Cuffs, Studs & Hoops: A Piercing Guide

I love that jewelry can be a last minute add on to complete an outfit, or something that you build an outfit around. Our fingers, necks, and wrists are the most familiar with these adornments, but there is another way that allows the rest of our body to get introduced…


I remember when I was about 10 years old, and I begged my mother to let me get my ears pierced. When she finally agreed, I was so excited to finally have two little pearl studs sitting pretty on my ears. 13 years later, and I’m still just as excited every time I get a new piercing. From personal style to personality, piercings are a way to reflect a little bit of self on the surface of the body. We all have a certain reason why we choose to get a piercing, which in turn makes them become a special part of who we are.

When I was a freshman in college, I made the decision to get my nose pierced. The semester had just started, so I hardly knew anyone at the time. I went with a girl who lived down the hall from me in my dorm who already had hers pierced, and we both thought it would be a fun but unexpected “first friend date”. That experience locked in our friendship, and this girl has been one of my best friends ever since. When I moved up to Philly after my senior year ended, we decided it was probably best to get another friendship piercing. For me, piercings aren’t just holes in the body, but ways to signify a special time in life or a change that occurs.

jana piercings

I know piercings aren’t for everyone – if the ear is as far as you will go, one of our graphic designers worked up this cute little diagram to help show some of the places you can pierce your ear!

ear piercing diagram

I’ve really been digging the stud sets we have online right now, and these are perfect if you have multiple holes in your earlobes!

madisyn ears

I like to combine similar pieces with one another to set a tone or style to the ear. I love mixing this moon stud with the Big Dipper Diamond Earring to create a cosmic look.

studs and crystal

The Palmistry Earring Set is also one of my favorites. Each little shape represents one of the planetary mounts on the palm. I like to mix these in with some of our crystal studs.

hannah picture

The beauty you see above is Hanna, one of the jewelry buyers here at Free People. I’ve always admired her style, and she can pull off just about anything. I caught up with her to find out a little bit more about her piercings and what she does here at Free People!



What’s your favorite part about your job here at Free People?

I love being able to see the full life of the product. Whether it begins with ideas from team brainstorm sessions in trend meetings or through collaboration with market designers, I absolutely love seeing the product make its way through development and eventually (hopefully!) on the pages of our catalogs and into FP stores. Witnessing the successes of our product and having a role in that process is hugely rewarding and thrilling!

Have you always had a love for jewelry?

Oh yes. My mom is an incredible artist, and has been making and selling her own jewelry for over 25 years- we would always have little craft parties when I was growing up where she would show my friends and I how to make our own bracelets! I have always loved fashion, but she showed me how clothing and accessories can be a form of art and creative expression.

You also design some of your own pieces as well…How does having knowledge of the craft help you when it comes time to deciding what products we sell on the site? 

I started designing my own jewelry (with the help of my mama) when I felt like no one else was making what I wanted to wear! Now that I work in accessories buying, I have the opportunity to collaborate with designers and our private label vendors to create styles I believe in, and that I know the FP girl would want to add to her wardrobe!

How old were you when you got your first body piercing? What was it?

I don’t think I was allowed to get my first piercing until I was 12 or 13- it was just one on each ear lobe, and I had to wait another year before I could get the second round. After that I was hooked; when I wanted to get my rook/cartilage pierced in middle school I made a Powerpoint presentation for my parents, explaining why they should let me get it done :). They were not having it, so I started piercing my own ears (and my friend’s ears) when I was 15…eeek sorry mom and dad!

up close shot

What’s your favorite piece from the new collection of body jewelry we have on the site right now?

My favorite has to be the Diamond Septum Spinner by Maria Tash- it’s a stunning piece with a dripping diamond and delicate gold chain; such an unique style that I haven’t seen anywhere else, and it’s a perfect marriage of pretty sparkle and hard/cool. Definitely on my wish list!

Do you have any future piercings in store for yourself?

I’m thinking I might try to maximize my full nasal potential by getting my other nostril pierced! I think it would be really interesting to have that symmetry- and a trifecta of nose jewelry to play with!

If you could give one piece of advice to people who might be weary of body piercings, or scared to get their first one, what would it be?

You can always remove it! I love the idea of getting a tattoo, but can’t seem to commit- for me body piercings are a great, less permanent venue for self expression. And if you’re still wary about the holes, you can still get the look with faux piercings, which is why I’m so excited we have started carrying a rad selection of cuffs!


If you aren’t quite ready to go all the way and get your septum pierced, we sell a few different kind of cuffs that don’t require an actual hole! This is great if you want to test it out before committing, or if you want a removable option. Above, Madisyn is wearing the Tisek Cuff!

