Cartilage Piercings & Jewelry Guide
With so many desirable ways to pierce your ears, the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing which cartilage piercing to get. And when it comes to piercing beyond the earlobe, the bar is raised even higher. Cartilage piercings have become very popular among working professionals and have been widely expressive in casual settings far and wide. Ear parties are becoming super trendy since they allow you to create your own style by mixing and matching all different types of earrings. From helix to daith and rook piercings, whatever type of cartilage earring or bling you wear will show off your personal flair.
Here's a simple guide to help you learn about the different types of ear piercings and the jewelry for them.
You're getting your cartilage pierced. Here's what you need to know:
- Most cartilage piercings are pierced with straight barbell or captive preferably made of 14k gold, 18k gold, or high quality titanium.
- The standard size for a cartilage piercing is 16 gauge (16G), but sometimes 18G is used as well.
- Make sure to follow a daily cleansing routine for you new cartilage piercing.
- Don't change out your cartilage jewelry until it has completely healed.
- Always know the size of your piercing.
Also known as the rim, the helix piercing is where the upper ear cartilage is pierced. In most instances, a piercer will puncture the ear using a free-hand method when creating a helix piercing.
Hardware: The most popular jewelry for this type of piercing are hoops such as seamless rings, captive bead rings (CBRs), or cartilage studs. The standard size is 18G, however, some consider 16G to be more ideal. Since cartilage does not stretch easily, many find it better to start off with a larger gauge in case certain cartilage earrings are not offered in a lower gauge.
Placement: Helix earrings are typically found just beyond the highest point of the rim opposite the forward helix, but it can be placed anywhere on the rim of the upper cartilage.
Healing: Depending on individual aftercare practices, helix piercings usually take anywhere from 6 months to a year to heal.
Another popular piercings is the tragus piercing. The tragus is the portion of cartilage that is located directly in front of the ear canal. The puncture itself, which usually isn't very painful due to the limited number of nerve endings in the tragus, is usually made with a small gauge hollow piercing needle.
Hardware: A cartilage stud with a flat disc backing is typically used in the tragus, but small captive bead rings or hoops are also common. We have a great selection of gold tragus earrings to choose from when you're ready to change out your jewelry.
Placement: The tragus is generally pierced through its center. Your piercer will use a low-gauge needle that's either straight or curved, depending on their preferred technique.
Healing: Tragus piercings can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months to heal, depending on care.
Industrial Piercing / Scaffold
More commonly known in the States as an industrial piercing, a scaffold piercing is the combination of any two piercings made with a hollow piercing needle to connect a single straight piece of jewelry.
Hardware: A 14G 1-inch industrial barbell is commonly used as industrial piercing jewelry, however a 16G is sometimes considered. It’s not unusual to use cartilage studs as the starter jewelry, which will be exchanged for a barbell after healing is complete. Cartilage studs used for industrial piercings will often result in faster healing, but it's more difficult to align the piercings with this technique.
Placement: An industrial piercing specifically refers to a perforation of the helix and anti-helix. Positioning may vary depending on preference, but the most popular placement spans from the forward-helix, closer to the head, to the lower section of the helix, close to the auricle. The barbell is first inserted from behind the ear and goes diagonally towards the front of the upper cartilage and through the second piercing. The barbell is then secured using a screw-on bead fastened directly behind the second hole.
Healing: The industrial piercing typically takes 6 months to 1 year to heal depending on the individual and aftercare practices.
The snug piercing is placed in the middle fold of the inner ear cartilage toward the rim of the ear. Placed neatly among the folds of your ear, the snug piercing certainly lives up to its name.
Hardware: Because of location of the snug piercing, only small earrings like curved barbells or small hoops can be used for this piercing style.
Placement: Nestled near the lower-mid portion of the ear’s outer rim, snug ear piercings pass through the cartilage above your anti-tragus, producing a snug fit.
Healing: The healing process for this procedure ranges from 2 - 4 weeks, but full healing can take up to one year.
The daith piercing involves the perforation of the crus of the helix (the flap of cartilage right above your ear canal) using a curved needle so as not to puncture or damage the surrounding cartilage. A receiving tube may be used to assist in the procedure to ensure that the needle is caught on the other side.
