How is body jewelry sized/measured?

How to Body Jewelry is Sized/Measured

When shopping for body jewelry, you’ve probably noticed that it generally has 2 measurements, one for its thickness (aka gauge) and one for length. It’s crucial for your comfort and the health of your piercings that your jewelry is properly sized for your piercings.


For jewelry like barbells and rings, this measures the thickness of the wire your jewelry is made from. Jewelry made in the US uses the Brown & Sharpe wire gauge (aka American Wire Gauge) for sizing. This system can seem rather unintuitive as a smaller number denotes a thicker wire. That means that 12g is actually thicker than 16g (see the chart below).


Length and/or Diameter

For jewelry that’s more or less straight, the second part of the size will be the length of the piece. For straight and curved barbells or flat-back/labret posts, length is measured by the distance from inside one end to the inside of the other. This gives you a more accurate measurement than overall length of the piece, as this is the actually useable length and will not change with the size of the ends. For most piercings, especially oral piercings, it’s crucial that this length matches the length of your piercing as closely as possible so jewelry doesn’t move excessively or snag easily.

For ring shapes and circular barbells, the diameter is the inside diameter of the ring. This means that pieces at a larger gauge with the same diameter will appear larger.

With plugs and eyelets, you’ll often see a measurement called “wearable area” or “wearable length”. This is similar to the length measurement of barbells, in that it’s the area that your ear will be able to actually fit. For single flare designs it’s the length between the flare and where an o-ring will securely sit, while for double flared designs, it’s the length between the flares.