Nose rings are pieces of jewelry that are worn through a hole pierced in the nose. Although they seem new and radical to many Americans, these rings actually date back to ancient cultures and are traditional in many societies. There are three general types of nose piercings: nostril piercings on the outside of the nose, septum piercings through the cartilage separating the nostrils, and bridge piercings across the top of the nose.
Many kinds of jewelry can be worn through nasal piercings, including rings, studs, and barbells. Nose rings, like earrings and other body piercings, are usually made of metals such as gold, surgical steel or titanium. Some jewelry is also made of polished bone.
Nose rings originated in the Middle East and became popular in India in the 16th century. The Bible mentions them in Genesis 24:22, after Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for his son and the servant chooses Rebekah: "When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold ring weighing half a shekel, which he fastened on her nose, and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels, which he put on her wrists." These rings are traditionally worn by women in Indian cultures, where one worn in the left nostril is believed to make childbirth easier.
This jewelry gained popularity in America and other industrialized Western nations around the end of the 20th century, especially in punk and youth culture. There is somewhat of a stigma against them, and many dress codes for schools and businesses in the United States do not allow them to be worn. They are gradually becoming more acceptable, however, mostly in urban areas.
Nose rings come in many shapes and sizes, from tiny jewel studs to thick barbells and plugs that require punching a hole through the nostril or septum. For the less adventurous, there are also rings that do not require a piercing. Those that are clipped onto the side of the nostril can look very realistic, and to simulate a stud piercing, a person can also try magnetic jewelry. Someone who is considering getting a piercing may want to wear a piece of temporary jewelry first to see if he or she likes how it looks.