Body Jewelry Consumer Survey 2019

July 21, 2019 0 Comments

Early this year, I set out to give independent makers and small businesses in the body jewelry industry a way to make smarter business decisions with analytics. We can look at our past sales and infer trends like our most popular sizes and styles, but I wanted to provide a broader look at the current size and buying patterns industry wide. After 16 years of business, I have enough sales records to see a general picture of my customers, but my data set is still limited. The goal of this survey is to create connections between size, style, and cost that allow us to make smart decisions based on what consumers are actively looking to purchase.

I was able to obtain 833 responses (as of 7/21/19) to a variety of questions that cover size, style, and buying habits for stretched ear lobe, cartilage, and lip piercing jewelry. Results are presented in tabular data as well as charts. For some questions with a wide range of answers, I've charted both the totals and the top range for more focus.

The link to the survey was shared on Instagram, Facebook, and Reddit on several dates, sometimes using charts of early results to start a dialogue and encourage responses. In the future I will also consider leveraging the reach of my email list and put more focus on other makers sharing future surveys among their own customer base.

Stretched Lobes: What's your size?

745 responses. There were no surprises here based on my historical data, but it's fascinating to see how the sizes relate to one another. It's my hope that these results help answer consumer questions about why small makers don't make stock in many "between" sizes, and many less popular larger sizes. The top 10 answers total 479 or 64% of the total respondents.

 

Stretched Lobes: What's your size? Count
16mm (5/8") 72
13mm (1/2") 61
25mm (1" is 25.4mm, many prefer to round up to 26mm) 58
19mm (3/4") 53
8mm (0ga) 49
9mm (00ga) 42
14mm (9/16") 41
22mm (7/8") 38
26mm 34
10mm 31
38mm (1 1/2") 29
51mm (2") 29
6.5mm (2ga) 28
32mm (1 1/4") 23
11mm (7/16") 16
3mm (8ga) 16
5mm (4ga) 15
20mm (13/16") 13
12mm 12
4mm (6ga) 10
30mm (1 3/16") 9
35mm (1 3/8") 8
29mm (1 1/8") 7
18mm 6
28mm 6
6mm 6
41mm (1 5/8") 5
7mm (1ga) 5
17mm (11/16") 3
34mm 3
40mm (1 9/16") 3
21mm 2
24mm (15/16") 2
42mm 2
44mm (1 3/4") 2
15mm 1
27mm (1 1/16") 1
36mm 1
37mm (1 7/16") 1
47mm 1
50mm 1

 

What jewelry shape do you prefer for lobes?

826 responses. I knew that round was going to be the majority, but I was surprised at how dramatic the numbers were versus teardrops. I get asked to make a lot of teardrops and I know some other makers do as well, but it's obvious that the overwhelming majority of plugs sold in the industry are rounds. I've made several sets of ovals over the last few years, so it was also interesting to see that number quantified.

What jewelry shape do you prefer for lobes? Count
Round 625
Teardrop 170
Oval 9

 

Flare Style for Lobes

825 responses. I knew double flared would be the overwhelming majority, but I was surprised at how high the single flare number is. It's worth further digging to see if these are people actively stretching with single flares or if they are wearing single flares at final sizes. It would also be interesting to cross reference single flares with the sizes list in a future survey.

What flare style do you prefer for lobes? Count
Double flared (most common for lobes) 653
Single Flared (most common for cartilage) 143
Non-Flared (uncommon) 9

 

Ear Weights: How heavy do you like it?

761 responses. I was happy to see a majority answer this question, because I enjoy making ear weights. From a maker's perspective, it is less stressful and more profitable to spend time making a piece that fits a wide variety of sizes. Weights also offer profoundly more design freedom, which of course I love.

These numbers are in line with my past experiences talking to my customers about weight, but I was surprised to see the "Bring on the heavy" option rank as high as it did. I love heavy weights and I know a handful of other people that will regularly wear 100+ gram pieces, but from these numbers it appears that there are a good number of people willing to wear whatever they find beautiful, even if just for special events or temporary wear.

Ear Weights: How heavy do you like it? Count
Up to 40 grams 258
Up to 20 grams 187
Up to 60 grams 159
BRING ON THE HEAVY 100
Up to 80 grams 37

 

What's your budget for rad lobe jewelry at this size? 

