Body jewelry can generally be classified as either studs, barbells, or captive bead rings. There are some other types of piercing jewelry, such as tusks, shields, and tunnels, but these are more rare. Piercing jewelry is available in different materials that range from the cheap to the very expensive. The most common metals used in piercing jewelry are surgical stainless steel, sterling silver, niobium, titanium, and 14k gold. Bamboo, horn, plastic, and glass are also used to create piercing jewelry.
Studs are usually small and are often seen in the ears, nostrils, and navel. This type of piercing jewelry usually consists of a straight bar with a small design on the end. Many have a simple round ball, but studs can also be found with colorful stones, spikes, and designs such as butterflies and flowers on their heads. Studs used in belly button piercings often contain a decorative dangle known as a shield that hangs down and covers the navel.
Barbells are most often used in nostril, eyebrow, navel, and tongue piercings. This type of body jewelry can be either straight or curved and has balls at each end to hold it in place. Barbells can be found in different thicknesses that usually range from 0 to 20 gauge, and 0 is the thickest gauge.
Captive bead rings are the most common style of piercing jewelry. These are shaped like an open circle and are held in place by a bead that either screws or snaps onto the end. Captive bead rings can be used anywhere on the body, and are commonly attached to the nose, eyebrows, nipples, and ears. These rings come in different diameters, and the large ones are sometimes used to stretch the ear lobes.
A tusk is a type of body piercing jewelry that resembles the tusk of an elephant. It is popular with people who want to sport a tribal look. The tusk is worn on the nasal septum located at the base of the nose. Many piercing tusks are made of hand-carved horn, but tusks are also available in various metals, plastic, stone, and mother of pearl.
Piercing tunnels and plugs are shaped like cylinders and are usually worn in the ears. Some tunnels are flared at one end, and others are flared on both ends. Like the other types of piercing jewelry, tunnels and plugs are available in a wide selection of colors and materials.