Happy Piercing!

Shop All Ears.  

Follow FP Jana on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

14 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

I’ve been wanting to get the second piercing on my lobes for the longest time and my mom said to do it myself but I’m way to scared to do that.. Do you have any suggestions on where would be a good place to get them pierced?


I love the stud sets that Free People carries, but am allergic to the metal! I wish there were more hypoallergenic options.


It’s ashame the earrings that you guys sell suck. i spent $20 on a trio of the studs and they infected my ears within hours! if you guys know so much about piercings, try using stainless steel (or at least something of high quality) on the products you offer!!!!

When I was in high school I had my tongue pierced, my bell button pierced twice, my nose pierced and my eyebrow pierced…and of course my ears. I have to say my ears and my nose were my favorites!! I actually had a hospital stay a few years back and they took all my piercings out for surgery and for some dumb reason I never put anything back in (except for my ears) and now all the holes have closed up..But as painful as it was getting my nose pierced, I really wanna do it again! haha!!

Ana – don’t do it yourself! Any reputable tattoo parlor can pierce them for you.


Ana, listen to Lamenting Lizzie! Piercings should ONLY be performed by a trained professional in a sterile environment. Try searching online for professionals in your area, or go to a local tattooist & ask for information. If you live in Maryland, I recommend Victor Van Orden. He works with Old Line tattoo studio in Hagerstown, MD, & also runs New Ritual body mod studio. He’s done most of my piercings & I’m planning to get 4 or 5 more from him. Even if you don’t live in Maryland, the New Ritual tumblr is full of information & interesting photos to… Read more »


I love this post! ♥ I too can remember every ear piercing, and the reasons behind them; from my first lobe piercings when I was 13 to my industrial 2 years ago. Now, 11 piercings later: 3 in eaxh lobe, both tregus, 1 industrial! And 1 cartledge, where to go next? More than likely a cage in the other ear with the 1 cartledge! Love my piercings! !!!


PS: I wish Free People carried titanium steel earrings, I can’t even wear gold! And as an added bonus if yoi ever need to have a MRI you don’t need to take out all your piercings!


PPS: Just a note most if not all cartledge is done with a 14g. And if you decide you don’t like your cartledge piercings all you have to do is take them out they WILL close up, even after years, not to mention you can’t gauge up with cartledge, only with lobe piercings! I have a wonderful piercer who custom makes all my jewelry in Albuquerque and he believes in a very sterile environment, take that into consideration when you get your piercings.

Hypnotica Vintage

The Re/SEARCH book on body modification, NEW TRIBALISM, is amazing. It was put out in the late 80s and is somewhat dated but is a must-read for any piercing enthusiast.


Hmmm, the daith is labeled as rook and the rook isn’t labeled at all! Cartilage is a blanket term for all of the hard tissue in your ear and includes the tragus, daith, rook, etc. The term is “helix,” and you can also pierce the forward helix zone (which is pictured in the second photo). Finally, the “snug” looks more like a conch piercing. Proper snug piercings are very difficult to do because they pierce the hard frontal ridge along the middle ear and take forever to heal. You can do a faux-snug with a conch-helix pairing though.


Bonnie, if you have metal sensitivity, it is because the jewelry contains nickel or other impurities. Make sure you ask if jewelry contains nickel before you buy it to avoid irritation. Good quality gold that does not contain nickel is very expensive, so I would recommend purchasing titanium jewelry from a reputable source like Anatometal or Industrial Strength. I have metal sensitivity & I order all of my metal jewelry from these two sources. Titanium is not a form of steel, it is an element, which is why, unlike steel, it can be anodized in any color except for red… Read more »


Body modification is very important to me. I have 15 piercings & stretched lobes, so I would love to see Free People selling organic body jewelry like stone plugs or wooden hoops. I would also love to see more temporary tattoos that encourage the use of body art as a form of self expression. Also, as a person with metal sensitivity, I would greatly appreciate seeing what kind of metal the jewelry is made of. That way, customers can be 100% sure there is no nickel in the jewelry. I love the way body modification is represented here. Good job,… Read more »

garment design he product major suit face | for | face}Thousands of | is inexhaustible many | same different | different | industry | post the not are going to understand | know | understand u} ifThis is the those is really | really |learning is infinite | | | endless boundless} positionThe most direct and most effective | idea isthe customer communication todiligent communication | customer communication } hard talk make designers design ideas According to the designers | not B design | assumption | service | fashion design of the object |} what purpose but for | I… Read more »