814 responses. It's no surprise that the majority of people are interested in inexpensive body jewelry. Budget is a touchy subject, and many believe that higher priced products are unfair or elitist. The abundance of companies mass manufacturing inexpensive body jewelry in a wide variety of materials creates the illusion that jewelry should fall within a certain price range, but that is an effect of capitalism and not the reality of production for quality and innovation focused small maker businesses.

It is uplifting to see that although the highest number is for the lowest price, there is a market for higher priced goods. In particular, makers should pay attention to the 15% of respondents who answered "For the right piece, it doesn't matter." That segment of the market is composed of people who want to see and are willing to pay for unique materials and innovative design. They are a literal driver of progress in the body jewelry industry, and both makers and other consumers should make note of this because it is a key indicator of the health of our market.

What's your budget for rad lobe jewelry at this size? Count
$50-100 330
$100-$150 169
For the right piece, it doesn't matter. 128
$150-$200 119
$200-$300 52
$300-$400 16

 

 Stretched Cartilage: What's your size?

344 responses. About 41% of respondents have cartilage work, which is higher than I anticipated. Some of these responses are for septum which skews the number because I did not separate them. Cartilage jewelry is one of the most variable in terms of custom specifications, so while the answers for the next few questions offer only a partial glimpse at the market, it's great to finally have some data. I was surprised at how high the #1 (8ga/3mm) size ranked above the rest of the top choices.

 

Stretched Cartilage: What's your size? Count
3mm (8ga) 77
8mm (0ga) 55
6.5mm (2ga) 44
4mm (6ga) 42
5mm (4ga) 32
9mm (00ga) 16
6mm 15
10mm 12
11mm (7/16") 12
13mm (1/2") 11
16mm (5/8") 6
7mm (1ga) 6
19mm (3/4") 5
12mm 3
14mm (9/16") 2
20mm (13/16") 1
23mm 1
26mm (common for 1" as a widely available whole mm size) 1
29mm (1 1/8") 1
36mm 1
51mm (2") 1

  

What flare style do you prefer for cartilage?

390 responses. I'm not sure why this got more responses than the previous question, but it is what it is! These results were spot on with my experience as a maker.

What flare style do you prefer for cartilage? Count
Single Flared (most common for conch, flats, nostrils) 336
Double flared (flares are usually smaller than standard for cartilage) 38
Non-Flared (uncommon) 16

 

Stretched Lip: What's your size? 

127 responses. Larger stretched labrets are still quite rare, even as a cross section of the piercing industry. This is another question where I was very surprised at the gap between #1 (8ga/3mm) and the next sizes. It's also interesting that it's the same size as the cartilage question. Labrets are another highly variable jewelry style in terms of specifications - different wear length, wing width, etc. can mean the difference between having a successful larger oral piercing or gum recession and tooth damage. Stretched oral piercings represent the highest risk category of common piercings and I'm sure that contributes to their lower adoption rate.

Stretched Lip: What's your size? Count
3mm (8ga) 36
8mm (0ga) 13
13mm (1/2") 12
6.5mm (2ga) 11
4mm (6ga) 8
5mm (4ga) 7
9mm (00ga) 7
16mm (5/8") 6
10mm 5
14mm (9/16") 4
11mm (7/16") 3
19mm (3/4") 3
20mm (13/16") 3
22mm (7/8") 3
25mm (1" is 25.4mm, many prefer to round up to 26mm) 2
6mm 2
26mm 1
32mm (1 1/4") 1

 

What jewelry shape do you prefer for lip?

172 responses. This is another case where the total for a secondary question is higher than the size for that piercing. This may be the result of people without labrets choosing which aesthetic they prefer. I'll have to be more specific in the future. This question's results are interesting because judging from the inquiries I receive, it would seem that ovals are dramatically more popular than rounds. I think what's happening is that because ovals are harder to make and size properly, the majority of stock available from mass producers is round, while the people looking for ovals are inquiring for made-to-order pieces (or requesting more stock) with smaller makers.

What jewelry shape do you prefer for lip? Count
Round 83
Oval 74
Teardrop (generally only used for upper lip) 15

 

What's your budget for rad lip jewelry at this size?

139 responses. This represents a much smaller segment than the budget questions for other piercings. While people are still looking for a good deal, we see a much larger percentage of people willing to pay what's needed to ensure they are getting a piece of jewelry that fits properly. It's also worth noting that most of the labrets I make fit into the #1 ranked price range. I assume other makers will see their prices for labrets in the #1 and #2 spots as well. This ended up being the budget question where the consumer and makers have the largest consensus on cost, which makes sense considering the previously mentioned need for tight specs and proper fit.

