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Permanent jewelry is just what it sounds like: jewelry you can’t easily take off once it’s welded on. Not welded to your body, of course — yikes — but to itself. Unlike a traditional necklace or bracelet, it doesn’t have a clasp, sort of like those permanent metal leg bands that pet birds sometimes wear. The difference is that it’s actually stylish (no offense to any birds). So, if you’re hyper-committed to your anklet phase, here’s what you need to know.
When Did Permanent Jewelry Become Popular?
Seen on the likes of Emma Watson and Liv Tyler, permanent jewelry is having a moment. It first debuted in 1969 in the form of Cartier’s Love Bracelet, a gold band you needed a screwdriver to take off. Brooklyn-based jeweler Catbird revived the concept in 2017 when it unveiled the Forever Bracelet and the process of “zapping” — securing the ends of the delicate chain together with heat — which sounds, perhaps, less daunting than getting the piece welded on.
The trend has since exploded across TikTok and Instagram. Today, it’s popular with young women, with brands like LINK x LOU, Stone and Strand, and Atelier VM offering zapping services as a package deal with their gossamer-thin chains.
Why Do People Get Permanent Jewelry?
The appeal of permanent jewelry is undeniable. First, it really does look streamlined and elegant, with no bulky clasps to interrupt the flow of gold. Many people wear several permanent bracelets, anklets, or necklaces at once to achieve a classic layered look.
Permanent jewelry is also highly customizable. You can choose from a myriad of colors and styles, adding your own dainty charms for extra personalization. Plus, if you’ve always had such small wrists that you have to shop for bracelets in the children’s section, today’s your day. You can actually own a piece that looks grown-up and stays in place.
Then, of course, there’s the permanence factor. True, you could cut off your chain much more easily than you could remove a tattoo, but it’s still a bigger commitment than a summer camp friendship bracelet. Many people get permanent jewelry as a show of love or solidarity. Others collect pieces to showcase their travels, getting a new chain for each state they visit.
It’s easier than ever to get on board with the trend. Some companies have begun offering permanent jewelry pop-up parties for bachelorettes, birthday girls, and moms-to-be. And with hustle culture also enjoying time in the spotlight, the appeal of a bracelet that’s always part of your outfit — removing one more stressful decision from your jam-packed day — is hard to deny. Just set it and forget it.
Things to Consider Before Getting Permanent Jewelry
Permanent jewelry can be a symbolic testament of your everlasting love.
It can also be a royal pain to reattach if you have to cut it off. Consider the following:
- Surgery: Most surgeries require patients to remove all jewelry for safety reasons. Jewelry can carry bacteria from the hospital bathroom, for example, into the operating room, so it poses an infection risk. Be prepared to cut off your bracelet if you want to get LASIK or need your wisdom teeth pulled.
- Medical imaging: If your permanent jewelry is magnetic, like nickel or stainless steel, you’ll have to cut it off if you ever need an MRI.
- Pregnancy: Permanent anklets are undeniably chic, but during pregnancy, they can become unsafe due to ankle swelling.
- School or work: Certain jobs and classes require you to remove all jewelry. If you have an upcoming chemistry lab next semester or are thinking about working in manufacturing, stick to the removable type of jewelry.
- Amusement park rides: Lastly, many theme parks require you to remove jewelry for safety reasons before riding any rides.
Thankfully, permanent jewelry isn’t truly permanent. A swift snip from a pair of scissors can remove it if you ever get fed up with your rose gold or minimalist moons. Plus, permanent jewelry is so thin that it doesn’t pose a risk of entrapment — you won’t be stuck to the kitchen cabinet handle by your wrist if it gets snagged, because you can break the chain yourself if you need to.
Reattaching the jewelry is where things get a little inconvenient. Unlike a chain with a clasp, you can’t put it back on yourself. You’ll instead need to visit a jewelry store or other location that offers permanent jewelry services to have it zapped back in place.
How Much Does Permanent Jewelry Cost?
It varies by brand and style. Catbird’s bracelets start at $98 and go up to over $400 for a Lover’s Chain with added charms. Many companies price their chains by the inch, so smaller jewelry often costs less. Make Made Jewelry, for example, sells its jewelry from $10 to $35 per inch.
How Long Does It Take to Get Zapped?
Getting permanent jewelry typically takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. It’s a good idea to book an appointment so the process will go more smoothly.
First, the jeweler will measure your wrist, neck, or ankle and size the jewelry accordingly. They’ll then use a tiny heat gun — much smaller than a typical welder’s torch! — to attach the ends of the chain. Unlike getting a tattoo or piercing, the process is completely painless.
Does Permanent Jewelry Tarnish or Rust?
Permanent jewelry is typically made from gold, which will not tarnish or rust. If you choose silver jewelry, however, then it does have the potential to tarnish. You can clean it by soaking it for a few minutes in warm water and dish soap. Then, scrub it with a toothbrush, rinse it off, and pat it dry with a silver cloth or microfiber towel.
The Verdict on Permanent Jewelry
If you’re set on a particular style and don’t want the hassle of choosing what to wear every day, permanent jewelry might be right for you. Just remember that if you need to remove it, you’ll have to cut it off and get it reattached at a dedicated jewelry store that offers welding services. Or, you could do what most people have been doing for years — simply leaving their favorite, removable jewelry in place and taking it off only when absolutely necessary.
Your X-ray tech will thank you.
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