It’s not uncommon to hear people talk about “ear gauges” or requesting “ear gauge jewelry”. The word “gauge” is often used instead of a correct term for certain jewelry pieces, typically those made for stretched piercings, such as plugs or flesh tunnels. While everybody will understand what you mean when you say “gauge”, it’s important to know what this term truly means and what are common terms used for jewelry pieces made for stretched piercings.
Are Gauges Large Jewelry?
No, “gauges” are not large jewelry. They are not even stretched piercings. Using this word to talk about jewelry or stretched piercings is not correct. This isn’t what the word “gauge” is about. The word itself is not related to stretched piercings or large jewelry pieces alone. In fact, any piercing and any jewelry has their gauge.
A “gauge” is a measurement. It is the size of the piercing hole and also the size of the jewelry. You are pierced with a needle of a particular gauge, and such a needle produces a hole of the same gauge. In order for your jewelry to fit, you need to wear jewelry of the same gauge as your piercing. This is why it’s important to know the gauge you are pierced with, because this is the only way to order jewelry that will fit you perfectly.
There are many different gauges available, because there are different needles. Thin needles produce small holes and in this case you need to wear small gauge (as in: thin) jewelry. Even these small holes and thin jewelry pieces have their own gauge. “Gauge” is not reserved for big piercings alone.
It’s also important to know that “large” and “small” is somewhat counter-intuitive when it comes to gauges. The smallest, thinnest gauges are labeled with the largest number. Bigger, thicker and larger gauges are labeled with a smaller number. For example, gauge 18 and gauge 16 are considered small gauges. Large gauges are labeled as gauge 4, gauge 2 or gauge 0. There are even some very large gauges labeled as gauge 00 or even 000. The smaller the number, the larger the jewelry and gauge in question is.
There are special Gauge Wheels that can help you choose your jewelry or check which gauge your jewelry is. Typically, Gauge Wheels are made for larger gauges only (usually gauge 8 and up), but it’s always important to know the gauge of your piercing because it’s the only way to choose appropriate jewelry.
Stretched Piercings and Their Gauges
What about stretched piercings, then? These piercings have their gauge, just like any other piercing. Typically, piercings are done at a smaller gauge and you stretch them to a larger one once the piercing is fully healed.
Many people decide to stretch their piercings to a larger gauge. If you perform stretching carefully, you can successfully change the gauge of your piercing. After a few weeks, you can try again and stretch to an even larger gauge. Over time, it’s possible to stretch your piercings to very large gauges.
When you stretch your piercings to a larger gauge, it’s important to use jewelry made in that gauge, too. It’s always vital to wear appropriately sized jewelry. Whenever you stretch your piercing hole to a larger gauge, you will also need to wear jewelry of the larger gauge.
There are many jewelry types made in the larger gauges, so chances are that you will find some nice jewelry for your piercing. There are many elegant Captive Bead Rings, Segment and Seamless Rings and Screwball Rings made in all gauges, including the large ones.
Also, there are certain jewelry pieces made for large gauges only. Ear plugs, flesh tunnels, earlets, spirals and other similar jewelry types are made in large gauges only. These jewelry types are specially designed for stretched piercings. When people say “gauges” and think of jewelry, these are the jewelry types they have in mind.
However, referring to jewelry as “gauge” is not correct. Remember: “gauge” is a measurement. Plugs, tunnels and earlets are jewelry. Those are two different concepts altogether and you should not confuse them.