Care instructions have now been moved over to their own page.
Please update your bookmarks accordingly. Enjoy!
Conversion Chart and Size Information
Please check out our comprehensive conversion chart and size information page
which covers gauge sizes, fractional inches, decimal inches, and millimeters, up to 3".
It also covers circumference, useful for figuring out sizes of oval, teardrop, or other oddly-shaped plugs.
Keep scrolling down for information on image sizes, and to compare how your monitor displays them.
Shape, Measurement, Other Terminology and Definitions
Saddle shapes are plugs with two flares (double flared); the flares follow a continuous curve like a parabola. There is no distinct area where the wearing surface ends and the flare begins.
Cylinder shapes are plugs with straight shafts and no flares.
Rods are long cylinders.
One flares have, well, a single flare. Sometimes we'll get crazy and hyphenate it thusly: one-flares. Wow!
Labret shapes have a straight shaft with an attached round or oval disc at one end. They might be used for a variety of purposes, as they are essentially one-flares, but we call them labrets as they have most frequently been utilized in labret piercings.
Tapers are like mildly angled cone shapes that are small on one side and larger on the other. They are generally straight. We've heard these called expanders, but strongly prefer the term tapers.
Talons have a mild curve, like a slightly bent finger, and are tapered from large to small.
Claw shapes have a dramatic curve, like a C shape, and are tapered from large to small. They often have a nail head or ball shape at the big end, acting as a sort of flare to keep the claw in.
Spikes (usually used when referring to septum shapes) are straight, long cylinder shapes that are tapered down to points at both ends. Porcupine quills have this shape also.
Tusks (usually used when referring to septum shapes) are slightly curved shapes, like a slightly bent finger, that taper down to points at both ends. However, boar tusks are only pointed at one end.
Crescents are tusks that are not tapered down to points at both ends, but instead maintain their diameter until ending in flat or convex ends, like a slightly bent cylinder.
CBR stands for captive bead ring. Ours are tapered down to pointed ends and are not set with beads.
Pinchers are very tight diameter pieces often seen in septum jewelry. They are much smaller overall than CBR shapes.
Solid means there are no drilled or naturally occuring holes.
Hollow means there is a hole drilled through the plug lengthwise, or a naturally occuring hole that runs lengthwise, as with bamboo. Light can normally be seen through the hollow part. Drilled usually means a very small hole was drilled for the piece to be strung as a bead; light may not pass through these tiny holes. As natural materials tend to be brittle, walls on hollow plugs made out of natural materials are normally thick to avoid breakage. Horn and some types of bone are exceptions which may remain sturdy at thinner measurements. Other terms used to describe hollow plugs include flesh tunnels, tunnels, earlets, and eyelets. As these imply thin walls, we try to avoid those words.
Some items may have one side solid, one side hollow, as with boar or warthog tusks, whole dentalium shells, some metal plug-shaped ethnic jewelry, or bamboo pieces cut on the node.
Convex means a round end, going outward like the surface of a ball.
Concave means a recessed surface, going inward like the shape of a cave.
Diameter is the measurement used in a similar way as when referring to the size of a body piercing, for example: 0ga aka zero gauge, >5/16", or 8.25mm.
Diameter is measured at the part of the jewelry where it would normally be worn, for example, the smaller part on a saddle shaped plug (NOT the flare), the larger end of a taper, a bit back from the tip, or the largest measurement on a curved shape (for example, a spiral) that can be used. This is sometimes referred to as the 'wearing surface.' All of the diameters mentioned on our website are measured on the wearing surface of the jewelry.
Sizes listed are diameters, measured at the wearing surface (the part of the jewelry where it would traditionally be worn).
The gauge system is a way of measuring diameters and only goes up to around 7/16", beyond that, we use fractional inches. Gauge is abbreviated 'ga'. Gauge is a unit of measurement. To increase the size of a body piercing is called 'stretching.' Calling plugs 'gauges' or using it as a verb as in 'to gauge a piercing' or 'she gauged her ears' will cause us to mock you. You wouldn't say, 'she just got new wooden inches' or 'I plan to millimeter my conch piercing,' would you? No, you wouldn't. So cut it out.
