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by Staff Writer
You don't follow the crowd and your fashion doesn't either. Conventional jewelry designs won't show off your great abs or draw attention to your stunning smile. That's why every free spirit needs body jewelry for self expression. Body piercing jewelry truly lets you be creative with your fashion; people pierce, well, anything and everything. A sparkling piece of body piercing jewelry on your nose, eyebrow, lip or belly button will completely personalize your look. To maintain good hygiene as well as great style, you'll want to take extra care when deciding how to buy piercing jewelry. This body jewelry buying guide is designed to help you make an informed decision and give you the tools to choose fashion body jewelry for your collection.
Navel: A belly button piercing is very sexy, cute and flirty. Navel piercing jewelry ranges from simple steel barbells to colorful belly rings with jewels and dangling charms. Getting a navel piercing is often the first choice for body-art novices. Belly button jewelry is available in many innovative styles, including rings that expand for pregnant women and fashion body jewelry that is subtle enough to hide under clothing.
Nose: Many cultures have a tradition of nose piercing, and contemporary American culture has also fully embraced the practice. When you are shopping for nose rings, comfort will likely be one of your top concerns. Nose studs come in many styles, including screws that twist into place, L-shaped studs and nose bones, which have a small ball on the end to secure the stud. Nose rings may clip or be secured with a small ball. Septum piercings may simply slide into place, though some will need to be secured with a small ball or silicone backing. Fashionable nose rings and studs are available in every color, shape and size; choose a nose ring that you will be comfortable wearing in many situations.
Eyebrows: Most place this piercing at the outer edge of the brow. Small, straight and curved barbells fit the eyebrow piercings, and some include dangling charms or crystals. Choose simple grey or black barbells for a grittier look.
Mouth: You can choose from many different mouth piercings. Tongue piercings were very fashionable in the 1990s and still offer an edgy and stylish look. Tongue rings are typically simple, with a stainless steel bar and ball, but tongue rings with designs, jewels and logos are also available. The middle section below the lower lip (called a labret piercing) and the right corner above the upper lip (called a Marilyn piercing) are also popular places for barbells. Lip rings are youthful and hip; choose from gold-tone, silver-tone and colorful lip rings.
Ears: If you haven't had new ear piercings since you were six, it might be time to put your hair up and add some more. In addition to the many earrings you can wear on the lobes, body jewelry offers designs for the outer rim and even on the inner cartilage. A setting of two holes on the outer cartilage is called the industrial piercing; a tragus piercing is on the triangle at the front.
Ankles: Ankle bracelets are just as pretty and varied as bracelets for your wrists, but they are unique enough to be part of the body jewelry category. Gold or silver anklets shine with cute charms and glittering gemstones.
Abs: After hours at the gym, you've earned the right to display your sleek tummy. Add some style with a belly chain slung around the hips. Body chains give your style an ancient vibe; try a body chain that glitters over your shoulders and around your stomach with a swim suit or jeans and a tank top.
Toes: Decorate perfect pedicures and flirty summer sandals with toe rings. Usually sold in matching sets, toe rings adjust to fit and feature many designs.
Materials: Piercings are sensitive, and it is important to protect them with the most hygienic materials. Don't settle for cheap body jewelry. Choose body jewelry made of surgical stainless steel, surgical titanium and 18-karat or 14-karat gold. Surgical stainless steel of 316 LVM implant grade is especially scratch-resistant and resists corrosion, even with vigorous cleaning. Both surgical stainless steel and surgical titanium are used for medical implant devices. If your body jewelry is made of these high-quality materials, it won't set off metal detectors, so you can relax in the airport security line. Try to avoid using barbells made of sterling silver and base metals, which can oxidize and cause irritation, until the wound is completely healed. This also applies to gold-plated jewelry as the gold layer may rub off over time.
Gauge: Piercings are not all the same size, and body jewelry must be available in sizes to accommodate the differences. The gauge is the thickness of a piece of body jewelry and relates particularly to the size of the bar that threads through a piercing. The thickness of the jewelry decreases as the gauge number increases; thus, 16 gauge is thinner than 10 gauge. The average barbell for a belly or tongue piercing has a 14 to 16 gauge, and the average size for a nose stud is 18, 20 or 22 gauge; 24-gauge body jewelry is also available. The size of a standard earlobe piercing is 22 gauge. Consider this guide when choosing a body jewelry gauge:
Body jewelry features multiple designs constructed just for piercings and crafted of the best materials. Everyone wants to be stylish, but safety should always be a consideration. Follow the advice and care instructions of your professional piercing technician in regards to any new piercing, including types of body jewelry, materials and hygiene.
Most piercings are meant to stay the size they started as, but many people like to stretch their ear piercings to a larger size. If you want to do this, choose body jewelry in the next gauge up, insert it carefully and expect a little bit of soreness as you adjust to the new size. Wait until this new size has healed -- it's no longer sore and it stays the same size when you remove your body jewelry -- before attempting a larger gauge.