There’s a recent trend circulating on social media that could arguably give body modifications like piercings and tattoos a run for their money.
The pain free form of self expressionism is dubbed permanent jewelry – and it has become popular for those desiring a custom accessory.
Sarah Sides, the CEO and founder of Love Weld, has been working in the jewelry business for over a decade.
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After working in trend and market research for one of the largest fair trade jewelry companies, Sides said she discovered the beginnings of permanent jewelry with Hannah Keefe – a permanent jewelry artist who used a blow torch to create permanent bangles.
Catbird NYC, one of Sides’ inspirations, coined the term “zapping” for its permanent jewelry line.
Fox News Digital reached out to Catbird NYC for comment.
“The idea kind of consumed me. I became obsessed with this,” Sides told Fox News Digital.
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Bracelets are the lowest selling category in jewelry because of fit, Sides noted.
“As grown-ups, it was kind of taking us back to that time in middle school where you were making friendship bracelets, and you really felt like you were part of something special.”
“Bracelets are like shoes in that you need the right size to fit your wrist,” Sides explained.
Sides saw this design as more than a trend, but rather a “brand that could stand on its own,” he said.
After toying around with the early welding technology in 2019, Sides launched the company from her garage in 2020 with a “Galentine’s Day” event for her close girlfriends.
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“It was magic. As grown-ups, it was kind of taking us back to that time in middle school where you were making friendship bracelets, and you really felt like you were part of something special,” Sides said.
She then opened her first brick and mortar storefront in Austin in May 2021.
“Permanent jewelry is all we do. I have a team of 30-plus individuals who eat, sleep and breathe welding,” Sides commented.
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At Love Weld, Sides designed and named the chains used for the bracelets after individuals who have impacted her life – starting with her three sisters, Emily, Caroline and Hannah.
“When creating the permanent jewelry line, [we landed on something that] needs to be durable but comfortable and lightweight,” Sides noted.
“The idea is that it’s just like a second skin.”
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“I see a lot of people who see this as a fun, less scary alternative to a piercing or tattoo, but still the same shared experience.”
Sides have had multiple customers come in who have for a clasped bracelet, but eventually came back wanting to make it permanent.
Permanent jewelry is either attached by a barely-there jump ring hidden within the chain, or it is welded to itself, depending on the chain used.
Welders will use a stylus with a needle at that end which will melt the ring or open space together using electricity along with a grounding wire to keep the spark contained.
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“It kind of gives you the thrill of a tattoo or piercing without the pain,” Sides noted.
Sides have had her fair share of encounters with clients who have come to Love Weld with the intention of getting a permanent bracelet after backing out of a tattoo appointment.
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“I see a lot of people who see this as a fun, less scary alternative to a piercing or tattoo, but still the same shared experience,” Sides said.
Permanent jewelry can be a way to celebrate love and friendship or commemorate loved ones.
Alayna Sepic documented her permanent bracelet excursion on TikTok after getting one with her best friend at Brave Daughters in Boston, Massachusetts, she told Fox News Digital.
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“I really like that you can get a 14-karat gold band because it doesn’t tarnish or stretch over time, and it’s always on my wrist without having to worry about losing or misplacing it,” Sepic shared.
At Love Weld, the permanent jewelry is made up of 14-karat solid gold as well as diamonds or stones.
The care for these bracelets is simple, due to the durability of the metal used – this may vary depending on where you choose to get your bracelet welded.
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Baking soda or lemon may be used to shine the accessory along with a soft cloth or your wrist.
I think it’s going to become the future – where it’s about the jewelry being tailored to your person.
You can use cleaning products, shower, swim or sweat and the jewelry will not tarnish or change color, according to Sides.
Bracelets are the most common form of permanent jewelry, but Love Weld offers rings, anklets, necklaces and even full body chains.
If you were to get a permanent piece of jewelry and wanted to remove it, Sides said you could easily snip the bracelet with a pair of scissors.
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Many permanent jewelry stores will even re-weld the piece if you had it removed and wanted it reattached.
“The intention behind [the jewelry] is what gets people in the door, but what keeps them coming back is that it’s liberating,” Sides added.
She said having a bracelet fit perfectly to you for the first time was a liberating experience.
“The custom tailored piece of [permanent jewelry] is such an unexpected bonus, which is why I think it’s not going to be a trend,” Sides commented.
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“I think it’s going to become the future – where it’s about the jewelry being tailored to your person.”
TikTok videos showing users getting permanent bracelets have garnered millions of views in the last few months, with some people getting more than one on their wrist.
Once you get one bracelet, you will want to add it to your stack, Sides said, adding that “there is an addiction.”
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