Length refers to the measurement from front to back on a plug or labret, or from side to side on a septum; length runs along the same axis a piercing needle would go through a piercing. All stated lengths are total from edge to edge (not merely tip to tip of flares, which would not allow for convex ends or thick flares). Please ask for various length measurements when clarification is needed.
Flare sizes and lengths (overall, or tip-to-tip on flared plugs which may have convex ends) are generally not mentioned unless dramatically differing from what we have experienced compared to similar jewelry in the same genre. Please have us measure these for you before purchasing jewelry from us if these measurements are critical to you.
We have all types of sizes, in fractional inches, gauges, and millimeters. We'll be happy to translate between the different measuring systems for you-or check out our conversioncharts!
We carry 'in-between' and odd sizes as well. Though we will have smaller sizes in the wires of metal ethnic jewelry and hair thin porcupine quills, our jewelry generally covers the whole range, including:
16ga, 15ga, 14ga, 13ga, 12ga, 11ga, 10ga, 9ga, 8ga, 7ga, 6ga, 5ga, 4ga, 3ga, 2ga, 1ga, 0ga, 00ga,
7/16", 1/2", 9/16", 5/8", 11/16", 3/4", 13/16", 7/8", 15/16", 1",
1-1/16", 1-1/8", 1-3/16", 1-1/4", 1-5/16", 1-3/8", 1-7/16", 1-1/2", and beyond.
It's not unusual for some jewelry to measure in between sizes, for example: 'greater than 4ga but less than 3ga' (aka >4ga but <3ga), '±0ga,' '<7/16",' '13.5mm,' or even 'between 1/2" and 9/16".'
We are happy to find jewelry for you that is odd-sized, in-between sizes, or even one a bit bigger than another. We can even make custom wood or bamboo plugs in 'weird' sizes.
The symbol '>' means greater than. A bit bigger than.
The symbol '<' means less than. Just think: it looks like an L. Not so hard to remember! <L<Less than.
Greater than (>) or less than (<) refers to a bit, a hair, a smidge, roughly up to 1/64" or so off.
For example, >1/2" means greater than half inch, roughly 33/64" (since 1/2" dead on is equal to 32/64").
The symbols '> or =' (≥) mean greater than or equal to. It's really darn close, but ever so slightly on the big side. It could also mean one piece is right on, but the other piece is greater than (>) that measurement.
Vice versa for '< or =' (≤)... these symbols mean less than or equal to.
The symbol '±' means plus or minus. One piece is a bit above, and one piece is a bit below that measurement.
Erica despises the terms 'triple ought' (000ga) or even 0000ga, so don't even go there.
SMALL STUFF (minimums): Because natural materials can be brittle, we do not carry extremely small diameters of some materials. It's not that we don't want to carry certain items in small sizes - it's material limitations. The structural integrity of natural materials can be compromised if a piece is too small or has dramatic curves. In other words, it can easily break!
We generally do not recommend 8ga or smaller pieces in amber or stone.
Horn is more flexible at small sizes; we carry some shapes down to 16ga and plugs down to 10ga.
Horn shapes tend to warp (no longer lie flat) in thin sizes, such as 8ga homegirl spirals.
We tend to stick with 6ga or so for our minimum for wood plugs to prevent breakage and frustration in the manufacturing process, though we have made labrets down to 14ga in the past.
Bamboo can be quite thin and still strong, though our regular minimum is 7ga due to availability.
BIG STUFF (maximums): Some materials are extremely hard to get at large sizes.
For example, water buffalo horns are hollow at the larger base, and solid only closer to the tips, so we cannot get extremely large solid horn. We regularly carry up to 1-5/8", though we have had plugs up to 2-5/8". Very large horn shapes (such as the custom 5" spirals we had made!) have a tendency to become a bit warped.
Bone is limited to the size of the material as well. Mammoth ivory tusks can get quite large in diameter, though they tend to have cracks as the pieces get bigger. Antler can be very large and dense as well-we have had antler plugs up to 1-5/8" and could probably go bigger. Most bones have a porous marrow center to contend with that must be avoided or worked so the marrow is in the center of either solid plugs or is carved out to make hollow plugs.
