What Is Threaded Jewelry?
At the most basic level, body jewelry comes in two forms: threaded and unthreaded. Unthreaded body jewelry includes captive rings, hinged rings, French hook earrings, stud earrings, pop-fit labret studs, and any other jewelry that doesn't require screwing a decorative end onto a shaft after inserting the shaft in your piercing.
Threaded jewelry typically includes straight barbells, bent barbells, circular barbells... basically all barbells with screw-on ends. The threading is what keeps the ends on the jewelry shaft. The two components--the shaft and the ends/tops--have male and female parts that fit together just like a plug fits into an outlet, a headphone cord fits into a jack, and so on. Sometimes the "male" end of the jewelry--i.e. the threaded post that sticks out--is attached to the body jewelry shaft, and sometimes it's attached to the decorative end.
Internal Vs. External Body Jewelry: What's the Difference?
There are two options when it comes to threaded body jewelry: internal threading and external threading. With internally-threaded jewelry, the shaft is the "female" part of the jewelry, and the "male" (post) part of the jewelry is attached to the decorative end(s). The opposite is true with externally-threaded jewelry. External threading means the "male" post is attached to the jewelry shaft (or, more typically, carved into the shaft), and the decorative ends contain the "female" part--i.e. the hole that the post screws into.
Is One Type of Threading Better Than the Other?
Externally-threaded jewelry typically has the advantage of being less expensive than internally-threaded jewelry--or at least, that used to be the case, back when internally-threaded jewelry was new and the process for making it hadn't been refined yet. When making internally-threaded jewelry, the barbell has to be carefully machined so that a threaded hole is inserted inside the center of the barbell end without compromising the integrity and strength of the barbell, no matter how small its gauge. That wasn't an easy feat when internally-threaded jewelry first came out, so manufacturers charged more for it originally.
Now that the manufacturing process has been fine-tuned, internally-threaded jewelry is typically just as affordable as externally-threaded jewelry. So if price really isn't an issue now, what else makes one style better than the other? In a word, comfort.
When you pass a barbell through a piercing--particularly a tender piercing in a sensitive place, like your nipple or clitoral hood--the last thing you want is the added pain of the barbell's threading scraping your delicate fistula as the jewelry passes through. Internally-threaded jewelry eliminates that issue. The experience is smooth and significantly more comfortable, particularly with new piercings.
When Is the Thread Pattern Unimportant?
Externally-threaded jewelry isn't evil just because it doesn't go through piercings quite as smoothly as internal jewelry. When you're dealing with a mature piercing that has a strong, ultra-reinforced fistula or a piercing in a less sensitive area, like your tongue, then the type of threading is less important. There are a couple other times when it really doesn't matter if your jewelry's internally- or externally-threaded:
- When you're using the kind of taper where the jewelry screws onto the end of it, it really doesn't matter if the jewelry has external threading. You attach your jewelry to the end of the taper, ease the taper through your piercing, and when you finish pulling it out the other side, you unscrew the taper from your jewelry and screw on the bottom ball. The end result is that your jewelry made it into place without the threading ever coming in contact with your fistula as it passed through.
The two images below illustrate the process. In the first one, a straight barbell has been screwed onto a threaded taper, and the taper's been placed through a pierced tongue. In the second photo, the taper has been removed, leaving the jewelry in place. The final step would be to screw on the bottom ball. If the barbell had external threading, it wouldn't have come in contact with the piercing at any point in that process.
- If you're making the switch from internally-threaded to externally-threaded jewelry in the same size, you should be able to do something really cool that prevents the external threading from ever coming in contact with your piercing. Let's say you're making the switch from an externally-threaded nipple barbell to an internally-threaded one. Just unscrew the outer ball of the barbell that's in your piercing, screw the new barbell onto the exposed end of the old one, and push the new barbell through just like you would have with the taper shown above. Once the new barbell's in, unscrew the old one, screw on the new ball, and you're done. Again, the threading never touched your piercing once during the process!
Which Thread Pattern's Best for You?
If you become a convert and switch to using internally-threaded jewelry exclusively after giving it a try, don't feel like you have to throw away all of your old externally-threaded jewelry. We offer converters, like the little piece shown to the right that screws into a 16g externally-threaded end and allows you to start using it with a 14g internally-threaded barbell.
As you expand your jewelry collection in future, keep things simple and buy internally-threaded jewelry only. That way you won't have to worry about tapers or buying perfectly-compatible jewelry in the opposite thread pattern so you can change your jewelry without scraping your fistula. Just buy internally-threaded jewelry, and you'll be able to switch it with total ease and comfort every time.