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Which cartilage earrings are best?

Cartilage is the tough connective tissue that creates the upper portion of your ear and is a common spot for piercings. Cartilage earrings, however, differ from regular earrings. Generally, cartilage earrings are thinner because of the gauge bar. The cartilage earring’s barbell length is also shorter than regular earrings because the area around the upper portion of an ear is smaller. 

If you’re looking for a subtle piercing, the best place to get a cartilage piercing is the helix, located on the upper cartilage that curls in. These piercings are higher and closer to the edge of the ear than an outer conch piercing. The rook is the highest ridge of your inner ear. It connects the bottom of your inner ear to the conch. The tragus is typically the most painful to pierce but is a great option if you’re looking for an edgier feel. 

Cartilage earrings come in different styles: hoop, labret stud or post, captive bead, shields and dangling are to name a few. Hoop earrings are small in diameter compared to other styles and have a tight fit. They are usually composed of stones, diamonds, patterned or plain. Labret studs or posts typically have a flat back and have short bars, similar to regular earrings. They are extremely versatile and suited for any cartilage piercing. 

Additionally, they’re perfect if you’re looking for a casual everyday earring. Dangling cartilage piercings or shields make more of a fashion statement. One of the best features about cartilage earrings overall is that there is a style for any occasion and outfit. Cartilage earrings are also pretty cost-effective, depending on where you purchase them. However, certain features like diamonds can add value. 

If you’re looking for a cheap yet high-quality cartilage earring, these Tiny Hoop Mini-Gold Earrings are the top choice.

What to know before you buy a cartilage earring

Before purchasing a cartilage earring, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Ear piercing placement can determine the size of a cartilage earring. Too small of size leads to discomfort, and too big of a size can lead to them falling out. Cartilage earrings are made in a variety of styles as well. Studs and hoops are great for everyday wear, while colored earrings can be the perfect accessory to any outfit. Dangle cartilage earrings are perfect if you’re looking for an edgier look. While you can purchase cartilage earrings at an ideal price, higher-end options will be more durable.

Ear piercing placement

First and foremost, if you’re thinking of getting a cartilage earring, ear-piercing placement is key. Some cartilage earrings are for specific positionings. When getting a cartilage piercing, remember that cartilage is stronger than earlobes, making it more sensitive to pain. Once the earring is in, it should stay in until healed, taking up to three months. Common cartilage areas to get pierced are the anti-tragus, inner and outer conch, auricle, helix and rook. 


Cartilage earrings come in various styles. Studs are always an excellent option for a casual everyday look and are versatile to suit any cartilage placement. For a night on the town, try a cartilage earring with diamonds or a pop of color. Hoops are another versatile choice for everyday wear. Whatever style you choose, keeping in mind that certain makes may be more fitted for specific piercings. 


You can purchase cartilage earrings at a rational price. However, quality may not be great. If you’re on a budget but looking to purchase a few cartilage earrings, try looking for a bundle pack. It’s a great way to save money and have a broad selection. Material is a large determinant of the cost of cartilage earrings as well. Gold is typically more expensive than silver, and other qualities, like nickel-free and hypoallergenic materials, may also add to the cost. 

What to look for in a quality cartilage earring

There are a few elements to consider when looking for a quality cartilage earring, like material, diamonds, embellishments and earring thickness. Each element nevertheless can determine the cost of a cartilage earring. 


Diamonds are always a great choice to dress up any outfit. When purchasing a cartilage earring that has diamonds, be sure to check the grade. While this may mean it will come at a higher cost, durability will be long-lasting and the overall look won’t appear tacky. These are also tips to keep in mind when purchasing cartilage earrings that have other embellishments like dangle pieces. 


Material is essential when it comes to stuff we wear, especially when it’s on our skin. If you have sensitive skin, make sure to purchase a cartilage earring that is hypoallergenic and nickel-free, like high karat gold, surgical stainless steel or titanium. The material also plays a role in cost. For example, gold and rose gold may be more expensive than silver. However, it can depend on the material’s grade.  