Wood tends to get checks (micro-splits) at larger sizes, and material costs may rise dramatically and become difficult to obtain in the 2" and up range, though this varies widely by species. Though we have made ebony plugs over 4-1/2" in the past, ebony in particular can be extremely difficult to obtain properly seasoned and without checks in diameters of 1-1/2" and up.
Bamboo can be extremely large, perhaps up to 7" and beyond, but we do not stock a full range of sizes beyond 2-9/16", though several sizes up to 3" or so are occasionally available.
Stone can be enormous, but keep in mind weight quickly becomes a factor as the diameter increases.
Amber is priced partially on weight, and partially on the waste that it takes to make plugs. The largest we have had is 1-5/8". Beyond that the price is rather prohibitive, even if we were able to secure material that was free from areas that include fracture-like inclusions, which can be weak points where the integrity of the material may be compromised. Even then, finding two chunks that happen to have the same hue or amount of inclusions is darn near impossible. So unless you're sending us museum grade material and you won't mind too much if it breaks in the manufacturing process, or you can pay our rent for a few months so we can look for the material for one set of plugs, then your 2" amber plugs are unfortunately just not going to happen.
Almost all of our images are scanned and shown at 100percent on this website and in the catalog; exceptions will be noted in the accompanying text. Monitors may alter sizes slightly. All of our images are posted at 72dpi (so monitors should assume this scale in order to display at proper size). Images should print at correct size as long as an 'enlarge' or a 'reduce to fit' setting has not been selected.
For a comparison check to see if your monitor is reducing or blowing up image sizes, hold your own ruler up to the image above, centering it on the 3" or 23cm mark.
Alternatively, match up a coin from your collection; these are uploaded at 100percent exactly like all the others (hint to those in my country of birth: spot the shiny Oregon quarter on the 2nd row, 5th over).
Thumbnails may be shown for larger items; the border around the scan will be a different color and the text will mention to click the scan to view one at full size. Likewise, in a few cases blown-up images are posted to show detail. T-shirt designs, o-ring kits, Dayak patch and wallhangings, photographs of people, posters, book and magazine covers, as well as square thumbnail-sized icons to aid in navigating around pages on this site are shown at a reduced size only.
Pairs consist of two pieces; most of our jewelry is priced and sold by the pair unless listed.
Singles are individual pieces. Examples of items that are priced and sold by the single piece include: septum and labret shapes, quills, boar and warthog tusks, necklaces, bracelets, hairsticks, and t-shirts.
Most plugs are only sold by the pair, and we cannot split up pairs to sell only a single piece (for example, most ethnic jewelry). However, some jewelry- though prices may be listed in pairs- may be available in singles (for example: amber saddles and cylinders; many horn CBR shapes; bone tapers and bone talons; horn hairpipes; porcupine quills; python ribs; bacula; boar or warthog tusks; dentalium shells; Chinese bone scrimshaw cylinders; large hollow serpentine cylinders; any stones that are drilled; talon or rod shaped stones; pre-made burnt bamboo; custom bamboo; custom wood; Aztec clay plugs; silver Indian upper ear barbells; old Thai hilltribe omegas; new Hmong silver omegas; Koochi tribe earrings). Necklaces, bracelets, pendants, hairsticks, labrets, nostril pieces, and septums are always sold by the single piece. Please ask if you are wondering about availability of a certain style, size, or material in singles.
To avoid confusion, we do not utilize the words flesh tunnel, tunnel, eyelet, earlet, top hat, or width.
Weight is generally not listed, but quotes can be given in grams or ounces if requested.
Other types of measurements might include labret backing disc sizes and thicknesses, inside diameter on a CBR, amount of curviness on a talon, claw, or tusk shaped piece of jewelry, or, top to bottom and left to right overall lengths (for example, on a piece of ethnic jewelry or horn shape).
