Belly button rings, often also called navel rings, are jewelry adornments that are fastened to the body's navel by inserting a ring through a piercing in the navel area. This is apparently a very modern kind of piercing, as there is no evidence that the navel or belly button was ever pierced prior to contemporary times.
Contrary to the term, belly button rings do not always come in a circular shape. They may also come in a kind of curved barbell form (barbell). The metals commonly used in making this jewelry include surgical steel, solid 14k gold, silver, niobium, and titanium. Plated metals are seldom used because they have a tendency to break easily and/or cause the wearer allergic reactions and other irritations.
Belly button rings can be classified by thickness and size. For circular rings, the size is determined by diameter. For barbells it is measured by the length. Typical sizes include 5/16 inches (7.9 millimeters), which is generally the shortest; 3/8 inches (9.5 millimeters) or 7/16 inches (1.11 centimeters) which are the standard; and 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) which is the longest.
The thickness of the rings, on the other hand, is measured by gauge. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the ring. A 14 gauge barbell is the type of navel ring most commonly seen today. This is a curved, barbell-shaped ring which most often sits on the skin on top of the navel in a vertical position. Other thicknesses include the 12, 10, and 8 gauges.
Belly button rings are not for everyone. The most important consideration is that there be enough skin over the navel for the ring to hold. Otherwise, the piercing may migrate outward and cause other complications. Even though experienced body piercers may be able to attach rings to "outie" navels safely, it is not always advisable and the desired look may not be achieved.
Newly pierced belly buttons can take a long time to heal because the area is very prone to recurring infections and irritations. It is wise to disinfect and clean a new belly button piercing regularly and to continually assess the piercing for any changes in appearance. Cleaning navel piercings requires applying a cleaning solution to the piercing and rotating the belly button ring to allow the solution to permeate. The area should be rinsed thoroughly once or twice a day. But, it should be noted that overzealous cleaning may result in irritations which can hamper or prolong the healing process.
There is a great variety of belly button rings on the market today and it is understandable for the newly-pierced to want to try out the different styles right away. Be aware, however, that although the initial "captive bead ring" or surgical jewelry may be replaced with more fashionable rings a few weeks after the piercing procedure is done, it may take over a year for the piercing to be completely healed.