How to Choose the Right Gauge Size for Your Body Piercing Jewelry

Mar 01 — 4 mins read

How to Choose the Right Gauge Size for Your Body Piercing Jewelry

Choosing the right gauge jewelry can be daunting if you're new to piercings. With various numbers and terms being thrown around, it can be off-putting if you're unfamiliar with body jewelry and modifications.

This article will explain exactly how to choose the right gauge and size for your body piercing. Whether you're a reseller looking to advise your customers or someone looking into body jewelry for themselves, you'll know what to buy and why by the end of this blog post.

Once you know the gauge and size you need, be sure to check out ShiningLight's Body Jewelry range of wholesale body jewelry. From barbells and belly chains to dermal anchors and plugs, our collection uses the best materials and most unique designs.

What is a body jewelry gauge?

The gauge of your body jewelry indicates how thick the bar that goes through your piercing is. In most cases, this is the thickness of the barbell's diameter.

Gauges work a little counterintuitively in that smaller gauge numbers are used for thicker bars. A 20-gauge barbell is a lot thinner than a 12-gauge piece.

Jewelry resellers and manufacturers will indicate the gauge with a ga number. For example, 14 gauge pieces will state "14 ga".

Gauge is also measured in millimeters (mm), with the thinnest gauges measuring around 0.8mm (20ga) and very thick 0ga bars measuring between 8-10mm.

How do I choose the right gauge?

To choose the right gauge for your body piercing, you need to consider placement. Body jewelry sizes will vary depending on which body part they are intended for.

For example, cartilage ear piercings tend to use 16ga (1.2mm) barbells, whereas lobe gauges tend to be a thinner 18ga (1.00mm).

Ideally, your piercer will have told you the gauge of your piercing, but if not, you can use the following table as a guide.

Common body jewelry gauges

Ear (cartilage)

16 ga (1.2mm)

Ear (lobe)

18 ga (1.0 mm)


14 ga (1.6 mm)


14 ga (1.6 mm)


14 ga (1.6 mm)


18 ga (1.0 mm)


16 ga (1.2mm)


16 ga (1.2mm)

Ultimately, the gauge size you choose will depend on your piercing hole size. This depends on the size needle your piercer used and whether your piercing has been stretched.

Those looking to stretch piercings need to be mindful too. Tapered body jewelry — such as ear stretchers — will give a gauge of the thickest end. This means you need to select a gauge of what you want your piercing to be, not what it is right now.

What doe size mean in body jewelry?

It's common to mistake body jewelry gauge for body jewelry size. While both are important in selecting the right piece, they are different measures.

Body jewelry's size refers to the length of the barbell or labret. This is the length of the bar that will be placed through a piercing. This length does not indicate whether a bar is straight or curved but simply the length between the two ends of a piece.

For example, a curved and straight eyebrow bar may have the same listed length but differ in appearance when worn. This is because the curved barbell has more surface area but is curved to possess the same "length size."

How do I choose the right size?

The size of your body jewelry will depend on your piercing location and your own body.

If you already own body jewelry that you know fits, measure the distance between the two ends to discover its size. For example, to find a suitable size stud for your ear, measure the thickness of your lobe. This will tell you the size you need to ensure the bar goes through.

If you don't yet own any body jewelry for your piercing, you can try measuring the distance between your piercing points yourself or ask someone to help.

Choosing the wrong gauge or size

Choosing the correct size gauge or body jewelry is essential, or you can risk damaging your skin.

Wrong gauge

Gauges should be chosen carefully. Selecting a too-small gauge can lead to your piercing shrinking over time. This may be desirable, but it can be a problem if you wish to use thicker gauges in the future.

Going for a thicker-than-usual gauge is not uncommon, with many people enjoying large piercings. However, this should be done with caution and planning. If trying to stretch a piercing, use dedicated tapered stretchers to increase the gauge size of your piercing gradually. Jumping straight to a thicker gauge can lead to infections and sore skin.

Wrong size

If you select a bar size that is too small, you can create a pinching effect. On an eyebrow piercing, for example, this can lead to irritated skin that can eventually result in a failed piercing. This happens because tighter piercings can rub the skin and restrict airflow.

Body jewelry that is too big can also cause issues. While this does not pose any immediate problems, larger length bars and hoops can become caught on clothing and your environment, leading to some nasty accidents.


Choosing the correct gauge and size of your piercing is vital to protecting your piercing and achieving the right look. While the two are often conflated, they are measures of different things. Gauge is a measure of thickness, and size is a measure of length. You can determine the gauge and size of body jewelry by looking at your existing pieces or measuring your own piercings.

For a wide range of wholesale body jewelry and more, visit Shining Light's online store today!

Our vast range of body jewelry is manufactured to the highest design and dermatological standards. Each piece comes with a lifetime guarantee, and with low minimum orders and affordable shipping rates, everyone from collectors to retailers can now enjoy our quality body jewelry.