What's your budget for rad lip jewelry at this size? Count
$100-$150 42
$50-100 42
For the right piece, it doesn't matter. 33
$150-$200 16
$200-$300 4
$300-$400 2


About how often do you look around for new body jewelry?

830 responses. I was not surprised by #1 being "Once every few months," but I was very surprised to see "Weekly" rank so high. Our industry has many more enthusiasts and collectors than in the past. It seems that people are spending more time looking at and reading about body jewelry, shops, and piercers as an interest or hobby, which is great!

About how often do you look around for new body jewelry? Count
Once every few months 239
Weekly 221
Monthly 180
Daily 88
Once every six months or more 57
Once a year or more 45

 

Where do you keep an eye out for new items?

817 responses. These results were pretty in line with my experiences as a maker. I was surprised the extent to which Instagram outranked Facebook. This question included an "Other" entry option that resulted in a large number of self-entered responses with small numbers or that were duplicates. As a result, I've shaved off everything with less than five responses.

Something to keep in mind is that while social media is an incredible marketing tool for makers and resource for consumers, we have no control over those algorithms. A maker's own website and in particular their newsletter list, are the two biggest opportunities for dedicated marketing. Makers should be leveraging that and using social media as a way to drive traffic and sign-ups to the only business resources they really own and control online. Consumers, if you really enjoy someone's products, join that list so they can speak directly to you.

 

Using this data

I intended this survey and the resulting data to serve as an industry resource. I welcome the use of the text and charts in this post, and I encourage you to share your own impressions here or in your own posts. However, I ask that you credit me (Jared Karnes @ Onetribe) for the collection and presentation of this data, and you must link back to these full results (https://onetribe.net/blogs/content/body-jewelry-consumer-survey-2019).

I am happy to collaborate on blog posts or share raw data if you have ideas for articles or other ways to share this information and create dialogue around body jewelry, independent makers, and customers.




Also in Content

Holiday 2018 Shipping and Closure Info

December 11, 2018 0 Comments

I am currently working hard to get all pending orders for standard made-to-order (non-custom) jewelry that have come in through the website finished and shipped in the days leading up to my holiday closure on Friday 12/21.

After 12/17 I can guarantee shipment of orders for in stock and ready to ship jewelry until the afternoon of 12/21 when the last mail shipment goes out.

I strongly suggest Priority or Express mail service to ensure any orders that are gifts or otherwise needed for Christmas to be delivered on time. I guarantee that we'll get it in the mail, but I can't control the shipping time.

My workshop will be closed from 12/22 to Tuesday 1/1 so I can rest my hands and spend time with my family. I may be in the workshop cleaning or prototyping but nothing will ship during this time. Correspondence will happen periodically, just be patient.

I'll be back in the workshop making jewelry and getting on with business as usual the week of 1/1/19. Thanks to you this business is now 16 years old. I appreciate your support. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Jared Karnes, Owner/Jeweler

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Submit your wear photos for $$!

December 07, 2018 0 Comments

Over the years I have made some fantastic ear weights, one at a time for one customer at a time, and promptly sent them off to homes without the ability to show them in their natural environment - being worn by truly unique people!

Some of the pieces I make have unusual insertion methods (Ghost in the Shell) or wearing surfaces that can be difficult to describe (iona) but are easy to show in a photo. I want to gather some beautiful photos of my customers showing off how you incorporate my work into your one of a kind style. As thanks, I would like to offer you $30 in credit toward your next order and a chance to win $100 in credit toward your next set of handmade ear weights.

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Alchemy with Stone: Doublets and Triplets

August 26, 2018 0 Comments

I've been experimenting with a new process that allows me to create unique, one of a kind gemstones with a modern aesthetic that embraces the distinctive color and light play characteristics of each stone. These gems are combinations of multiple stones laminated together and are named for the number of layers of stone in the completed piece. Two layers is a doublet, and three is called a triplet.

