Body jewelry sizes
Body jewelry sizes express the thickness of an item of body jewelry, using one of several possible systems.
Items of body piercing jewelry have an important common factor: the diameter of the part of the item of jewelry where it will rest in the piercing site. With the wearing of European-traditional kinds of earrings, that thickness is not an issue, because jewelry is made to use only thin wire for support, and the wearer need only have a narrow piercing hole to accommodate it. But with body jewelry, there is a wide variety of possible sizes, and wearers generally want jewelry that is the same size as their piercing site. Some wearers want increasingly larger sizes— namely, to deliberately stretch the hole. So that wearers can choose the size they want, there are standards for body jewelry sizes, used by jewelry makers and sellers.
Generally, the system of gauge-and-inches is used: In gauge notation, jewelry less than 1⁄2″ thick is typically measured in a system originally devised for measuring wire thickness. A gauge number denotes a thickness on a standardized scale which, for most purposes, starts at 20g (0.812mm thick— often used for the posts for nose studs), and increases in thickness (as the gauge number decreases) to 0g, then 00g, and rarely goes any further as these thicknesses come closer and closer to 1⁄2″. From there, sizes of 1⁄2″ and thicker are always specified in fractions of an inch. (But note that sizes thinner than 1⁄2″ are also sometimes specified as fractions of an inch; see the Conversion Table to see how these interleave with gauges.)
Even though the gauge system was originally meant for wire, it is now used regardless of whether an item of body jewelry is an actual wire, or is instead a wooden plug, a plastic ring, or any other material.
The alternative to using the gauge-and-inches system is to specify the thickness in millimeters.
This table uses data from the "AWG wire sizes" table in the "American Wire Gauge" entry.
Usage of the Systems
Some jewelry makers or sellers who express the size of their jewelry in millimeters, may also list the nearest approximate gauge-and-inches measurements for each item. Using millimeters as the primary notation is most common in Europe and Australia.
Note that in most discussions of body jewelry sizes in gauges, the word "gauge" is most commonly expressed as a "g" suffix to the number: "12g". This is in spite of it looking identical to the notation for a quantity in grams. The article American Wire Gauge system, section "Nomenclature and abbreviations in electrical distribution" shows other notations for gauge, but these are rarely seen in expressing body jewelry sizes, except for the occasionally used "ga." as in "12 ga.", which has the benefit of avoiding the ambiguity with grams.
Different Gauge Scales
Discussions of gauge in this article use the American Wire Gauge (AWG) scale. Some jewelry may still use the obsolete Standard Wire Gauge (SWG) scale instead[example needed]. SWG uses apparently the same notation, but is differently calibrated. This difference can be significant: For example, AWG 12g is 2.1mm, but SWG 12g is 2.6mm. AWG 8g is the same size as SWG 10g. AWG 000g is 10.4mm, but SWG 000g is 9.4mm.
- Jewelry wire gauge
- Body piercing
- Body piercing jewelry
- Body piercing materials
- American Wire Gauge
- Standard Wire Gauge
- SteelNavel.com Body Piercing Jewelry Size Reference — illustrating the different ways that size is measured on different kinds of jewelry