Quick Take: Body Jewelry Replacement Balls 101

replacement balls for piercing jewelry

Shopping for body jewelry can be a very confusing experience, especially if you’re new to the world of piercing. There are many different items that may look similar but have very different uses, and ordering the wrong kind of replacement ball is one of the most common mistakes made when purchasing body jewelry online. You will notice the terms “captive bead,” “internally threaded,” or “externally threaded,” and may wonder what they all mean. It’s important to know the difference so you can get the right fit for your jewelry. Here’s some important information about the variety of replacement balls and jewelry styles:

Threads exist on body jewelry that has an end ball that can screw on and off. A thread is a spiral ridge that winds around the metal to hold the ball in place. The ball is screwed to the left to loosen it and to the right to tighten and secure it. There is an end that looks like a screw and fits into a hole with complimentary threading. Threaded jewelry includes curved barbells for belly rings or eyebrow rings, flat back labrets and monroes, microdermals, and straight or circular barbells.

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Internally Threaded Balls- Internally threaded body jewelry has a hole or hollow inside of the barbell’s shaft portion, and the ball or decorative end has a threaded piece protruding from it. The smooth barbell is inserted through the piercing and the ball is then inserted and screwed into place. Internally threaded jewelry is preferred for initial piercing jewelry. The shaft is smooth and will pass through the fresh piercing hole with ease. Using internally threaded jewelry on brand new piercings avoids the chance of scraping your tender tissue with possibly sharp threads and aids in the healing process.

internally threaded body jewelry barbells

Externally Threaded Balls- Externally threaded body jewelry has a thread protruding from the end of the barbell’s shaft that is placed into a threaded hole in the ball. When the jewelry is being passed through the piercing, the threads also pass through it. The ball is then placed onto the shaft’s end and screwed on. This jewelry is best used on well healed piercings.

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externally threaded body jewelry barbells

Captive Beads/ Balls– Captive beads are made specifically for BCRs (Ball Captive Rings). The bead or ball fits into an opening in the ring. Captive rings are basic circle hoops with a ball or charm that is held in place by the pressure of each free end pushing on it. There are no threads on this bead or the jewelry it is made for. The captive bead is held in place because it is slightly larger than the opening and has small dimples (or indentations) on either side that correspond with the ring’s open ends. The captive bead fits snug against the ends of the ring.

dimpled BCR replacement balls

Sometimes you must use ring opening/closing pliers to change your captive bead rings, particularly for larger gauge items. Captive rings are versatile and used in many popular body piercings including those in the ears, nose, septum, eyebrows, belly buttons, lips, nipples, some oral piercings, and much more. If you have any questions about how to properly change your BCR, please check out this instructional video:

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A good tip to follow when changing any of the balls/decorations on your body jewelry is to make sure you put a towel over the sink in case you drop any pieces (we’ve all lost balls that way, and have learned from our mistakes). Also, make sure your hands are always clean when changing or handling jewelry that is for your piercings. The health of your body and of your piercings are important.