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The barbell design is one of the most commonly used pieces of jewelry. While earlier examples exist, it was first popularized in the early 1970s by Jim Ward who created much of the early body jewelry designs.

The barbell consists of a central shaft (pictured here as a straight barbell, although curved barbells and circular barbells are very common as well) with a bead on each end. These beads screw on with either internal threading or external threading.

Making barbells tends to involve a lathe and taps and dies. Handmade barbells from reputable manufacturers tend to cost considerably more than cheaper (usually Asian) imports due to quality control, material polish, material quality, type of threading, and dimensional accuracy.