Permanent jewelry sounds a little like something you’d find in Lord of the Rings or Skyrim, but it’s actually an unusual jewelry style that’s been gaining much traction on social media lately. We’re all familiar with that sense of dread about losing your most valued bracelet or necklace to a faulty clasp and a moment of inattention, aren’t we?
From sentimental value to what we spend on our jewelry pieces, no one wants a lost treasure. Permanent jewelry offers a novel way to ensure this will never happen and can be a beautiful statement in itself, too. Today the Love and Lavender team will be diving deeper into this new trend, so we’ve got the answers to all your questions.
What Is Permanent Jewelry?
Permanent jewelry is a type of jewelry that is painlessly welded (or ‘zapped’) directly onto the body by a professional jeweler. Without a robust set of scissors and concerted effort, it’s not coming off.
Most permanent jewelry pieces (like bracelets or necklaces) are made with 14k gold, which is robust and tarnish-resistant. Due to the lower karat value, it is also scratch resistant. Gemstone embellishments can also be added to reflect the personality and style of the wearer.
As with piercings, your jewelry will always be with you, banishing concerns about loss or theft. As with permanent makeup, your look is always 100% polished, even moments after you wake.
Of course, as with anything permanent, it’s not without its drawbacks- from the psychological idea of having something permanently with you to the need to have them professionally removed for medical procedures. But the concept is intriguing indeed.
How Did The Trend of Permanent Jewelry Start?
The idea of a jewelry piece we treasure so much that we wear it all the time is hardly new. Ancient civilizations would never remove protection charms and important jewelry. We also saw Cartier debut a similar idea in 1969 with the ‘Love Bracelet,’ which could not be removed without a screwdriver.
And you may just remember the ‘friendship bracelets’ 90s kids used to trade at school and promise never to remove. So this is a reinvention of an old concept. As with so many social media trends these days, we have TikTok to thank for popularizing this round. But why has the idea found so much appeal?
Firstly, permanent jewelry actually plays nicely with the rising concerns about sustainability and the environment. With one permanent look, you’re consciously consuming less and investing in quality. The de facto home of modern permanent jewelry, Catbird, uses recycled gold for its products for an added ethical splash.
You’ll see similar themes echoed through many other well-known studios, like charitable donations, ethical sourcing, and more. Plus, people love the idea of a simpler, less fussy life that still celebrates every milestone.
How did Catbird arrive at the idea? In fairness, Atelier VM actually tried something similar in 2014, but without a lot of interest at the time. In 2017, Catbird tried the notion of a free-offer day among their existing customer base. This time, the idea was so popular they started offering it as a permanent service later that year. And it has ballooned from there.
Worries about loss aren’t the only reason permanent jewelry is so hot right now. Jewelry and emotion have been linked since the dawn of time. People are finding the symbolism of an unbroken bond a deeply appealing one, getting permanent jewelry to celebrate a lost loved one or a lifelong friendship between two besties, an intergenerational family, or a happy couple.
It’s also become the go-to way to celebrate life milestones with a deeply personal piece of jewelry that will stay close to your heart.
That sentimental touch is what is making permanent jewelry so special right now- and will likely make it a trend that stays. So it’s worth having on your radar.
Can Any Jewelry Be Made Into Permanent Jewelry?
Catbird, the New York City jeweler best known for their permanent jewelry, currently only offers bracelet options in their catalog, starting at around $100. Bracelets are by far the most common permanent jewelry items. However, as we’re sure you can tell, the concept would work just as well for:
And any other items that can easily loop around a limb. Necklaces and anklets do carry a snag risk that bracelets don’t, however. What would be interesting to know is if they’ll manage to find a way to do this for rings!
If you’re hoping to find a welder for permanent jewelry, we’d start with your favorite jeweler. With the trend blowing up, they may be willing to ‘zap’ you. Or you can look for one of the studios becoming known for their permanent jewelry, like:
You will select your jewelry at the studio, and about 10-15 minutes later, you’ll be done! The cost will vary based on the jewelry you buy, but as we mentioned, you can find starter pieces at a very low price, so it’s accessible to everyone. Some are on offer for as little as $30.
Adding gems or fancier designs will raise the cost- quite significantly if you’re considering real diamonds or gems.
Compared to Tattoos, Is Permanent Jewelry Also Forever?
Permanent jewelry isn’t really as permanent as a tattoo, or even a piercing. Tattoos can be difficult to remove and need intrusive laser work and luck. Piercings will often heal up if the jewelry is removed, but you risk a hole or mark.
Permanent jewelry will leave no mark at all if you change your mind later. All you would need to do is either return to the jeweler for removal (if you want to preserve the piece) or snip them off yourself. They just can’t come loose easily in day-to-day wear.
As you can guess, this makes them a whole lot safer than piercings, let alone tattoos. There’s no penetration into the skin or tissue, so there’s absolutely no infection risk. No foreign body is introduced into your body.
The ‘zap,’ or weld, is created by the jeweler using a small tab and laser, so there’s no wound to heal or risk from the welding. And the process is quick and painless. Much more comparable to getting a facial than getting a tattoo!
How to Live With and Care For Permanent Jewelry
You’ll notice the permanent jewelry we’ve mentioned so far is all gold. Sterling silver is a much more reactive metal and can easily tarnish and damage under many common conditions. For example, when exposed to pool chlorine!
Choosing a high-quality, non-reactive metal is a must for permanent jewelry. This will let you normally live, as sweat from the gym and trace touches from daily life won’t affect the metal. They are also delicate enough not to need removal for most security clearances, especially metal detectors.
That doesn’t mean you can ignore them, however! You will want to be careful in situations where the piece could snag or break, both for your safety and its. Your piece should be up to daily hygiene routines, but be sure to rinse soaps, creams, and makeup well.
You will also want to get into the habit of gently wiping down the piece with a soft, lint-free cloth, especially after bathing, to dry the metal. If you notice a thread catch on the piece, it can simply be snipped off.
A quality piece, even a deceptively simple one, shouldn’t discolor easily. But if your piece is getting grungy, you can have it removed and professionally cleaned. If you love the idea of a stone or charm, you must think carefully. Pearl, for example, cannot be used on this style of jewelry as it is too soft and won’t react well to daily living. How the stone is set will also influence the piece’s longevity.
Has this novel new trend piqued your curiosity? Are you going to get a celebratory piece to eternalize a special moment? Even if permanent jewelry isn’t for you, you must admit it’s a fascinating and novel new way to celebrate life, love, laughter, and everything good.
Just as jewelry always has! It’s always fascinating to see what jewelry trends come and go, but with a lovely sentiment and simplicity of wear behind it, as well as the ease of removal if you wish, we can see permanent jewelry being a trend that stays around for a long time.