This article is from the Piercing FAQ, by Anne Greenblatt with numerous contributions by others.
After a piercing is healed jewelry may be changed as desired. The new
jewelry must be of the same gauge as the original jewelry. If the
jewelry is smaller, the piercing will shrink and the piercing must be
stretched to wear the original jewelry. If the jewelry is larger, the
piercing must be stretched. With some piercings the jewelry must be of
a certain design to be comfortable.
Lubricating the piercing and the new piece of jewelry using a
water-based lubricant makes changing jewelry easier. Place a small
amount of lubricant onto the existing jewelry and rotate the jewelry
to lubricate the piercing. Rings should be opened before lubricating
If the jewelry must be changed before the piercing has healed, the
change must be continuous to prevent the piercing from shrinking or
closing. Contact between the two pieces of jewelry must be securely
maintained. In some cases an insertion taper should be used to
facilitate a smooth procedure. For example, when changing rings the
convex ring ends cannot be held together easily or securely. The
concave, gauged end of the taper should be abutted against the end of
the existing ring and pushed into the piercing and the new ring
inserted in the opposite direction.
Externally threaded jewelry must be heavily lubricated to reduce the
risk of damaging the piercing during insertion. The threads can get
caught on the interior of the piercing, making insertion difficult and
Threaded jewelry is most securely tightened using a tissue or gauze to
grip the balls. Never use pliers to tighten balls. In the case of
internally threaded jewelry, using pliers can strip the threads from
Please refer to Part 2B of the Piercing FAQ for information about
different jewelry designs.