Body Jewelry Types, and How They Work

There are so many different types of jewelry out there, how do you know which ones or which kinds you need? How do they work? Why are there so many different kinds?

I’m really only going to focus on the basic types of jewelry, seeing as there are many, MANY variations on these same styles, and it would be a really long post if I were to try to include all of them. A lot of the same types of jewelry can be used for different piercings, so I’m not necessarily going to say “This type of jewelry only works for this individual piercing”. Some are that restrictive, but I’ll list them as we get there.

So, let’s get going.

Before we get started, there is going to be some terminology thrown around. However, it’s very simple. We’re going to talk about the difference between internally threaded pieces, and externally threaded. Each term refers to the barbell of the jewelry itself, not the bead that is screwed onto it.

Internally threaded means the “female” end of the threading is inside the barbell, and there is a threaded rod on the bead that is the “male” end. With these pieces, when the barbell is inserted into the piercing, there is no sharp threading exposed that can tear up the inside of the fistula. These also create a tighter seal once screwed on properly, helping to prevent germs and lymph building up and potentially causing irritation. You thread the bead into the barbell.

Externally threaded means the barbell has the threaded “male” end on it, and the beads have a recessed “female” end. With these, you thread the barbell into the bead, the opposite of the internally threaded kind. These are usually frowned upon because they tend to be of poor quality, and the threading on the barbell tends to be sharp, tearing up and causing irritation to the inside of the fistula when inserted. They also don’t created as good of a seal as the internally threaded kinds, allowing germs and lymph to build up.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s start with the types of ring jewelry.

This is a Captive Bead Ring, or CBR for short. Certain areas of the world call them BCR or Bead Capture Ring, Bead Closure Ring, among other names. But they’re all the same thing.

These very simple pieces of jewelry have a rounded barbell with a bead suspended in the middle. This piece has no threading on it at all, the bead is held in by pressure from the barbell itself. There are small dimples in the bead that the rounded ends of the barbell sits in, securing it in place.

These can sometimes be frustrating to work with. The barbell can be clamped very tightly against the bead, not allowing you to loosen it and insert the ring. One thing you don’t want to do when opening those rings is to pull them apart in opposite directions. This can distort the shape of the ring, not making it perfectly round anymore. You want to twist the sides away from each other, one up and one down, and twist them back once the bead is in place. These rings take some practice to get working right, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

My technique is to make sure the bead sits comfortably against the ends of the ring, but can still be pulled out with reasonable pressure. You shouldn’t strain and shouldn’t have to fight against it. Once you have the ring in place, put one dimple of the bead in place against the end of the ring, line up the other dimple with the other end of the ring, and push it into place. If the ring spins easily but doesn’t pop out on its own, that should be just right.

These can be worn in various ear piercings, in lips, in noses, in nipples and in genital piercings.
Common variations of this piece are the seamless ring, and the hinge ring. The seamless ring is a full circle of metal, with a segment that is removable, so there is no bead that sticks out and it gives a very smooth, seamless look to the entire ring. Just pop out the segment, insert the ring, and pop it back in, very similar to the traditional CBR. The hinge ring is similar to the seamless, though one end is on a hinge, allowing it to swing open and closed, no piece comes out completely. Simply open up the non-hinge side, insert, then close the hinge back up.

The next type of ring is the horseshoe ring, or the circular barbell.

While the shape of the barbell is similar to the CRB, the ends are very different. The ends of the circular can be removed and changed, allowing you to screw on different ends, like round beads or spikes. These can be internally or externally threaded, so be very careful when inserting and removing these pieces of jewelry.

The best way to insert them is to unscrew one end only, leaving the other end on as a sort of “stopper”. Once the barbell is in place, simply screw on the other side and it’s done. Remember “righty tighty, lefty loosey”, but in the mirror this is reversed. Use the mirror to line up the piece properly, then close your eyes and screw the piece toward the right. Closing your eyes makes it so you’re not distracted by the mirror and don’t end up screwing the piece on backwards, making it not work and getting frustrated. I’ve done this a million times before, and the frustration is immense, so closing my eyes really helps this sort of thing.

These can be worn in various ear piercings, in noses, in lips, in nipples and various genital piercings.

Now on to the various barbell shapes. These are sometimes more restrictive than rings, so I’ll elaborate as we go.

This is the basic straight, dual ended barbell.

These are pretty much a straight version of the horseshoe ring. The ends are interchangeable due to their threading. These can also be internal or external, so be aware of what you’re buying. These are probably the standard piece of jewelry for the majority of piercings in general.

These are inserted very similarly to the horseshoe ring as well. Unscrew one side only, so the attached one acts as a sort of stopper. Slide the barbell through, and screw the removed end back on, always remembering “righty tighty, lefty loosey”.

These are suitable for some ear piercings, nipples, tongues, and some genital piercings. These are not usually recommended for lip piercings because the bead on the inside of the mouth can cause damage to the teeth and gums.

Here we have the curved barbell.

This is just a curved version of the straight barbell. Nothing special, the ends still screw on and off, and it should be inserted the same way.

These are appropriate for some ear piercings, they are the standard for navels, and some genital piercings. These are also not suitable for lip piercings for the same reason the straight barbell isn’t.

This here is the flatback labret barbell.

These are the standard piece for lip piercings. They work the same way as the straight barbell, though the flat back end does not come off. Only the decorative end is removable.

These are safe for lip piercings, some ear piercings, and nostril piercings. Their flat back end is very comfortable for some ear piercings because it makes them easier to sleep on that side, the same with wearing them in the nostril, the flat inside is much more comfortable than a bead on the inside.

So there you have it, the five basic, standard types of jewelry for body piercings. Again, there are many variations on these basic styles, so shop around, shop wisely, and be patient. If you don’t get the bead into your CBR right away, take a break for a few minutes, then come back and try again. If you can’t seem to screw the end onto your labret barbell right away, take a break and come back later. Being frustrated won’t help you at all, they take practice and patience.