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Sizing Chart
Size chart includes the sizes we make, and default flare size & wearing lengths.
We are happy to make pieces in odd sizes or with custom flares or wearing lengths.
Jewelry Size Flare Size Wearing Length
1.0mm (18g) 1-1.5mm 9mm
1.3mm (16g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
1.5mm (14g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
2.0mm (12g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
2.5mm (10g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
3.0mm (8g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
4.0mm (6g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
5.0mm (4g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
6.0mm
1-1.5mm
9mm
6.5mm (2g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
7.0mm (1g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
8.0mm (0g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
9.0mm (00g)
1-1.5mm
9mm
10mm
1-1.5mm
10mm
11mm (7/16")
1-1.5mm
10mm
12mm
1-1.5mm
10mm
13mm (1/2")
1-1.5mm
10mm
14mm (9/16")
1-1.5mm
10mm
15mm
1-1.5mm
10mm
16mm (5/8")
1-1.5mm
10mm
17mm (11/16")
1-1.5mm
10mm
18mm
1-1.5mm
10mm
19mm (3/4")
1-1.5mm
11mm
20mm (13/16")
1-1.5mm
11mm
21mm
1-1.5mm
11mm
22mm (7/8")
1-1.5mm
11mm
23mm
1-1.5mm
11mm
24mm (15/16")
1-1.5mm
11mm
25mm
1-1.5mm
11mm
26mm (1")
1-1.5mm
11mm
27mm (1 1/16")
1-1.5mm
12mm
28mm
1-1.5mm
12mm
29mm (1 1/8")
1-1.5mm
12mm
30mm (1 3/16")
1-1.5mm
12mm
31mm
1-1.5mm
12mm
32mm (1 1/4")
1-1.5mm
12mm
33mm (1 5/16")
1-1.5mm
12mm
34mm
1-1.5mm
12mm
35mm (1 3/8") 
1-1.5mm
12mm
36mm
1-1.5mm
12mm
37mm (1 7/16")
1-1.5mm
12mm
38mm (1 1/2") 1.5-2mm 13mm
39mm
1.5-2mm
13mm
40mm (1 9/16")
1.5-2mm
13mm
41mm (1 5/8")
1.5-2mm
13mm
42mm
1.5-2mm
13mm
43mm (1 11/16")
1.5-2mm
13mm
44mm (1 3/4")
1.5-2mm
13mm
45mm
1.5-2mm
13mm
46mm (1 13/16")
1.5-2mm
13mm
47mm
1.5-2mm
13mm
48mm (1 7/8")
1.5-2mm
13mm
49mm (1 15/16")
1.5-2mm
13mm
50mm
1.5-2mm
13mm
51mm (2")
1.5-2mm
13mm

Wearing length is the area of the jewelry that fits inside your piercing. 

Overall length (sometimes confused with wearing length) is the total measurement of the jewelry from face to face, including any additional flare or face area.

Diagram of jewelry styles with wearing length marked in green and overall length marked in red.

1. Flat face double flared plug. Wearing length is measured from the inside of the flare edges. Overall length is measured from face to face.

2. Convex face double flared plug. Wearing length is measured from the inside of the flare edges. Overal length is measured from face to face.

3. Flat face double flared plug with flat flares. Wearing length is measured from inside the flare edges (the piercing cannot rest on the flat flare areas). Overall length is measured face to face.

4. Trumpet flare style plug. The dotted line denotes where the wearing surface ends on the front, because the larger portion of the slope cannot fit inside the piercing. Wearing surface is measured from inside the rear flare edge to the area on the front flare with the same diameter measurement. Overall length is measured from face to face.

5. Sloped single flare plug. Wearing length is measured from where the slope of the flare ends to the end of the plug. Overall length is measured from face to face.

6. Top-hat style single flare with convex face. Wearing length is measured from the inside flare corner to the end of the plug. Overall length is measured from face to face.

7. Top-hat style single flare with curved rear. Wearing length is measured from the inside flare corner to the beginning of the curve (the piercing cannot rest on the slope). Overall length is measured from face to face.

8. Top-hat style single flare with groove for an o-ring. Wearing length is measured from the inside flare corner to the groove (the piercing cannot rest on the groove). Overall length is measured from face to face.

9. Labret (round or oval) with a standard concave t-back. Wearing length is measured from where the wearing shaft meets the wing to the end of the flat portion (the piercing cannot rest on the slope).

Overall length is always longer than the wearing surface because it includes other sections of the jewelry that do not rest inside the piercing. If you are ordering a piece of jewerly and you specify an overall length instead of a wearing length, your jewelry will not fit properly. Order using "overall length" at your own risk. Knowing your ideal wearing length, which can change as you stretch your piercings, ensures you're able to order jewelry that will fit well from every vendor, every time.