Please inquire about all specs for the jewelry you are ordering if they are a concern. Please remember, as most natural jewelry cannot be sterilized, jewelry returns cannot be accepted, and all sales are final.
The following is a general list of some of the natural and ethnic body jewelry that we have available.
Hue and saturation within each color category will vary widely by material, and many of the materials may have a range of several hues within a category, or may overlap into several color categories.
Indian gold, pre-columbian gold septums, vermeil Hmong omegas, areas of gold sheen obsidian
bronze fox and other earweights, light C-shaped earweights, Maasai men's copper earweights, ancient Cambodian weights, Turkana labrets, tiger's eye, tiger's iron, goldstone
mammoth ivory, tan or "black" bamboo, Aztec clay plugs, Alaskan fossilized walrus ivory labrets, some light colored horn, porcupine quills, various hardwoods (granadillo, maple, olivewood, chechen, boxwood stash box cylinders), warthog tusks, mahogany obsidian, dinosaur bone, petrified wood, tiger's eye, tiger's iron, some agates, picture jasper, serpentine
many types of silver ethnic and tribal jewelry, Fulani tribe aluminum hoops or septums, amber stash boxes, silver fox and other earweights, light C-shaped earweights, Hmong omegas, hematite, areas of tiger's iron, various iridescent shells used as inlays
clear quartz plugs or labrets, Neolithic African labrets, Naga glass earweights, citrine (with just a hint of yellow), fluorite (with green and purple bands)
bone, antler, boar and warthog tusks, mammoth ivory, New Guinea coral septum, Naga tribe shell ear ornaments, porcupine quills, python ribs, white quartz, zebrastone (striped with black), white onyx, mother of pearl talons, dentalium shells, howlite (with grey), base color of opal cabochon inlays
rose quartz, some poppy jasper, areas of leopardskin jasper, unakite (green with pink areas), fossilized Indonesian coral (primarily salmon colored)
chakte kok wood, agates (Armenian, poppy jasper, red jasper, carnelian), serpentine, cinnabar
amber, some types of agates such as carnelian, rare instances of porcupine quills
amber, bamboo, Chinese scrimshaw hollow bone cylinders, yellow jasper, some quills
jade (British Columbian, Siberian, Happy Camp, and Wyoming), aventurine, greenstone ancient Mezcala plug, amazonite, unakite (green with pink areas), green-gray agates, moss agate, bloodstone (very dark green with tiny red spots), serpentine, Persian turquoise, fluorite (with clear and purple bands)
turquoise, minty colored stones, opal cabochon inlays
lapis, sodalite, blue goldstone, blue tiger's eye, sheen on some rainbow obsidian, opal inlays
plum agate, amethyst, dyed jade, fluorite (with clear and green bands)
water buffalo horn, obsidian, black ebony, well-oiled katalox, zebrastone (striped with white), black jade, dyed agates, onyx, and serpentine, snowflake obsidian (with grey spots)
hematite, smoky quartz, some agates, some obsidian, snowflake obsidian (black background)
Please note that obsidian is never blue, transparent gold, or whitish opalescent colored.
Bamboo is not a type of wood at all, but consists of several thousand different species of grass. There is a great variety of bamboo, ranging from tiny plants to huge towering trees. Many species are light yellow, tan, or green, but some can even be purplish or so dark brown they are almost black; most species are solid in color, but some are striped or spotted. Bamboo grows rather prolifically; you can even watch some species grow!
Bamboo is generally hollow, and sections of culm meet periodically and are divided by a solid portion called the node. It is lightweight, and may be round, oval, or slightly cardiod (heart-like) in cross-section.
The outside of the bamboo (called the cuticle, cortex, outer skin, or rind) is naturally protective and should not be removed to make saddle or ring shapes, as the material located below this surface is much more porous and less dense, thus bamboo plugs are cylinder-shaped. The inside is normally whitish and may have a papery lining which is usually removed in the manufacturing process.
