Internally vs Externally Threaded Jewelry: Which is Right for You?

Many people who get body piercings see them as an adventurous and interesting move. However, after getting the piercings, one of the things you must check when selecting your jewelry is the type of threading on it. Most of the body piercing jewelry you’ll find are externally or internally threaded, and it’s important to know the distinction between both and which you should choose.

What is Externally and Internally Threaded Jewelry?

When a piece of jewelry is referred to as threaded, a spiraled ridge allows you to screw a ball on and off the jewelry. Threaded jewelry works similarly to a bolt and nut. You can find it on jewelry like barbells, circular barbells, and curved barbells. The spiral that appears on the end of the jewelry is known as the “thread”.

External Threading

External Threading Jewelry

This is the type of threading in which the thread is located on the outside surface of the jewelry. External threading looks exactly like a bolt and would have another thread on the inside of the ball, which is screwed to the jewelry. This external threading is more commonly used on cheaper jewelry because it is easier to do than internal threading.

Internal Thread Jewelry

Internal Threading Jewelry

Internally threaded jewelry has the thread located inside the jewelry and isn’t visible to the eyes like external threading. The fact that there is no external thread on this type of jewelry allows it to slide smoothly in and out of the pierced area. The jewelry is usually held in place with a secondary part that acts as the “male” and gets inserted into the internal thread.

Internal threading is a more complicated process and is mostly found on more expensive jewelry. There was a time when seeing that jewelry is internally threaded was a stamp of authenticity and mark that it was high-end. However, these days there is cheaper jewelry that uses this internal threading method, so you must do your due diligence.

Comparing Internally and Externally Threaded Jewelry

internal vs external jewelry threading

To buy threaded jewelry, you’ll have to choose between internally and externally threaded jewelry. If you’re wondering which one is better and why below are some pointers to help you make the decision.

1. Comfort

The type of thread your jewelry has is crucial if you’ve just gotten a new piercing. Since a new piercing is an injury to a part of your body, you don’t want something that constantly scratches and causes you more pain. 

As small as the thread on externally threaded jewelry looks, constantly scratching against your injured skin can be very painful. The more tight-fitting the jewelry is to the piercing, the more painful it would be, and you can do more damage to your body. In such cases, the best bet would be to go for internally threaded jewelry since it slides in and out very smoothly.

However, the scratch might not be consequential when your piercing is completely healed. Externally threaded jewelry is, therefore, best for those with completely healed piercings and a terrible idea for fresh piercings.

2. Hygiene

Still, on the issue of fresh piercings, you have an open wound on that pierced part of your body, and you should protect it from bacteria. The thread of your jewelry can be a good hiding place for bacteria over time; therefore, you should sterilize your jewelry before putting it on a fresh piercing. 

If your jewelry has an internal thread, it’s easy to clean the part that comes in contact with your skin since it’s a smooth piece of metal. External thread on your jewelry would directly contact your fresh piercing, which can transfer the microorganisms to your body. 

Even when you want to sterilize the jewelry, it’s harder to completely clean the externally threaded jewelry. Your hygiene is a key reason why you should select only internally threaded jewelry to be used on fresh piercings.

3. Price

Most of the internally threaded jewelry you’ll find on the market are jewelry made from high-quality materials like surgical-grade stainless steel, titanium, or gold. Top jewelers mostly make internal threads because they are difficult to craft. 

The days of being certain that you’re buying high-grade jewelry because it’s internally threaded are gone. There is low-quality internally threaded jewelry, although this is not so common. Generally, jewelry with external threads costs way less than internally threaded ones.

4. Standard Patterns

One difference that internally threaded jewelry has to external is the consistency in thread patterns. All internally threaded jewelry has only two thread patterns– M1 for 18 and 16-gauge and M1.2 for 14 and 12 gauge. This means that you can interchangeably use the balls on internally threaded jewelry, and they would fit if it’s the same gauge.

With externally threaded jewelry, there are no strict standards to the thread patterns on the jewelry or ball, and it’s a matter of “to each jeweler his own”.

5. Intricate Designs

Some jewelry designs cannot be achieved using external threading and would require internally threaded jewelry. For instance, if you want the other end of your jewelry to be a gemstone, it’ll be very difficult in most cases to create a thread in the stone. The best option would be to set the stone into a base with a male end to be inserted into the internal thread. 

Also, if you want a flat, lower profile bottom for your jewelry, external threading won’t be able to do the job.

Externally vs Internally Threaded Jewelry – Which is Better?

When you objectively compare the differences between internally and externally threaded jewelry, it’s hard to go against internally threaded. However, one factor that might sway opinions back in favor of many is the price difference you’ll likely find on both threading types. 

If you have an old piercing, there’s no reason why you can’t comfortably use externally threaded jewelry. However, if you want to use your body jewelry on a new piercing, you should not consider using externally threaded jewelry. On the rare occasion you get externally threaded jewelry, it would be better if you don’t take the jewelry off often until the piercing is healed.

Big organizations like the Association of Professional Piercers [APP] and companies like Anatometal Inc rave about internally threaded jewelry. Companies like these who care about producing and promoting quality body jewelry are worth listening to.

Is Threadless Jewelry Better?

While some might argue between internally and externally threaded jewelry, there is an alternative that others prefer, known as threadless jewelry. Threadless jewelry is a secure and easy set of body jewelry; these types of jewelry are easy and safe to insert and remove. The absence of threads on jewelry makes it more secure and less likely to get lost or detached.

Each threadless attachment includes a straight pin on the back. When the piercer bends slightly, it causes the pin to lock into place when forced into the threadless labret or barbell shaft. 

A single threadless attachment will fit universally into an 18g, 16g, 14g, and 12g threadless labret or barbells because they are not gauge-specific. Threadless jewelry might be the more obvious choice of the three as you’re also guaranteed that your fresh piercing won’t be further bruised, unlike external threading.

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