Rook Piercing

A rook piercing is a piercing done in the cartilage of the ear. Its exact location is nestled in the fold of cartilage right below the top rim of the ear. This area of the ear is known as the anti-helix.

An Overview of Rook Piercing

Rook piercing is done right above the other bit of cartilage where the last bit of the outer ear folds into the inner ear, which people also get pierced with a piercing known as a daith piercing.

Because these piercings are in such close proximity to one another, people often confuse their names, so if you are going in to get either piercing, it might be a good idea to carry in a picture of exactly what you're wanting done. Otherwise, you might come out with the wrong piece of cartilage pierced.

Where to Go for a Rook Piercing

Although retail stores like Claire's have recently moved into the cartilage piercing business, they still don't do the more unique piercings. Therefore, if you are looking for rook piercings, you'll have to visit a tattoo and piercing shop. These are the safest places to get these types of piercings anyway because they use straight, hollow needles rather than a piercing gun.

Is Rook Piercing Expensive?

As is the case with most exotic piercings, the cost for the piercing will vary depending upon where you're getting it done and the type of jewelry with which you choose to pierce. The basic cost of piercing can range anywhere from $30 to over $100, but the additional cost of the jewelry will generally raise the total price by at least $25 or more.

However, there are a few things to consider when shopping around for the right piercer or shop. Just because something is cheap doesn't mean it is high quality; in fact, it often means exactly the opposite. Don't try to save money at the expense of choosing the best and safest option.

The same goes for jewelry. Cheaper jewelry is made of cheaper materials. These materials can be less sterile, less compatible with sensitive skin and more prone to causing infections. Higher quality jewelry made of gold, platinum or silver is bound to have a higher price, but it will also help you heal faster, as well.

The Process

The process for a rook piercing can actually be a little complicated because the spot of cartilage being pierced is so small. To help minimize the potential for mistakes, most piercers will have you lie flat on the side of your body opposite the ear being pierced.

Because the area being pierced is so small, it is imperative you don't move at all during the piercing process. To help with this, the piercer might do any number of things to keep your mind focused and not worrying about the pain. The piercer may even have you regulate your breathing so that he can pierce the ear on your exhale.

In this case, the piercer will have you take a deep breath, hold it, and then let it out. The moment you let it out, he will slide the hollow needle through the cartilage, drop the stud through the needle, remove the needle and then put the ends on and tighten them.

Will It Hurt?

If you have ever gotten a cartilage piercing before, you already know about what to expect from a rook piercing. However, if you haven't, then you may be curious as to how much pain the piercing will cause you.

The answer is different for different people because pain is a relative concept. However, as piercings go, rook piercings are about a five out of ten on the pain scale. They hurt more than regular earlobe piercings because they are in cartilage rather than a fatty, fleshy area.

The piercing process, though, is very quick; you will likely feel a bit of a pinch and a small pulling sensation, and then it will all be over and done. Your ear will probably remain sore for a few days or even a week after the piercing.

Healing Time

Like all cartilage piercings, rook piercings can take quite a while to heal completely. Most websites will say it takes about three months for the piercing to heal, but the truth is that these types of piercings can actually take nearly a full year to be completely healed.

It is critical that you continue performing all the required aftercare practices during the entire healing process, no matter how long it takes. If you don't, you could be setting yourself up for infections, keloids or incredibly unattractive cartilage bumps.

The Aftercare Process

All the regular aftercare rules for piercings apply to the rook as well. However, there are also additional rules for aftercare with rook piercings. Just as the location of the cartilage being pierced makes the process difficult for the piercer, it also makes the piercing site difficult to keep clean.

Dirt, sweat, flakes of skin and other matter can accumulate in the folds of cartilage in your ear, and if they get into the hole while it is healing, they can cause a lot of damage. That's why it's imperative you use a saline solution or sea salt soak to regularly clean and sanitize the site. Sea salt spray should also be applied liberally throughout the day in between soakings.

It's also important that you don't move the jewelry while you're cleaning the site. It is a difficult task, to be sure, but somehow, you need to find a way to keep the jewelry still and secure. Cartilage piercings are very susceptible to damage, and the smallest bump of the stud could cause the hole to stretch or tear. Of course this also means you shouldn't play or fiddle with the jewelry. Touch it as little as possible, and not touching it at all would be best.

Since the jewelry doesn't need to be moved or touched, it's also important you don't wear anything that will touch your ears. Refrain from wearing over-the-ear headphones. If you wear hats or other head-gear, ensure they do not cover or even touch your ears.

Finally, you really shouldn't remove or change out the original stud for at least a year. Even if you're one of those people who heals quickly and your site heals within a few months, there is no reason to take a chance on damaging your ear or risking infection by changing out the stud. This is another reason you should carefully consider which piece of jewelry you want the piercer to use originally; you will be stuck with it for a long time.

What Are the Drawbacks?

Besides the lengthy aftercare process and the potential for damage, there aren't a lot of downsides to this piercing. However, if the cartilage in your anti-helix area is especially small, the piercing might not look how you expect it to look. Talk to the person piercing you beforehand if you have any concerns.

What Kind of Jewelry Can I Wear?

After rook piercings are fully healed, the types of jewelry you can wear are pretty varied. The most popular jewelry for rook piercings are curved barbells – larger ones for a dangly look and smaller ones for a snug, right-against-the-skin look – and hoops. There are also numerous charms and dangles you can add to the hoops to make them look even more stylish and unique.