Crash Course: Navel Ring Styles, Materials, and SizingBy
Buying a new belly ring? Here’s everything you’ll want to know before delving into the nearly endless selection of beautiful belly jewelry:
Belly Ring Materials
Most belly button rings are going to be crafted in 316L surgical grade stainless steel with steel or acrylic tips. As the name implies, this is an approved surgical grade material and as such will be safe, durable and efficient for the majority of those who have a piercing. For persons who are allergic to nickel however, even surgical grade stainless steel can potentially cause irritation, and that’s where hypoallergenic materials such as .925 sterling silver, white or yellow gold, and titanium come into the picture. Titanium is also a surgical grade material and most belly jewelry that you find will either be surgical steel with a titanium coating (called anodized titanium) or solid grade 5 titanium. For those who prefer to wear gold jewelry, solid 14kt or plated 24kt gold pieces will be more expensive than a standard navel ring but are considered hypoallergenic. Persons who have extremely sensitive skin with multiple allergies or are prone to migration or rejection of their piercings can take advantage of our last common material: bioplast. Bioplast is non-metallic, flexible, hypoallergenic, lead and nickel free, and certified as a biocompatible material, and the shafts of bioplast jewelry can be safely autoclaved for sterilization.
Belly Ring Styles
There are a few basic style of belly piercing jewelry that you’ll want to know about before going shopping. They are: the banana bell, BCR, top drop, spiral, and super spiral.
Banana bells are the most prevalent style of navel ring, the standard curved barbell generally seen with a 5mm top ball and an 8mm bottom ball. These are the belly rings that are most frequently worn and may or may not have a decorative bottom end or a dangling charm. They are easy to insert and comfortable to wear.
BCR or ball captive ring belly rings are generally recommended for those who have been initially pierced with captive jewelry, as the shaping may differ slightly from standard curved barbells. Although not many piercers use BCR belly jewelry, it can still be found in a variety of styles, usually with a decorative gem bead or ball.
Top drop or “top dangle” navel jewelry is similar in shape to a banana bell, but the dangle or decoration is meant to be worn at the top of the piercing rather than the bottom. This type of belly ring will literally be inserted upside down. The ball at the free end will unscrew, and that end of the barbell will then be inserted through the top of the piercing. For those who have the bottom rim of their belly button pierced, top drop jewelry is an essential.
Spiral belly rings are just what they sound like, a barbell with a spiral shape. These can have regular matching ball tips, a single decorative end, or include a dangling charm that hangs freely from the barbell itself instead a ball. Regular spiral belly rings usually contain one full revolution and as such do not protrude a great deal.
Super spirals however, may contain two to four complete revolutions of the spiral, meaning that a portion of the spiral will hang down from the belly button. These generally forgo dangling components for simple decorative balls, and may require practice to insert through a piercing as they must be turned until the spiraled barbell is met with the piercing at its looped half way point.
Belly Ring Sizing
The majority of navel piercings will require jewelry of a 14 gauge and 3/8″ (10mm) length, but some individuals will need a slightly longer length of up to 12mm. Barbell length is measured as the distance between the two ball ends and should not be measured loosely along the curvature of the barbell, but straight across. For those who use BCR belly jewelry, the inside diameter of the hoop rather than a length will be required.
For women who are pregnant, have recently given birth, or require abdominal surgery, extra long and flexible adjustable length belly rings are also available. These will have biocompatible barbells made out of bioplast or PTFE and are able to be sliced at an angle and have their tip wound off and on a few times causing them to self-thread for a custom length.