gauge wire, which was just pulled through one. That’s why the larger the number is, the thinner and smaller the actual measurement is.
The Trouble With Gauge Sizes
With body jewelry, gauges aren’t an exact standardized measurement. Depending on the brand or jewelry, one 0g pair of plugs may be slightly smaller or larger than another 0g pair.
Gauges are also tricky when it comes to stretching, because you’re not stretching the same amount every time. For instance, 8g to 6g is a stretch of 1 millimeter. But when you stretch from 2g to 0g, that’s 2 millimeters — twice as a big of a jump!
For these two reasons, it’s often a good idea to use millimeters instead of gauges and inches when stretching. (Plus, you don’t have to reduce fractions in millimeters!)
All of our jewelry is marked in both gauge size and in millimeters, so you’ll know exactly what size you’re getting. We also offer a lot of in-between sizes you won’t find elsewhere, like 1g (equal to 7mm).