Gauge


Looking for a new piece of jewellery but aren't sure which thickness is right for your piercing? Read on to find out all you need to know about piercing gauges.

Understanding Gauges

One of the most common questions our piercers hear is 'what size jewellery do I need?'. Whilst making sure the diameter of the jewellery is big enough to accommodate the area of your piercing is obvious, it's perhaps even more important to ensure that the thickness or gauge of the jewellery is appropriate.

It may not seem like a big deal to wear jewellery that is slightly thicker or thinner than recommended, however there are negative effects from wearing ill-fitting jewellery which are:
  • Wearing jewellery that is too thin (has a high gauge) could result in the jewellery slipping out. In the case of a BCR, if the gauge is too high it may rotate through the piercing hole easily, causing irritation and rubbing to the piercing; this rubbing and shifting of jewellery can create blisters and potential infections at the piercing site.
  • Wearing jewellery that is too thick will not only cause pain and discomfort during insertion but will unnecessarily stretch the piercing hole. Unless you are looking to stretch your piercing holes, wearing jewellery with a thick gauge will simply result in a larger hole that is more noticeable if you ever remove the jewellery and may make it difficult to ever wear normal jewellery again. (For example if you stretch you ear lobes you may not be able to go back to wearing normal earrings as they will slip through the hole.)
You wouldn't wear a pair of shoes that were too small or too big, so the same consideration should be taken when choosing your piercing jewellery. Our trained piercers are always readily available to advise and help you when purchasing jewellery for an existing piercing and will select the best-fitting jewellery for your anatomy whenever they perform a new one.

Gauge is the term used to measure the thickness of a piece of piercing jewellery. It may seem odd, but it actually works in reverse so that the higher the gauge of the jewellery, the thinner it is. For example a barbell that measures at a 10g (10 gauge) is actually much thicker than one that measures at an 18g (18 gauge). 

Generally, the smallest gauge of jewellery we sell is 24g, which is very thin and used mainly for nose studs. Jewellery can go all the way up to a 00g (00 gauge) which is the equivalent of 10mm, this is only for stretched piercings like ear lobes and occasionally male genital piercings. There is jewellery that is thicker than even the 00g, however it is then usually measured simply in mm rather than gauge and will generally be limited to flesh tunnels and plugs, as the ear lobes are the only place that will safely accommodate such large jewellery.

Below is a chart of piercing jewellery measurements which details not only the conversion of gauges into millimeters, but also the way we take measurements of the diameter and length of jewellery, all of which are important factors when selecting a piece to fit your piercing perfectly.


Gauge / Thicknes Conversions
Diameter Conversions
Length Conversions
Gauge Millimeters Inches Millimeters Inches Millimeters Inches
18g 1.0mm 0.040" 10.0mm 0.400" 6.0mm 0.236"
16g 1.2mm 0.047" 12.0mm 0.472" 8.0mm 0.314"
14g 1.6mm 0.062" 14.0mm 0.551" 10.0mm 0.400"
12g 2.0mm 0.078" 16.0mm 0.630" 11.0mm 0.433"
10g 2.5mm 0.098" 18.0mm 0.708" 12.0mm 0.472"
8g 3.0mm 
0.118" 20.0mm 0.787" 14.0mm 0.551"
6g 4.0mm 0.157" 22.0mm 0.866" 16.0mm 0.630"
4g 5.0mm 0.196" 24.0mm 0.944" 18.0mm 0.708"
2g 6.0mm 0.236" 26.0mm 1.023" 19.0mm 0.748"
0g 8.0mm 0.314" 28.0mm 1.102" 20.0mm 0.787"
00g 10.0mm 0.400" 30.0mm 1.181" 22.0mm 0.866"

Here is a list of which jewellery gauges are usually appropriate for different piercing types. However, please note that these are general recommendations and are highly likely to change based on the individual's anatomy or style of piercing.

24 Gauge (0.6mm) Nose Studs


20 Gauge (0.8mm) Nose Studs & Nose Rings


18 Gauge (1.0mm) Earrings, Ear Studs, Add-Ons, Nose Studs & Nose Rings


16 Gauge (1.2mm) Nose Studs, Nose Rings, Balls & Add-Ons, Cartilage Barbells, Eyebrow Bars, Labrets, Lip Rings & Fake Ear Plugs


14 Gauge (1.6mm) Balls & Add-Ons, Navel Bars, Barbells, Labrets, Lip Rings, BCRs, Tongue Barbells, Nipple Barbells & Rings


12 Gauge (2.0mm) BCRs, Barbells, Stretching Crescents, Tapers, Nipple Barbells & Rings


10 Gauge (2.4mm) Stretching Jewellery & Barbells


Higher Than 10 Gauge Exclusively Stretching Jewellery & Male Genital Jewellery


The safest and best way to select jewellery that's perfect for your piercing and will fit well is to visit one of our stores and speak to our professional piercers who can offer expert advice in choosing the best fit.

Article Disclaimer: The information contained here within is based on our experience as one of the UK’s largest piercing chains. Please note that each individual’s experiences will be subjective and therefore each person will have a different experience of pain, healing and maintenance. For more information, please view our article guides terms and conditions page.

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