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Available Gauge Sizes:

20 gauge 18 gauge
16 gauge 14 gauge
12 gauge 10 gauge
8 gauge 6 gauge
4 gauge 2 gauge
0 gauge 00 gauge
000 gauge 1/2 inch
9/16 inch 5/8 inch
3/4 inch 7/8 inch
1 inch 1 1/4 inch

 

Ear Piercings

Ear Piercing; A Look at the Historic and Modern Cultural Biases

Ear piercings are, and likely always have been, the most popular and common form of body piercing across the globe. Various forms of ear piercing have been used for centuries by civilizations across the globe as a means of both decorative and socio-economic expression. Depending upon the cultural context, pierced ears have been symbolic of everything from slavery to wealth and good luck. The earring has even been used to show that the wearer is married.

In more modern western society, the earring was primarilly worn by females for decorative purposes and was largely unseen in males until the mid 20th century when it began to be used as a form of cultural expression in the hippie and gay cultures. Today, ear and other body piercing is becoming much more widely accepted in mainstream western society. As piercing has become more popular in western society, the strong cultural stigma which existed from the late 1800's through the 1960's and beyond has largely vanished. Ear piercing has reached a level of cultural acceptance where, at least in many social circles, males can wear earrings without fear of many of the stereotypical prejudices which previously dominated western society.

Although the modern trend has been toward ear piercing becomming more widely accepted in mainstream society, there is still a ways to go before all of the negative stigma of the past has been removed. Particularly with the current popularity of multiple and large gauge ear piercing, some jewelry and piercings are subject to raised eyebrows and other negative reactions in particular social circles or situations.

Ear piercing comes in a wide variety of forms and is far from limited to the most commonly recognized piercing of the ear lobe. Some of the more popular ear piercings seen today include: standard and transverse lobe piercing, helix piercing, tragus piercing, rook piercing, industrial piercing, and conch piercing. These, and other ear piercings, are also commonly combined for multiple piercings on an individual and are often stretched to increasingly larger gauges.

Lobe Piercing

For most people, mentioning an earring brings to mind an image of a piece of jewelry worn on, or dangling from, the ear lobe. This well known piercing has been popular all over the world for centuries and continues to be the most popular piercing by far. Lobe piercings, at least in modern western society, were commonly done at 20 gauge or occasionally 18 gauge for most of their history. Today, larger sizes are becomming increasingly popular with 14 gauge becomming the new standard in many social circles.

Transverse Lobe Piercing

The transverse lobe piercing is much less common, but is gaining in popularity. This piercing also goes through the ear lobe, but rather than being pierced front to back as with a standard lobe piercing the piercing goes long ways through the fleshy part of the ear lobe. Most commonly done at 14 gauge, this piercing gives a new lok to the lobe piercing and common jewelry includes curved and circular barbells.

Helix Piercing

The helix piercing is the most common of the cartilidge piercings and is done the curved lip at the top of the ear. This particular ear piercing has been around for quite a few years and multiple helix piercings are often done allowing the person to wear a series of captive bead ring or other jewelry adorning the rim of the ear.

Tragus Piercing

The tragus piercing goes though the part of the ear called, you guessed it, the tragus! The tragus is that small piece of thick cartilage which often sticks out somewhat like a tab directly in front of the ear canal opening. The most popular jewelry for this piercing is the captive bead ring, and most tragus piercings are done at either 16 gauge or 14 gauge.

Industrial Piercing

Industrial ear piercing describes a piercing technique where multiple (usually two) piercings are done inline with each other and a single long straight barbell is worn connecting them. The most commonly seen industrial ear piercing involves 2 piercings through the helix at a diagonal angle. Some industrial ear piercings involve one piercing through the helix and the second one through the tragus or another part of the ear. Flexible shaft barbells, made from PTFE or Bio-Plast are becomming more popular in this application for the increased comfaort as compared to a steel or titanium barbell. To maximize comfort and minimize healing time, it is very important that the two piercings be exactly inline with each other.

Rook Piercing

Probably the most painful of the various ear piercing to have done, the rook piercing is less commonly seen. This type of ear piercing goes through the thick cartilage just above the tragus and below the helix. Sometimes called an anti-tragus piercing, this piercing varies in pain and difficulty for the piercer based on the anatomy of the ear. Some people have a very pronounced rook area and others do not.

Conch Piercing

The term conch piercing refers to a fairly wide variety of ear piercings where the piercing is done through the cartilage of the ear between the helix and the tragus. Conch piercings are named for this section of the ear's resemblance to a conch shell. Similar to a rook piercing, this one can be quite painful in some people.

Heavy Gauge Piercing

A very popular, and ever increasing, trend these days is the practice of stretching, or "gauging up", a piercing to a larger gauge size. With ear piercings, the standard lobe piercing is the most commonly stretched. Ear lobes can be stretched to unbelievably large sizes so long as proper care is taken during the stretching procedure and the stretching is done only a size or two at a time. Allowing the ear lobe to heal between stretching minimizes the risk of tearing.

For more information on the best methods for stetching a piercing to a larger gauge size, please read our Stretching a Body Piercing article.

 

 


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