Caflon vs Studex wholesale

VIntage ear piercing


As an alternative to the spring, powered gun, cartridge based systems were developed. The first was by Coren and tended to be used by doctors rather than jewelry stores. Here’s a promotional sample kit from the 1970s, marketed as “A more civilized way to pierce ears”, The “no tears, no fears” claim is a bit much. The studs were identical to the ones used in piercing guns. It's true a piercing gun inflicts a very had pinch even when not loaded from snapping shut, but most of the pain comes from the actual stud piercing the ear, and the studs in these are identical to the ones used in guns.

Modern packaging. These are somewhat awkward to use, especially if you were trying to pierce yourself. There was also an optional larger plastic handle that resembled salad tongs that slipped over them that made it easier.

Using dedicated piercing instruments that use hand pressure like the Coren piercers but are easier to handle is still the norm. (The makers have increasingly tried to get people to use the term “instrument” instead of gun, and these no longer resemble guns, so I'll switch terminology.

The Original Inverness System / EXXL system

These used hand pressure rather than spring pressure to inject a piercing stud, and used a larger instrument to make it less clumsy to inject the stud. The instruments were less intimidating looking to a customer, and the piercing studs were hidden in plastic (no chance of dirty hands touching and the piercee doesn't see them). I still remember how terrified and freaked out I was at seeing a black piercing gun and the with the stud that was about to be shot into my poor ear.

The basic concept to squeeze the handle against spring pressure. A rod moves out and pushes the earring forward within the cartridge. Eventually the pressure would be great enough so the plastic tabs on the cartridge would break, and momentum would rapidly inject the stud into the ear. (These tended to work better for upper ear cartilage piercings too- there were some disquieting reports of cartilage actually shattering when pierced with a thick, dull stud from a spring-loaded gun.)

The original Inverness system, retroactively called the "EXLL" system, used studs in two piece pink capsules. These came two earrings to a cartridge that had to be manually flipped after the first piercing. This made it impossible to pierce with two guns at once unless you wanted to open two sets of cartridges (which is a bad idea anyway in my opinion since it's impossible for both people to pierce at exactly the same time, and the piercee may jump when the first one hits, leading to incorrect placement on the second).

Here’s a close-up. You can see how it works is there’s the piercing stud is in the white capsule, which is in the larger pink capsule. As you squeeze the instrument a rod pushes at the back of the piercing stud, which in turn moved the white capsule forward until it reaches the ear or until it hits some stops on the pink capsule. As you continue to push against friction, eventually the force suddenly splits the white capsule forward and the momentum rapidly pushes the stud through the ear.

Here’s a promo video for the EXXL system.

The Inverness 2000 system, still being used with the “2000” qualifier being dropped, has one piece yellow and white cartridges, one piercing stud per cartridge, and the back is in the same cartridge as the piercing stud. Likely the start of boys getting their ears pierced was a factor in dropping the pink color. The piercing studs are identical but the cartridge is a lot different.

A video.


Studex for a while had been marketing a self-ear piercer (to be described more fully in the post on home ear piercing) that was in a white cartridge. They then basically developed a large instrument to fit around them, the Studex System 75

Of note, any System 75 piercing studs can be used without the instrument since that's the way the cartridges were designed (unlike Inverness which was designed to be used with their instrument from the start.) I bought a set from eBay where the seller had photocopied instructions from the packages marketed as self-piercers.

A video

Recently Studex has marketed actual hoops with the System 75. Although in theory it might seem nice to wear an hoop during the healing period, to me it seems like it would be a big ouch if one of them got caught in a hairbrush while the piercing is still healing. The first ones had a 3/4 hoop attached to a standard stud, but I've seen it now where some of their 14K gold ones have a true hoop, the other end off the hoop has a hook that can flip around and latch unto the back of the stud.


Caflon eventually developed their own cartridge system similar to the Studex 75, called the "Safetec"

The Sizes of Piercing Studs

Inverness studs were traditionally small and sharp, while Studex, Caflon, and the others were large and dull. Small and sharp might seem to be an advantage to something being shot through your poor ear, but there were tradoffs. Small and sharp studs still hurt a lot, just somewhat less than the others, and the smaller holes meant it was harder to change out from piercing studs to initial jewelry.

Later Studex studs, with the System 75, got small and sharp. My younger daughter had her first two sets of holes done with the black gun and thick studs, as did my son for his set of holes and my older daughter for her first set. The duller thicker studs (18 gauge) generally made us cry, while the sharper, thinner ones we’d just yell “ouch” and maybe have our eyes water a little bit. But when it came time to change out the earrings for the first time it went a lot smoother with the larger holes the older studs made (eventually they’d shrink down over a period of time after the ear had toughened up a bit.)

Here’s a size comparison of piercing studs and needles over the years.