Placement: The daith will only be placed in the fold of cartilage directly above the ear canal.
Healing: Estimated healing time is 4 months to 1 year.
An anti-tragus piercing sits opposite the tragus piercing and fits similar types of jewelry.
Hardware: Small gauge studs, barbells, and captive bead rings are the ideal types of jewelry used for the anti-tragus piercing.
Placement: Placed within the portion of cartilage opposite the ear canal, the anti-tragus proves to be a unique alternative to the tragus piercing for those who want something a little more unique or have a tragus that's too small for piercing.
Healing: Anti-tragus piercings can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to heal, depending on care.
Undeniably the most common area to be pierced, the lobe is considered both the largest and softest part of the ear. Due its size, the lobe is capable of accommodating as many as three or four piercings.
Hardware: Lobe piercings are usually done with a very small gauge. You can choose earring studs, hoops, dangles, or open hoop dangles. The best type of jewelry for your ear piercing are gold earrings, as many people with metal allergies can tolerate nickel-free 14k gold in their piercings.
Placement: The size and space of the lobe allows for a multitude of placement options. It's up to your preference.
Healing: With the most soft-tissue found anywhere on the ear, the earlobe also takes the least amount of time (approximately 1 to 2 months) to heal.
The conch piercing has two types: the inner conch piercing and the outer conch piercing. The inner conch is located lower in the ear, while the outer conch is located closer to the helix.
Hardware: A variety of jewelry can be worn here including barbells, large diameter CBRs or other hoops, and studs.
Placement - The conch refers to the cartilage at the center of the ear. The inner conch piercing is the cup-shaped portion adjacent to the ear canal, while the outer conch is the flat cartilage portion below the helix. When piercing either conch, a 14G barbell is recommended, but a 16G would still yield a healthy piercing.
Healing: The healing period can be extensive at up to 12 to 18 months for full healing.
Widely considered one of the more painful piercings, the rook piercing is a relatively difficult procedure.
Hardware: Piercers will often use a 14G or 16G needle with a CBR or curved barbell as starter jewelry for the rook piercing, though once your piercing is healed, there are tons of great gold jewelry options for rook piercings.
Placement: The rook is located in the anti-helix of the ear. The exact placement will probably depend upon your ear's anatomy and whether the piercer can properly reach the area for a clean, healthy piercing.
Healing: Like other cartilage piercings, the rook piercing could take around 12 - 18 months to fully heal.
Hardware: Curved or straight barbells and captive bead rings are ideal for this type of piercing. The type of jewelry you can use will depend upon the anatomy of your ear; curved barbells are best for attached earlobes while detached lobes prefer straight barbells.
Placement: A horizontal transverse lobe piercing travels from the edge of the lobe closest to the cheek to the middle-edge of the earlobe. With an attached earlobe, the piercing is placed a little lower. Other variations of the transverse lobe include the vertical and diagonal lobe piercings.
Healing: On average, the healing process for transverse lobe piercings can take anywhere from 2 to 10 months.
A variation of the helix piercing, the forward helix piercing is when the portion of the upper ear cartilage closest to the head is pierced. In most instances, a piercer will puncture the ear using a free-hand method when creating a forward helix piercing. It's also quite common to pierce the forward helix multiple times for a double- or triple-forward helix.
Hardware: The most common body jewelry types for the forward helix piercing are CBRs, seamless hoops, or small helix studs with flat disc backing. The standard hole size is typically 18G.
Placement: The forward helix consists of any piercing between the apex of the helix and where the helix joins the head.
Healing: Depending on individual aftercare practices, forward helix piercings may take anywhere from 6 months to a year to heal.
A dermal punch uses an extremely sharp blade to make a perfectly cylindrical piercing within the ear’s cartilage. A portion of the skin is completely removed in order to create a larger gauge in areas, like the cartilage, where stretching the skin is either difficult or impossible.
Hardware: When performing a dermal punch, a 14G up to a 0G plug can be fitted once the procedure is complete.
Placement: Dermal punches can be performed in various areas of the ears’ cartilage, but should NEVER be used on earlobes since it will remove tissue and hamper future stretching with lobe plugs.
Healing: Although a large chunk of tissue will be removed, dermal punches will often take less time to heal than their pierced counterparts. Healing times will depend on the location and size of the punch.