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Information about piercings

1. Sizes
2. Material and hygiene
3. Stretching
4. Types of piercing jewelry
5. Returns of piercing jewelry

1. Sizes

Gauge mm Inch
18g 1.0 mm 5/127"
16g 1.2 mm 3/64"
14g 1.6 mm 1/16"
12g 2 mm 5/64"
10g 2.4 mm 3/32"
8g 3.2 mm 1/8"
6g 4 mm 5/32"
4g 5 mm 3/16"
2g 6.4 mm 1/4"
0g 8 mm 5/16"
00g 10 mm 3/8"
11 mm 7/16"
12 mm 15/32"
12.7 mm 1/2"
14 mm 9/16"
16 mm 5/8"
19 mm 3/4"
22 mm 7/8"
25 mm 1"
31 mm 1 1/4"

Small variations in size can always occur, especially so when piercings jewelry is made of natural materials like wood, as these are often handmade.

On the product pages you will find 2 measurements:
1. the gauge: this indicates how thick the part is that will go through the hole. For example the diameter of a labret bar.
2. the size: tells how large the piercing jewel itself is. For a ring or pincher this is the diameter of the complete jewel, for a plug how long the wearable part is, and for a bar the length of it excluding the ball / screw thread.
See the image below for examples on how we measure.

What size do I need?

If you do not know what size piercing you need, the best thing ot do is ask your piercer. For 'normal' earring holes 1 or 1,2 mm is perfect. Do yu have them longer than 1 year, 1,6 mm will probably fit as well.

2. Material and hygiene

Piercings can be made of a number of materials, mostly metals, stone, acrylic and organic materials. Not all materials are suitable for stretching or can be properly sterilized.
The piercings on this website come from the manufacturer and are not sterile. If you want to use them in not yet healed piercings, have them sterilized (autoclaved). Even with healed piercings it is always best to wash the jewel first with soap and warm water before inserting it. All body jewellery made of amterial below can be cleaned with mild antibacterial soap and warm (not hot) water, unless stated otherwise.

Dreadspullen do not sell pieces made from animal material (like bone). All piercings are suitable or vegeterians and vegans.


Surgical stainless steel 316L

This metal is strong and can be well sterilised. Another advantage is the fairly low price (cheaper than titanium). 316L can however release tiny amounts of nickel and is therefore less suitable for people with a nickel allergy or not yet healed piercings.


Just like 316 teel titanium can be sterilised. This steel is a bit more expensive, but it is lighter in weight and definetely suitable for those with a hard nickel allergy and healing piercings.

Piercing jewelry made of 316L steel and titanium are suitable for stretching your earlobes. It is always a good idea to clean the jewelry from time to time. You can do this with antibacterial soap and warm water.


Wood is a wonderful natural material and lightweight. Each piercing has it's unique wood print. Wood is a breathing material: it can -unless it has a thick layer of lacquer- absorb moist from the surrounding skin. Some people claim that wearing ood piercing jewelry helps to combat funny smells. It is however wise to treat the jewel as well as your skin with a vegetable oil (for example Jojobo oil or olive oil) when you think it gets too dry. Wipe it dry right away after washing t with water.
Wood piercing jewelry are less suitable for wearing long periods of time. Under the influence of warmth, water and direct sunlight wood can expand. You should never leave your wood piercing jewelry in direct sunlight or water (think about swimming for example).
Compared to metal wood has an irrregular surface and can therefore not be sterilised well. Wood piercings can be worn in healed piercings.


Stone piercing jewels are also unique and available in many types of stone. Obviously stone is heavy and because of this not used for very large jewels. And although stone seems to have a smooth surface it is not. And it cannot be sterilised.


Glass has a smooth surface and be autoclaved. But some glass jewelery can not stand the heat of the autoclave and could crack; Pyrex glass is sutable for autoclaving. Also be careful not to drop it. Just like stone, glass can be heavy.


Acryl is a lightweight and cheap kind of plastic that is available any colour you can possibly think of. The disadvatage is that acrylic cannot be sterilised and because of this not recommended to wear during a longer period of time. Only suitable for healed piercings.


Formica is plastic-like material that contains melamine. This makes it lightweight, strong and hard (harder than acrylic). Only suitable for healed piercings.

Overview materials

Suitable for not yet healed piercings? Suitable for healed piercings? Can be sterilized / autoclaved? Suitable for stretching?
SSSteel 316L No Yes Yes Yes*
Titanium Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wood No Yes No No
Stone No Yes No No
Glass No Yes Yes** Yes
Acrylic No Yes No Yes
Formica No Yes No Yes

* Only if you are sure that you do not have hard nickel allergy
** Pyrex glass can be autoclaved, other types might crack due to the heat

If you are experiencing an infected piercing: contact or visit your piercer as soon as possible! Or consult a doctor. Also for informations on how to care for a freshly made piercing you should ask your piercer.

3. Stretching

Stretching is to make holes larger; most people who do this, do it with the holes in their earlobes. By increasing the hole size you can start wearing plugs, tunnels, eyelets, spiralen or claws for example. There are some beautiful jewels available for this and it can look darn pretty. But: think this very well through before you start your stretching journey. It is very well possible that there is no way back.

