Ear Gauge Sizing Choosing the Right Size

Body jewelry is a great way to show off your style and add a bit of flair to your look. But knowing what body jewelry gauge to get can be tricky. Below, we're going to go over gauge sizing and what size may be best for you.

Body Jewelry Gauge Basics

Before we get to size recommendations, let’s first cover some jewelry gauge basics. Gauge (G) refers to the thickness of body jewelry. It also refers to the size of the hole in the body. Length (L) refers to the length of the shaft of the design. For captive bead rings and circular barbells (also called horseshoes), length refers to the inside diameter.

One thing you might have noticed about body jewelry gauge taxonomy is the odd numbering. You might ask yourself: "Why does a smaller number means a larger gauge size?"

We know this can be confusing, especially if this is your first piercing. The reason for the counterintuitive numbering has to do with the American Wire Gauge (AWG) system.

This sizing system dates back to 1857 to size electrical wires. While the numbering seems odd for earrings and other body piercings, it makes sense for wires. Thinner electrical wires have more resistance to electrical current. Thicker wires had less. So a thin wire that's sized as 20 gauge had more resistance than a thinner wire sized as 16 gauge.

As earrings and other body jewelry became popular, many jewelers adapted to the American Wire Gauge as their sizing system. The key thing to remember is that a smaller gauge number relates to a thicker earring. So, an earring that's a 16 gauge is thicker than an earring that's a 20 gauge.

What Gauge is an Ear or Nose Piercing?

At Pagoda, ear piercing is done using 20 gauge piercing earrings. These are among the smallest sizes and are designed to create small holes sized for standard pierced earrings. This is the gauge commonly used for nose piercings as well.

Larger gauges, usually 14–18, are used for other areas like the belly button, lip, tongue and eyebrow. Stretchers can be used to enlarge a piercing in the ear or tongue gradually and with little discomfort. Stretchers are great for creating holes for larger gauges.

So, exactly what gauge is right for your ear piercing? To answer this, we'll go over the common ear piercing areas.

Areas of the Ear

Our piercing professionals can assist in choosing your ideal size, but below are the most common gauges we use depending on the area. As a note: most ear piercings are in the lobe at the bottom of the ear or the cartilage.

For the lobe, the gauge we recommend is usually 20. For the cartilage, it depends on exactly where in the cartilage you pierce.

The Forward Helix is the top front part of the cartilage, near where the ear connects to the head. The most common gauges for this are the 16g, 18g and 19g.

Next to the Forward Helix is the Helix or the outer rim of the ear that stretches down near the earlobe. Typical earring sizes for this part of the ear are 16g, 18g, 19g and 20g.

Inside the Helix is the Anti-Helix. This is sometimes called the snug because it rests snugly up against the Helix. Gauges for this area are 16g, 18g and 19g.

Under the Forward Helix is the Rook. The Rook separates the inner and outer portion of the cartilage. The most common size people wear here is 16g.

Next to the Rook is the Conch. It's called the conch because its shape resembles a conch shell. The gauges worn here are 16g and 19g.

Beside the Conch is the Daith, sitting just under the Rook. The jewelry size worn here is 16g. Under the Daith and above the lobe is the Tragus. Gauges worn here are 16g and 19g.

All these piercings have many jewelry styles to choose from. To learn more about body jewelry, check out our body jewelry guide.

Get the Right Ear Gauge at Piercing Pagoda

Piercing Pagoda has many earring gauges and styles to choose from. Check us out online or in-store to see all the jewelry we have to offer.


Gauge Chart

20 gauge = 0.812mm

18 gauge = 1.024mm

16 gauge = 1.291mm

14 gauge = 1.628mm

12 gauge = 2.053mm

10 gauge = 2.588mm

8 gauge = 3.264mm

6 gauge = 4.115mm

4 gauge = 5.189mm

2 gauge = 6.544mm

0 gauge = 8.251mm

00 gauge = 9.266mm

Image are for approximate reference only, please see metric measurement (in millimeters) in actual size.

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