Our wood jewelry is made out of various high-quality hardwood species. Hardwoods are broad-leafed, deciduous trees (angiospermous), such as birch, maple, oak, walnut, and cherry, as opposed to softwoods, which are evergreen, needle and cone-bearing (coniferous) trees, such as pine, cedar, and fir. The terms do not actually refer to hardness, for example: balsa is a hardwood. The part of the tree normally used is the center heartwood, normally darker and denser than the surrounding sapwood.
There are several things to be aware of when selecting wood to be worn next to the body. These considerations include: the location and stage of healing of the piercing, general cleaning procedures when dealing with wood, the overall shape of the piece, the quality of the finish, the type of finish (usually an oil, possibly a seal) that is applied, grain structure, endangered wood species, and possible allergic reactions to wood.
Hardwoods are porous and readily absorb and release moisture, oil, bacteria, etc. Therefore, it may be harder to heal using this material. Hardwood plugs in general work best for the drier piercings, and for healed piercings. Anyone can potentially heal fine with hardwoods, but we recommend that someone be comfortable with their own healing process first, as well as being aware of their response to certain species of hardwood. Barring that, hardwood jewelry should only be worn in well-healed piercings.
Hardwoods usually have been kiln dried (or air dried) over a period of a month or more to slowly reduce the moisture content, making the woods more stable and less likely to crack, split, warp, etc. Therefore, they cannot be autoclaved; this is very likely to cause these problems. In addition, we would not suggest cleaning them with a chemical solution that is not also safe for the body, as there will be some left in the plug. They should always be handled by clean hands, and only used by one person. The strongest thing I personally would use for my plugs is tea tree oil (check for reactions to this first, some people are extremely allergic). In addition, they should be regularly cleaned with a non-chemical soap.
The overall shape of the piece should be consistent, of a good length to allow for possible movement or swelling, and appropriate for the particular area in which it is to be worn.
The finish should be free from scratches, pits, or tool marks, and consistent throughout. There should not be any grain (wood fibers) that have risen up; this is a normal action of wood, and should have been accounted for in the production process-the wood is repeatedly wetted and allowed to dry; the risen grain is sanded off. This is repeated until no grain will rise when it gets wet. This is critical, as many pieces will look fine, even shiny, but the first time it is in contact with moisture, it will become rough and inappropriate for wear. Wood may or may not shine; luster varies from species to species. An oiled plug may appear dull. Buffing wood plugs will likely leave a residue that can remain on the surface and in the pores; as buffing compound is essentially fine grit in animal fat, it is not recommended as an appropriate way to finish wood body jewelry.
The type of finish applied is usually an oil, and sometimes a sealant. Many finishing oils and sealing products contain chemicals, toxins, solvents, petroleum or animal products, pigments, etc. Something that seals a hardwood plug entirely takes away the purpose of wearing wood at all. We usually suggest a non-toxic oil or wax. Food grade oils are generally safe but may break down (turn rancid) with heat and time. They should be washed and re-oiled periodically to avoid this. Waxes can be animal or vegetable based, but may also come off with heat, or can be rubbed off with wear or while cleaning. We also do not recommend using pigment as most are chemical and solvent based, which can fade or enter the bloodstream; some dyes, such as aniline, may even be carcinogenic.
Finally, wood has grain (fibers within the wood), which are considered to be open or closed. If you can run your fingernail across the side surface of a finished wood product and feel no texture, it's probably close-grained, if it clicks into depressions in the wood, it's probably open-grained. Only close-grained woods should be used as the open grains invite bacteria and buildup. Examples of close grained woods are ebony and maple. Examples of open-grained woods are zebrawood, walnut, paduak, and mahogany.
A few species of trees that produce hardwood are regulated by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). These species are classified as threatened with extinction ("Appendix I"), or will be threatened if current trade is not drastically curtailed ("Appendix II").
Some species of wood you may run across being used to manufacture hardwood body jewelry are listed here, though there are many others not commonly used that we have not mentioned.
From Appendix I: Dalbergia nigra (Brazilian rosewood)
From Appendix II: Swietenia humilis (Mexican mahogany), Swietenia mahagoni (Carribean mahogany), and Swietenia macrophylla (Bigleaf mahogany-all populations in the Neotropics as of 15 Nov 2003);
all Guaiacum spp. also known as the "tree of life" (includes such trees as Guaiacum officinale and Guaiacum sanctum--Commoner and Holywood lignum vitae, excludes chemical derivatives).
