barbell (piercing)



Barbell style piercing jewelry is composed of a straight bar with a bead on each end, one or both beads unscrewable for removal and/or changing of the beads. Often one of the beads is fixed, either via
epoxy Epoxy is the family of basic components or cured end products of epoxy resins. Epoxy resins, also known as polyepoxides, are a class of reactive prepolymers and polymers which contain epoxide groups. The epoxide functional group is also col ...
or welding, so that only one bead is used to install or remove the
jewelry Jewellery ( UK) or jewelry ( U.S.) consists of decorative items worn for personal adornment, such as brooches, rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets, and cufflinks. Jewellery may be attached to the body or the clothes. From a western p ...
. Barbell threads are usually right-handed. They are named because they resemble the barbells that are used in
weightlifting Weightlifting generally refers to activities in which people lift weights, often in the form of dumbbells or barbells. People lift various kinds of weights for a variety of different reasons. These may include various types of competition; prom ...

Types of barbells

Internally threaded barbells

Named because the bar has smooth ends with receiving threads tapped into the end of the bar. In internally threaded jewelry, the bead has a receiving tube machined into it (this is referred to as "countersunk"), with a threaded post extending from the center, which mates with the threaded receiving tube on the bar. Being much less likely to cause damage and irritation, especially at the time of piercing, internally threaded jewelry is considered superior to externally threaded jewelry. It is usually slightly more expensive than externally threaded jewelry, due to the extra machining and labor involved.

Externally threaded barbells

So named because the shaft of the bar has threads at both ends to allow beads with receiving threads to be attached. Due to the potential damage or irritation to the piercing as the threads are passed through when the jewelry is inserted or removed as well as the popularity of the internally threaded barbell, the externally threaded option has become less common. This type of barbell is usually only used in cheap, mass-produced body jewelry. Some manufacturers make externally threaded barbells with "step-down threading", where the threaded section has a smaller diameter than the wearable section; these are fairly uncommon and usually internally threaded barbells are used in their place. Step-down threaded jewelry ends can be inserted into the blunt end of a hollow piercing needle, allowing for less irritation during initial placement than regular external barbells.

Curved barbells

Also known as a ''navel curve'' or ''curve'', so named because of their
curvature In mathematics, curvature is any of several strongly related concepts in geometry. Intuitively, the curvature is the amount by which a curve deviates from being a straight line, or a surface deviates from being a plane. For curves, the canoni ...
. A curved barbell is mechanically identical to a straight barbell, except for being curved. Curvature on a curved barbell can range from almost straight to
circular Circular may refer to: * The shape of a circle * ''Circular'' (album), a 2006 album by Spanish singer Vega * Circular letter (disambiguation) ** Flyer (pamphlet), a form of advertisement * Circular reasoning, a type of logical fallacy * Circular ...
, with some barbells actually being
spiral In mathematics, a spiral is a curve which emanates from a point, moving farther away as it revolves around the point. Helices Two major definitions of "spiral" in the American Heritage Dictionary are:navel piercings to position the decorative end of the jewelry more appropriately. They can be either internally threaded or externally threaded.

Circular barbells

Also known as
horseshoe A horseshoe is a fabricated product designed to protect a horse hoof from wear. Shoes are attached on the palmar surface (ground side) of the hooves, usually nailed through the insensitive hoof wall that is anatomically akin to the human t ...
barbells due to their shape, they are used in any number of piercings, including earlobes, tragus piercings, nasal septum piercings, or even horizontal clitoral hood piercings, although the latter is less common, as the clitoris is deprived of the stimulation gained from a properly positioned
captive bead ring A captive bead ring (CBR), ball closure ring (BCR), captive hoop, or captive ball ring is a common example of body piercing jewelry. The captive bead or ball fits into a small opening in the circle of the ring. The bead is slightly larger than ...

Surface bars

Used in surface piercings. A surface bar is a barbell where the bar has a pair of 90 degree bends, in the same direction (similar to a staple), to allow the jewelry to be used for surface piercings. This design minimizes the pressure that would be caused by other jewelry designs that contribute to
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in healing surface piercings. Surface bars are produced with many different lengths between the two points.

Types of beads

Beads for barbells can vary widely in design and appearance, although the vast majority of beads are simply spherical in design. That being said, any shape that threads can be tapped into can be used as a bead.
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s, triangles,
cylinder A cylinder (from ) has traditionally been a three-dimensional solid, one of the most basic of curvilinear geometric shapes. In elementary geometry, it is considered a prism with a circle as its base. A cylinder may also be defined as an infin ...
cone A cone is a three-dimensional geometric shape that tapers smoothly from a flat base (frequently, though not necessarily, circular) to a point called the apex or vertex. A cone is formed by a set of line segments, half-lines, or lines co ...
s, disks, and other basic shapes are common alternative bead designs. Some large gauge barbells, especially those used in tongue piercings, use "smartie beads", flattened circular beads, to prevent the jewelry from damaging the gums and teeth and allowing free movement of the tongue. There also exist "bondage" beads, which are dimpled to accept a
captive bead ring A captive bead ring (CBR), ball closure ring (BCR), captive hoop, or captive ball ring is a common example of body piercing jewelry. The captive bead or ball fits into a small opening in the circle of the ring. The bead is slightly larger than ...
, or the "koosh" bead which is a bead made of a rubbery material textured like a French tickler
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threaded to fit the tip of a barbell. Miniature vibrators also exist, in a variety of hard or soft materials on the exterior of the bead.


Barbell style jewelry can and is made from any metal appropriate for making body jewellery. Flexible barbells made from Teflon or tygon tubing are often used in experimental surface or deep tissue piercings. Beads do not penetrate the body, so often materials not usually considered safe for piercing can be used in a decorative manner such as acrylic, glass, or organic materials.

History and culture

Although at first glance the manufacture of threaded jewelry might appear to be of contemporary origin, there are examples of externally threaded, straight barbells being used by
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people, most notably the Dayak of
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. In contemporary society, barbell-style jewelry was popularized by Jim Ward, founder of Gauntlet (the first
body piercing Body piercing, which is a form of body modification, is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewelry may be worn, or where an implant could be inserted. The word ''piercing'' can refer to ...
studio in the United States), in the 1970s. He was introduced to barbell-style jewelry by Horst Streckenbach "Tattoo Samy" (1926–2001), a tattooist and piercer from
Frankfurt Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian: , " Frank ford on the Main"), is the most populous city in the German state of Hesse. Its 791,000 inhabitants as of 2022 make it the fifth-most populous city in Germany. Located on its n ...
, Germany, and his student Manfred "Piker" Kohrs from Hanover, Germany. "The first barbells I recall came from Germany. Doug had made contact with Tattoo Samy, a tattooist and piercer from Frankfurt. Over the years Samy came to the States a number of times and frequently showed up in LA to visit Doug. On one of his first visits he showed us the barbell studs that he used in some piercings. They were internally threaded, a feature that made so much sense that I immediately set out to recreate them for my own customers." Jim Ward and his magazine '' PFIQ'' have been crucial in the development of modern body piercing. They are worn in the cartilage of the ear but they are also worn on the lobe. The lobe is very popular because it can be performed in some countries without parental consent and it is more painless and easy to DIY.


{{DEFAULTSORT:Barbell (Piercing) Body piercing jewellery