An 18-gauge nose ring can come in many different shapes and styles. The gauge refers to the diameter of the ring itself, but there are many other factors that contribute to what a nose ring looks like. The gauge is important, but so is the type of ring (a stud or a hoop), the placement of the ring in the nose and the material that the ring is made of.
Nose rings, and all piercing rings for that matter, come in different sizes. The gauge is not the size of the ring itself, but rather its diameter. Nose and ear piercings are generally done with an 18-gauge ring when initially pierced, and from there they can be stretched over time to create larger holes, if desired. Eighteen-gauge rings are approximately 0.04 inch in diameter, or 1.024 cm. Gauge sizes range from 20 (the smallest), measuring 0.032 inches, to a full inch. The sizes in between are 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 0, 00, 000, 0000, 9/16", 5/8", 3/4" and 7/8", in ascending size order as the numbers get smaller.
Stud-type nose rings generally look alike from the outside, but it is the end of the metal post inside the nostril, the part that goes unseen, that differs. One type of post comes to an end with a small metal ball at the inside end, slightly larger than the diameter of the post. This is called a nose bone and is preferred by some users because it is more flush against the inside of the nostril and does not stick out as much as the alternatives. However, some piercers warn against this type of ring because pulling it out of the piercing can damage and stretch the hole, as the ball has a larger diameter than the hole itself.
Another type of post maintains the same diameter throughout and is twisted at the inside end to prevent the post from falling out of the piercing. This is called a nose screw and is better for the maintenance of the piercing, but is commonly bothersome. Some users complain of the twisted end of the post sticking out of the nostril slightly, while others complain of nasal fluid building up on the end of the post and blocking the nasal passage of the pierced nostril.
A third nose stud type is called an L-bar and has a slight bend at the inside end, as opposed to a circular twist like the nose screw, but is just as effective and stays in place in much the same way.
A hoop is a more obvious type of nose ring, as the metal winds around the outside of the nostril, as opposed to a stud, which only shows the end of the ring as a small dot on the outside of the nose. A hoop nose ring is slightly flexible and is shaped like a circle with a small gap in it, allowing for one end to be slid into the piercing hole, with a clasp on the other end to prevent the ring from falling out. Another hooplike ring is a U-shaped ring with small balls on either end that prevent the hoop from falling out.
Most nose piercings are placed somewhere along the tip of the nostril, depending on the preference of the person getting pierced. Another type of nose piercing is a septum piercing, meaning that the nose is pierced through the cartilage which separates the nostrils. Hoops and U-rings are commonly used in septum piercings and, with U-rings, the piercing can easily be hidden by flipping the ring up into the nostril. High nostril piercings are another common piercing style. In this case, the piercing is much higher up than a standard nostril piercing and comes close to eye level, sitting on the bridge of the nose.
Nose rings can be made from a multitude of materials. The most common materials include bioplast, blackline, silver, surgical steel, titanium, zircon and gold. Studs often have decorative jewels on the outside end which lay flat against the nostril; the materials in these jewels vary from plastics to diamonds, silver, gold and other precious metals and stones.
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