That's right: the tree of life is endangered.
We feel strongly that products made from these species should not be bought, sold, manufactured, or utilized, including furniture, wood, inlays, and earplugs - tell the manufacturer why. Ask to see their certificates or permits or those of the importer if they do carry these species.
There are a very few select forestry operations which are sustainably harvesting these species; they must be designated so by a third party, and you should ask to see the documentation. There are some operations that are completely renewable, sustainable, the money stays within the community, and much of it is done without intrusive machinery that requires an extensive network of erosion-causing roads. Such programs include the SmartWood program of the Rainforest Alliance, the Good Wood program, and certifiers such as the Forest Stewardship Council and Scientific Certification Systems. Another option is reclaimed wood. Ask your wood suppliers, including hardwood jewelers, lumber stores, home improvement stores, guitar shops, and furniture stores if they participate in these programs or use cerfied woods.
Please visit this link to view our updated research about wood hazards.
The text below is an older summary.
Woods may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Some are more notorious than others, such as cocobolo, and have caused a great deal of people to react with them. These reactions can be extreme, ranging from mild irritation, rash, redness (vasodilation), swelling, blisters, itching, sensitization, and contact dermatitis, to cardiac effects, cancer, and anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening. Reactions may not be immediate as some allergic responses may not occur until a latency period of a few hours to several months has elapsed. Risks are normally greater to those who work with the woods due to the dust involved, which exposes a much greater surface area of the substance than a finished product would. We strongly suggest utilizing an appropriate respirator instead of a simple face mask when working with wood, especially the exotics (imported; not domestic), and those listed here. Prolonged exposure and repeated contact with wood or dust containing allergens may be more likely to ellicit responses.
Sensitization due to contact with one wood may cause cross-sensitizations to other woods containing the same or related compounds, and reactions may become more severe with subsequent exposure.
Some woods may be carcinogenic, such as red cedar and hemlock (both softwoods), and possibly beech, oak, and sassafras; some may even affect cardiac activity, such as yew (a softwood), mansonia, and greenheart.
Dymondwood is comprised of layers of hardwood (likely birch) impregnated with phenol formaldehyde resin to bind it together and dyed with mono-azo dyes. These substances may cause dermatitis, be toxic, corrosive, or lead to serious long-term health effects including cancer.
Other woods, such as teak, lignum vitae, and purpleheart, can excrete oil which may cause reactions.
Compounds called quinones, naphthoquinones (such as plumbagin), obtusaquinones, benzaquinones, and dalbergiones have been repeatedly found in many of these woods and are suspected of being the culprit allergens. Other primary allergens in various woods include lapechols, catechols, courmarins, and other phenolic or flavonoid compounds. Finally, woods such as willow "Salix spp." and birch "Betula spp." that contain salicylates should be avoided by those with an allergy to aspirin.
We discovered that Diospyros celebica (Macassar ebony) contains macassar quinone, suspected of causing reactions, and have thus discontinued it's use. Interestingly, this may be the reason behind ebony in general being sometimes listed as a potential allergen, while our experience with over a decade of use of ebony and subsequent feedback have not produced evidence of ebony being problematic. As far as we know, macassar quinone only occurs in the wood of this one specie of ebony.
The hardwoods that seem to cause the most reactions (including finished products)
include the following...
this is by no means an exhaustive list, it simply represents some of the woods you may run across.
We recommend avoiding these woods for use in piercings,
and feel that it is irresponsible to offer these as viable options for body jewelry.
All within the Dalbergia genera, the "rosewoods." These include, but are not limited to:
Many woods go by common names that may be confusing. For example,
there are many "Pau Ferro" or "Granadillo" woods. In addition, some woods may be very hard to identify:
for example, African blackwood can masquerade as ebony. When in doubt, be sure to ask;
knowing the genus and species (aka scientific name or Latin name) is the key to true identification.