The Gauge Guide for Earrings: What You Need to Know

The term gauge describes the total thickness of your earrings—it focuses on the post’s width, not its length. Your earring gauge size tells you how large of a piercing hole you need to fit the item through. The gauge system is used for all types of body jewelry and is based on the wire gauge system used by electrical workers.

Gauge Earrings

Ear Gauge Size Chart

20 g0.8 mm1/32”0.03
18 g1.0 mm5/128”0.04
16 g1.3 mm3/64”0.05
14 g1.6 mm1/16”0.06
12 g2.0 mm5/64”0.08
10 g2.6 mm3/32”0.10
8 g3 mm1/8″0.12
6 g4 mm5/32”0.16
4 g5 mm3/16”0.20
2 g6-6.5 mm1/4″0.26
0 g8 mm1/3″0.32
00 g9-10 mm3/8″0.36
11 mm7/16”0.44
12.5 mm½”0.50
14 mm9/16”0.56
16 mm5/8″0.62
19 mm3/4″0.75
22 mm7/8″0.87
25 mm1”1.00

While measuring jewelry in millimeters is the norm in Europe and Asia, the gauge is used chiefly in the US. Typically, gauge sizes are identified by a number and the letters “g” or “gauge.” The rule for gauge sizes is that the greater the number, the smaller the width; for instance, an 18 gauge earring is thinner than a 10 gauge.

Generally, when people speak of a “larger gauge,” they refer to the circumference and not a bigger number; a larger gauge than 16 isn’t 18 but 12 or 10. Earring gauges range from 20 g to 00 g; when the jewelry size exceeds this, it’ll no longer be measured using the gauge. When the jewelry is larger than 00 g, jewelers begin to declare its measurement in millimeters and inches.

Why Is it Important To Know Your Earring Gauge Size?

Earring Gauge
Source: Dongguan YouCheng Body Jewelry

While it is possible to go all your life without knowing your earring gauge size, knowing it has a few advantages.

1. To Know The Earring Size To Buy

Most earrings are sized at 18 and 16, although 18 g is the more common size of the two. Therefore, most earring users would only need to slip on an 18 g earring, and they’re good to go. However, there’s a slight chance that your ear opening is a much bigger gauge than you think. 

Bigger ear openings can result from the opening stretching with age or more prominent and heavier earrings causing the opening to get wider. Sometimes, your ear piercer might have opened a bigger hole in your ear than you’re aware of.

Whatever the case, it’s essential to know the earring gauge size to buy because undersized earrings can easily slip out of your ears and get lost. On the other hand, oversized earrings can lead to injuries and infections on your ear lobes. With online shopping becoming more prevalent, knowing your earring gauge can also prevent you from the hassle of returning wrongly-sized earrings.

2. To Have Matching Piercings

Knowing your earring gauge would help you get a new piercing jewelry that perfectly match your previous ones. Most people prefer to have both sides of their ears with even piercing sizes, so if you know the size of a previous one, you can open a matching one on the other side. Also, if you want to open a new piercing that’s bigger or smaller, you can use the previous one as a reference point to determine the new gauge.

What’s The Best Earring Gauge Size?

Ear Gauge Sizes

There’s no such thing as the best earring gauge size; as with all things related to fashion, it’s a matter of personal preference. If you want a simple earring stud, you should go with nothing more than a 16 g piercing. However, you can choose to go as wide as your imagination, and ear lobes would let you.

Unlike smaller gauge sizes, it’s impossible to open a massive hole in your ear in one go. Instead, a small hole is opened and gradually stretched until it gets to your desired size. This stretching process will usually take months if it is to be done safely.

If you want to stretch your piercing safely, you should increase the gauge one size at a time, for example, from 14 g to 12 g. Each increase should be done over 2-6 months, depending on how long the ear takes to heal completely. Rushing the stretching process can cause irreversible damage to your earlobes.

How Do I Know What Gauge My Earrings Are?

If you want to buy new earrings and don’t know the gauge size to buy, you can measure your previous earrings. There are three easy methods that you can use to calculate your earring gauge.

Method 1 — Using A Gauge Wheel

A gauge wheel is a tool used to measure the gauge of earrings. Welders and electricians also use the device, so you can get it at your technical supply store. There are cheaper ones such as this Acrylic Jewelry Piercings Gauge.

To use the gauge wheel, you need to try and fit your earring into the holes on the gauge. Any spot that best fits the earring without any movement is the gauge size of the earring. The limitation of using a gauge wheel is that there is a limit to the earring size you can measure with it. 

Method 2 — Using Calipers

Calipers are also another measuring tool that can give you an accurate measurement of your earring. However, the size you’ll get would be in inches or millimeters, and you’ll need to use the chart above to convert it to gauge. Electronic calipers work best with bigger earrings and studs.

This electronic caliper is an affordable tool that you can use to get a very accurate measurement of your earring. To measure your earring gauge, you should put the earring between the prongs of the caliper, adjust the bar to make it tight, and read the size. Next, you should convert the measurement to a gauge size if it falls below 00 g.

Method 3 — Using A Measuring Tape/Ruler

The cheapest alternative to the two tools above is to use a measuring tape or ruler. The tape you use can be a tailor’s measuring tape or a carpenter’s own. Using a measuring tape or ruler to measure the earring gauge also works best with bigger earrings or studs.

First, measure the width of the earring using the tape/ ruler, then convert the size from millimeters/inches to gauge.

Why Are Earring Gauge Sizes Backward?

Understanding earring gauge sizes can be tricky for some because the measurement system is counterintuitive. Even when people understand how the gauge measurement system works, they are still left wondering why the size moves backward.

Gauge sizes are strange because they weren’t intended to be used for jewelry at all. The British wire industry created the gauge system to measure the thickness of wires, and the 1-inch steel plate was used as a reference point. Therefore, 1/8th became known as an 8 gauge, 1/16th became known as a 16 gauge, and so on.

In summary, the lower the fraction used in measurement, the thicker the wire. The jewelry industry isn’t the only copycat of the gauge system, as anesthetists also use it.

Leave a comment