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Captive Bead Rings

There are thousands of different body piercing jewelry styles out there, and one of the most popular and versatile is the captive bead ring.

What Is a CBR Piercing?

A captive bead ring piercing, or CBR, is any piercing that can be adorned with captive-bead-ring-style jewelry. The most popular piercing styles include ear lobe and cartilage piercings, lip piercings, eyebrow piercings, nose piercings, nipple piercings, and even belly button piercings.

How Do Captive Bead Rings Work?

Captive bead rings are simple. They consist of two parts: a ring and a bead. The ring has a small segment missing, and the bead is slightly larger than that segment. When the bead is inserted into the empty space, natural tension holds it in place, closing the ring. While you can open and close captive bead rings with only your hands, the process can be simplified using a piercing ball grabber.

Captive bead rings have some advantages over other common styles of piercing jewelry. For one thing, they’re less likely to snag on clothes or bedding. They’re also customizable and easy for the wearer to install or remove on their own. For these reasons, many piercers like to install a captive bead ring for new piercings.

Captive Bead Ring Styles

While “captive bead rings” in the strictest sense consist of a broken ring and bead, there are other styles of jewelry in the CBR family, as well.


Septum pinchers are horseshoe-shaped rings that are usually held in place by putting o-rings on either side of the piercing. They’re most common and popular as septum piercing jewelry, but they can be used as nipple or ear jewelry as well.

Screw-on ball rings

Screw-on ball rings are a hybrid of captive bead rings and circular barbells. Instead of the bead being held in place by tension, it screws into one side of the ring and does not make contact with the other. Screw-on ball rings are great for ear, nose, and nipple piercings.

Seamless rings

Seamless rings are the simplest of all captive bead ring variants. They consist of a broken loop or other shape that is installed into a piercing and closed simply by gently applying pressure to the jewelry itself with your hands or a tool – no additional hardware is required.

Segment rings

Segment rings are another simple alternative to captive bead rings. Instead of a ball filling the gap in these rings, they have a segment that hinges or that can be removed from the ring entirely. Once your jewelry\'s in place, simply snap the removable or hinged segment back into place for a continuous-ring look.

Fixed Bead Ring vs. Captive Bead Ring

Another variant is the fixed bead ring. In a captive bead ring, the bead can be completely removed from the ring, and the tension between the two sides of the ring holds the bead “captive” to complete the ring. In a fixed bead, the ring is attached to one side of the ring. The ring is opened by twisting the non-beaded side to the front or back, away from the bead.

How to Remove a Captive Bead Ring

Some prefer to visit their piercer to have CBRs removed, especially if it’s the first time the jewelry is being removed after healing. However, with a little practice and patience, removing a captive bead ring can be done at home. You’ll want to grasp the ball with the thumb and index finger of one hand and one side of the ring with the other. Then, gently twist the ring forward or backward until it pops out of the indentation in the bead. (This movement is preferred to pulling the ring straight to the side unless you’re using ring opening pliers.) Be sure to have a firm grasp on the bead, and try to work over a tray or something that can catch the bead if it falls.

You might find the process easier with a few tools like bead grabbers and ring expansion pliers. These tools are especially helpful if you have large fingers or if you have jewelry that’s 12 gauge or larger.

How to Change a Captive Bead Ring

First, it’s critical to make sure the piercing is fully healed before attempting to change a captive bead ring. If you try too early, the tissues may still be swollen, making it difficult to guide the new jewelry through the piercing. Again, some prefer to visit their piercer to change out their CBR jewelry, but if you’d rather handle it at home, you can do so with some practice and the help of a few tools.

Once you’ve successfully removed your original captive bead ring, you can now change it out for other CBR jewelry. Carefully guide the new ring through the piercing, being careful not to force it – this may take a few tries the first time.Once your ring is in place, use your fingers or bead grabbers to place the ball between the two sides of the ring, aligning the divots on the ball with the ends of the ring until the ball has firmly “clicked” into place. You may find it helpful to first place the ball on one side of the ring and then gently twist the other side of the ring into the other divot. If you used ring opening pliers on the jewelry, you’ll need to use ring closing pliers to close it tightly enough to hold the bead in place. For more tips, see our Guide to Changing Captive Bead Rings.

Popular Piercings for CBR Jewelry

We carry CBR jewelry for all of the most popular CBR piercings including, captive bead earrings, captive bead nose rings, captive septum rings, and more in a variety of gauges. Browse the PainfulPleasures store for our full selection of captive bead rings and other similar styles of body jewelry.