Back in 1989, I gauged a pair of my ear piercings up to 4g. But once I had stretched them, I then had to get jewelry in the final size to wear in them. And that meant finding a body piercer who also made jewelry, who could order 4g niobium stock, make rings and then anodize them the color I wanted. I found a guy who could do the job and it wasn't cheap. Plus those then were the only earrings I had to wear in those holes.
Now just a little over twenty years later, I can go to any mall in the USA and find 4g earrings. But really, what you find at the mall is pretty plain. And that's where online body jewelry stores come in. There are hundreds of them, they have thousands of options and they ship. But how to tell what you are getting and how to know if it's the right thing? Many online stores have a "no return once opened" policy on their products. Here are some tips and tricks for finding a great deal on online body jewelry.
Know Your Sizing
Whether it's length or gauge, it's important to know the size of the body jewelry that you are wearing for when the time comes to get something new. Just a few millimeters difference can mean something won't fit or won't fit comfortably. One easy way to solve this is to ask your piercer to give you the exact gauge (thickness) and length of what you are wearing when you first get pierced. Getting something too thin can cut into tender tissue or allow a piercing to shrink down. Getting something too big can lead to tears when you try and put it in, or something that is too easy to snag.
Barbells are measured from inside one ball end to the other, just the length of the bar itself. Rings are measure by their inside diameter. For gauges, the easiest way to measure is with a gauge wheel, a device made especially for measuring wire thickness. They come in plastic or metal and are incredibly handy if you have a lot of different size piercings.
When ordering online, make sure you find out all the measurements of the piece you want before you hit that "buy" button. If it's not stated, ask. If the person replying to your emails doesn't know, don't buy.
Materials and Quality
There are some great craftspeople out there making body jewelry by hand and if you are after something unique, that's a great way to go. But you have to watch out for variances in size or quality. Some mass produced items are good quality, some are terrible. Make sure to find out what metals are in the jewelry if buying metal: you really want to make sure to get surgical stainless steel. Lesser quality steel can have nickel in it, especially if made in China and that causes problems for a lot of people. If you want to be more eco-conscious, look for artists in your own state or country before you buy from overseas. When it comes to jewelry made from wood, bone or other natural materials, check to see if the artist or manufacturer is following ethical and sustainable practices.
When buying from online sellers, certain practices should be standard. Read the return policy to see if they have one. Buy from sellers or sites that offer buyer protection (like eBay and PayPal offer). If you have a gauge wheel, check the sizing before you open any sealed jewelry. If you find something wrong, contact the seller immediately to see if the situation can be remedied.