What exactly is a rook piercing? Here's everything you need to know

rook piercing
Rook piercing 101: everything you need to knowSeol & Gold; Studs

You'll likely have heard of a tragus or daith piercing, but the rook?! That's a little more unknown... Which means it's also more unique. I've been mulling over whether to get my rook pierced for a while, having spotted the subtle piercing hidden within many a well-jewelled ear on Instagram – and while eyeing up a great earring stack IRL, too.

Remember the old days when a mere second lobe piercing was the height of edgy and cool? Well, we have luxury piercing brands such as Maria Tash and Sacred Gold to thank for the rise of the modern-day equivalent: the perfectly curated ear, featuring multiple piercings, interesting jewellery and ever-more-niche placements. Trust us, when it's done right, it's just as sought-after as tickets to Taylor Swift's Eras Tour or this season's moto biker boot... And people are getting more and more experimental with the needle.

Hence: the increasingly popular rook piercing. My curiosity well and truly piqued, I booked in to try it out for myself at jewellery boutique and piercers Seol & Gold. In case you're equally intrigued and keen to find out more before you bite the bullet - including where the rook falls on the pain scale - we enlisted the help of Seol & Gold's piercer Erica to give us some insights, along with my first-hand review.

What is a rook piercing?

The rook is an inner-ear piercing that sits on the cartilage ridge or 'shelf' located along the antihelix of your ear, just above the daith, and beside the forward helix. The diagram below is a handy guide, especially if you're a visual learner (like me). Plus, it'll help you figure out how the rook will sit among any other piercings you have.

The piercer will use a sterile needle to go through the cartilage and insert the earring. They'll never use a piercing gun, fyi, so if this is suggested, we'd advise going to a different piercing studio.

Does getting a rook piercing hurt?

As with any piercing, this depends on your personal pain tolerance – but Erica reassures us that it's rarely as bad as people think, explaining that "a skilled piercer will ensure that the procedure is as comfortable and quick as possible." Much appreciated when we're waiting nervously in the chair before crunch time!

Erica says that most clients describe it as a "sharp pressure only lasting for a few seconds". I'd agree with this, however I did feel the shock sensation and throbbing a little stronger for the rook than I did when I had my helix and forward helix piercings. But as Erica promised, it was over in a flash.

rook piercing
Maria Tash; Seol + Gold

How long does a rook piercing take to heal?

As they say, good things come to those who wait – and a rook piercing is no exception. Generally, Erica tells us it should take six to nine months for it to fully heal, but can sometimes take longer. She that insists practicing proper aftercare is key to making sure the healing time goes as quickly and smoothly as possible. And on that note...

How do you take care of a rook piercing?

It might sound obvious, but cleaning your piercing daily is essential. Erica says either once or twice a day is fine, but advises leaving 24 hours after it is pierced before starting the cleaning routine – moving and prodding it while it's still fresh might make it bleed. Saline solution (or simply saltwater) is the best to cleanse. I spray onto gauze, which you can pick up from a pharmacy, but failing that Erica says kitchen towel is a great alternative as there's no risk of fibres getting caught in the piercing.

At first, it's best not to sleep on the piercing side, but as the rook is an in-ear piercing you can go back to sleeping on it after a few weeks. Above all, keeping your general health in good shape will help with the healing. A balanced diet, a good night's sleep and lots of water is the key formula.

Important things to know pre- and post- piercing

Here are some top tips from Erica to help guide your decision and prepare for the needle:

  • Avoid getting pierced before a holiday: You shouldn't submerge your piercing in water for at least six weeks post-piercing, so no pool dunks or deep-sea dives on the itinerary. This includes baths fyi; keep that head firmly above water level.

  • Bring your fave headphones with you: The good news for your commute is that over-ear headphones shouldn't be an issue with a rook piercing. Erica advises bringing your favourite in-ear buds with you "so your piercer can take this into consideration when they’re mapping out the placement of your piercing." I avoided wearing my in-ear headphones for the first two weeks and then quickly adopted them back into my daily routine with no issues.

  • Have a sugary snack and plenty of water: It's best to have eaten something substantial before arriving at the piercing studio and a sugar hit can help those prone to fainting. Erica also advises not to consume alcohol before you get pierced.

  • Not everyone can get a rook piercing: The rook is anatomy dependent, which means that your piercer will check if the shelf of cartilage is prominent enough to hold a piercing and ensure safe healing. There are tonnes of cool alternatives though, like a faux rook.

What type of jewellery can you use for a rook piercing?

For the initial piercing, a curved barbell should be used for the rook as it allows for swelling and doesn't twist. This will likely be a titanium bar as it's nickel-free and good for sensitive skin. As with most new piercings, you'll need to wait until it's fully healed to wear a ring or thinner curved bars. To cure those itchy feet, we've rounded up some of the best rook piercing jewellery to buy now and wear later.

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