How to stretch

Expanding holes is done with a tool that is specifically designed to do this: called a stretcher or expander. Their shape gradually gets thicker, so it can be inserted relatively easy. There are different shapes of stretchers, like a taper, crescent or pincher.

If you are starting out with a regular earring piercing it is best to start with a 1,2 mm (16G) or 1,6 mm (14G) stretcher. If you have your piercing over a year, it will go okay with 1,6 mm most o the times. Otherwise, start with 1,2 mm just to make sure.
After cleaning the stretcher with mild desinfectant soap you can slowl start putting it in the hole. It is okay to use the soap as a lubricant. Doing this under he shower will make it a bit easier s well. When using a taper, you could put in another jewel of the same size right away, like a plug. Most stretchers come with 1 or 2 O-rings. Slide them on to make the jewel stay in place. You will notice a warm glow and perhaps slightly painful feeling in your earlobe. This is perfectly normal and will get less in the days that follow!

Clean your jewel and earlobe 2 times a day, at least once a day, with the desinfectant soap and warm water.

Wait at least 2 months before stretching again and keep 1 mm per month as a maximum. Do not do this too quick, because the results can be very nasty: for example infections and ugly healed holes (resp. a blow out and catbutt ear). Obviously your lobe has to feel like properly healed for some time already. Do not stretch more than 25% per stretch. (From 3,2 mm to 4 mm is okay, but from 3,2 mm to 5 mm is realy too much!). Listen to your body: is it hurting real bad, just wait another couple of weeks before your new attempt.

Can I downsize to normal earring size holes again? How far can I go if I want to be able to downsize?

There are people out there who have downsized succesfully from 8 mm. But before you decide to start stretching, it is best to keep into account that downsizing is not an option!

Whether downsizing succeeds depends on several factors, for example for how long you have had thu current hole size and what the size is. Some people say that 10 mm is the point of no return. Others say it is 8 mm and there are also those who say that it is 12 mm. You can imagine that downsizing has a better chance of succeeding if you had 8 mm for just a month instead of the past 3 years.
Furthermore chances are increased if you are taking it real slow with stretching. If you are too impatient, you will end up with more scar tissue which becomes viible when you will downsize. Applying tea tree oil can improve the healing process en thus limit the amount of scar tissue.

Every body reacts differenty: with some people the healing goes real fast, while others need a longer period for healing and have more scar tissue. It is simply impossible to answer a questino like "till what size can I go to make sure I can downzize properly?"

4. Types of piercing jewelry

There are quite some different types of piercing jewelry. And ofcourse you are not obliged to use it how it was originally intended: feel free to use a labret bar as an ear stud, or pierce a dreadlock with it.


Balls are components to screw on a bar. Make sure that they have the same gauge.

Bar or barbell shaft

A bar or barbell shaft can be used for all kinds of piercings, for example your eyebrow, navel or tong (or dreadlock ;-)). Combine bars / barbell shafts with components like balls of the same gauge.


A labret is a piercing beneath the under lip. Labret bars can be combined with balls of the same gauge. A short labret bar (for example 6 mm) with screwed on ball can also be worn as an earstud.

Stretcher or expander

A term used for various piercings jewels intended to expand ear holes. Crescents, tapers, talons and pinchers are some types of stretchers.


A pincher is a type of stretcher in the shape of a croissant.


A taper is a type of stretcher, and is a rod with a diameter that gradually decreases along its length.

Plug, tunnel, eyelet


A plug is worn in stretched (ear)holes and solid; you can not look through it.

Tunnel or eyelet

A tunnel or eyelet is also meant to worn in enlarged holes, but this type of jewelery allows to look through. The names tunnel and eyelet are used for the same jewels, however tunnels often seem to have larger edges. Earlet, grommet and flesh tunnel are also names for this type of piercing jewels.

Types of plugs, tunnels and eyelets

The flare is the extruding edge that prevents the jewel from falling out of the hole. Tunnels, earlets and plugs can be without flares (solid), with 1 flare (single flare / SF) and 2 flares (double flare / DF).

SF or solid plugs/tunnels are the easiest ones to put in, because at least 1 side is the same size as the hole. The side without flare has an O-ring so it will stay in place. DF is a also good option if you have a larger size, and / or have the same size for a longer period already. Sometimes DF is with a screw-on part: 1 edge can be screwed off to make it easy to put in. This is also called a threaded plug ot threaded tunnel.

5. Returns of piercing jewelry

As a basic rule we do not accept returns of piercing jewelry due to hygienic reasons. We do understand that it can happen that a piercing jewel is not what you expected, or that you accidently ordered a wrong one. Therefore we package the piercing jewels in sealed bags. Check the contents thoroughly before you open it! As long as the packaging is sealed, you are allowed to return it and get a refund. You do however need to send an email so we can give you the correct instructions. Other rules apply as well, take a look here: FAQ - can I return products?.
When you have ordered several piercing jewels, this can mean you have to return them all. We do ofcourse send the desired ones back as soon as possible at our costs. The shipping costs and risk for returning the piercing jewelry to Dreadspullen however are for your account.