Earring thickness

Earrings come in different thicknesses. Because cartilage is sensitive, knowing what size earring is appropriate for each cartilage piercing area is important. Additionally, earring thickness may be different depending on the style. For example, flatback and barbell cartilage earrings for the helix and tragus require an earring diameter of 5/16 inches. Hoop and horseshoe styles for the conch require an earring thickness of 3/18 to ½ inches. If you’re unsure what earring diameter is right for your cartilage piercing, ask a professional. 

How much you can expect to spend on a cartilage earring

While the average cost of cartilage earrings is between $35-$85, prices tend to vary depending on the earring location type. For example, tragus, rook, snug and forward helix earrings cost between $30-$60. Industrial and orbital earrings are on the more luxurious side, priced between $45-$85. 

Cartilage earring FAQ

How long should you keep a cartilage piercing before changing it?

A. Once pierced, cartilage earrings should not be changed for at least four to six months, giving them enough time to heal. However, they should be cleaned once or twice a day with ear cleaner or saline solution.

Do cartilage piercings get infected easily?

A. Cartilage piercings heal from the outside first and can be prone to infection if not cleaned properly and often. A few days after getting a cartilage piercing, remember that it’s normal to experience mild pain, redness, bruising and swelling. 

What metal should cartilage be pierced with?

A. Titanium and gold are hypoallergenic, making them perfect for piercing. Additionally, gold is antibacterial and a good choice for those with sensitive skin. 

What’s the best cartilage earring to buy?

Top cartilage earring

LuckyJewUS Tiny Hoop Mini Gold Hoop Earrings

LuckyJewUS Tiny Hoop Mini Gold Hoop Earrings

What you need to know: These cartilage earrings are perfect if you’re looking for a variety of simplistic styles.

What you’ll love: Available in yellow gold, sterling silver and 14-karat rose gold, they can be mixed and matched to express your style. Gold-filled and sterling silver options are also hypoallergenic. 

What you should consider: Due to their small width, they can be difficult to find if they fall out. 

Where to buy: Sold by Etsy

Top cartilage earring for the money

COCHARM Solid Gold Cartilage Earring Hoop

COCHARM Solid Gold Cartilage Earring Hoop

What you need to know: On the higher end, this cartilage hoop earring creates an edgy look.

What you’ll love: Made of 14-karat solid gold, it’s nickel-free, lead-free and cadmium-free. There are no sharp edges, making it comfy to wear for any occasion. 

What you should consider: Some reviews state the back won’t stay closed.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

AVORA 14K Yellow Gold 4 stone Simulated Diamond CZ Curved Bar Cartilage Piercing

AVORA 14K Yellow Gold 4 stone Simulated Diamond CZ Curved Bar Cartilage Piercing

What you need to know: This cartilage earring is extremely versatile and adds a stylish touch. 

What you’ll love: Safe for those with sensitive skin, this glistening cartilage earring adds just the right amount of sparkle to any outfit. Featuring a curved bar design and flat back, it’s lined with pink ombre Simulated Diamond Cubic Zirconia accents.

What you should consider: Price is on the luxurious end. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

AnotherEast Butterfly Hoop Earrings

AnotherEast Butterfly Hoop Earrings

What you need to know: Available in gold and silver, the material is lightweight and a great option to add some flair to an outfit. 

What you’ll love: Materials are nickel-free and hypoallergenic, making them perfect for those with sensitive skin. The lever back closure guarantees it will stay snug on the tragus. 

What you should consider: If not taken care of properly, the dangly piece may fall off. 

Where to buy: Sold by Etsy

FUNLMO Opal Cartilage Conch Earring Hoop

FUNLMO Opal Cartilage Conch Earring Hoop

What you need to know: In over 20 different colors, this cartilage conch hoop earring is the perfect accessory for any outfit. 

What you’ll love: At a great price and made of 316L Surgical Steel and Shiny Cube Zircon, the high-polished smooth surface makes it extremely comfortable for everyday wear. Additionally, the hinge makes it easy to open and close, but it will stay snug once closed.

What you should consider: Some reviews state the earring was defective.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Tessa Schaal writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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