What You Need To Know About The Permanent Jewelry Craze

You have probably been told often never to get someone's name — especially a romantic partner's name — tattooed on you, and for a good reason: Getting a permanent marking of what could be a temporary relationship is a recipe for potential regrets. But what if you want to commemorate your special bond with someone in a lasting way? Is there anything that feels sentimental and long-lasting but without remorse if things go south? Enter the permanent jewelry craze.

Seen on celebrities like Meghan Markle and Jessica Alba, permanent jewelry is a recent trend that many can't get enough of. People who get permanent jewelry (or jewelry that is welded shut rather than clasped) frequently opt for bracelets, but necklaces, rings, and anklets are available at select retailers. 

Permanent jewelry allows you to mark a special occasion or celebrate a relationship in a durable and long-lasting way — but not quite as permanent as, say, a tattoo. Since permanent jewelry can be easily removed, it doesn't carry the same risks as tattooing. In fact, many people, such as Karly Delatorre, who got a permanent bracelet as a Valentine's Day present from her husband, find permanent jewelry to be a "perfect middle ground" per (Vox). "The bracelet is far more sparkly than any tattoo and seems more timeless to me. I can picture myself getting tired of a tattoo on my wrist, but the sweet dainty chain matches everything and just makes me look more put-together," Delatorre said. 

What is permanent jewelry?

Permanent jewelry is a type of jewelry that you can't take off as you normally would. Instead of a bracelet or necklace that fastens with a clasp, permanent jewelry is welded together at an in-person appointment, meaning the only way to get it off is to cut it off with scissors, according to popular permanent jewelry retailer, Catbird.

Since it is "permanent," it can hold more sentiment than a typical piece of jewelry, so it's a go-to choice for couples, best friends, siblings, or any other people who want to commemorate their bond. According to Catbird cofounder Rony Vardi (via Vogue), "Permanency in fine jewelry is something that I think is really appealing to us and our customers." Vardi adds that permanent jewelry is "unfussy in the sense that you always have it on" but adds that "there's also something inherently precious in wanting to keep something close to you always." 

On top of being sentimental, permanent jewelry is "just cool," as jewelry brand owner Candice Neistat said (via Vox). Not to mention that permanent jewelry is great for those who are constantly losing our favorite rings and bracelets!

Does getting permanent jewelry hurt?

If you've seen videos of someone getting a permanent bracelet, you may have been slightly horrified. After all, the person welding the bracelet shut is wearing safety glasses, and there is a distinctive "spark" as the metal is welded together that looks a little scary.

However, even though Catbird calls the bracelet welding process "zapping," there is open flame in the welding process and – more importantly – no pain involved. A writer for Insider, Jordan Parker Erb, shared her experience getting a permanent bracelet at Catbird, and she admitted, "Even though I knew it wasn't supposed to hurt, there were still brief moments where I thought the zap might burn me." Erb reassures readers that her fears were unfounded, as the welding process was completely painless. It was also a quick process: "It was over in a flash," she wrote. Erb said the person who welded her bracelet told her there had never been an incident of zapping damaging a person's skin in the five years since Catbird began doing permanent bracelets.

What is the process of getting permanent jewelry like?

The process of getting permanent jewelry done will vary based on where you go; however, most places will generally have customers follow some key steps. The first step is to schedule an appointment; although Catbird's website states they do accept walk-ins, appointments are recommended. Whether you'll be going to Catbird or a different permanent jewelry retailer, making an appointment is always a safe step to ensure you're not stuck waiting for hours.

When you arrive at your appointment, you'll have the chance to speak with jewelers to "review your chain and charm options," according to Catbird cofounder Rony Vardi (per Byrdie). Once you've chosen the perfect chain, you choose which wrist you want your bracelet on, and then your wrist will be measured. If you opt for a permanent jewelry retailer who offers permanent rings, necklaces, and anklets, you will follow a similar procedure of choosing placement and getting measurements. Once you've chosen the perfect chain, you will then work with a jeweler to select the perfect length to ensure you get the "fit that is best for the look you'd like," according to Vardi.

When all of that is finalized, it's time for the zap! Per Insider, the jeweler will use pliers to hold the two ends of the jewelry in place, then will use the welding tool to "zap" the ends together, closing the bracelet. According to Insider, this entire process takes less than ten minutes.

What types of permanent jewelry are available?

By far the most common type of permanent jewelry is bracelets, but other types of permanent embellishments are catching on. The company Love Weld, for example, offers permanent necklaces in several cities across the United States, from New York City to San Antonio. Marisa Mason offers permanent anklets (and bracelets) in Oakland and Santa Barbara.

When it comes to the jewelry itself, most retailers offer permanent jewelry in gold since it is durable and won't stain or discolor the skin. Catbird, for example, offers select styles in white gold, rose gold, and traditional yellow gold. For those looking for an extra-sparkly embellishment, Catbird allows customers to add a diamond or star charm to their chain for an added cost. Chain types also vary depending on the specific retailer. Still, Catbird's selection includes the finest, delicate chains to sturdier box chains and even an adorable chain of tiny hearts (hello, Valentine's Day present!).

Why choose permanent jewelry?

If you're looking for something permanent to commemorate your bond with another person — or you just like the look of a dainty piece of everyday jewelry — permanent jewelry is a safer, pain-free alternative to a tattoo. It's sentimental and a great way to express emotions via jewelry. Founder of jewelry line Stone and Strand Nadine Kahane said (via The Zoe Report), "Jewelry has served as a physical manifestation of emotions since the beginning of time, and I love thinking about how modern interpretations link back to previous eras." Permanent jewelry is a perfect example of why jewelry has been used throughout time to celebrate love and connection.

Permanent bracelets not only add a little something extra to your look, but they are also so minimalistic and versatile that they look good on literally everyone. Kahane states, "The simplicity of a permanent bracelet also allows them to be seamlessly worn by all genders and ages."

How long does permanent jewelry last?

The idea behind permanent jewelry is that it's, well, permanent. According to Vox, they can last a "lifetime." Catbird's Chief Creative Officer Leigh Plessner told The Zoe Report, "Our Forever Bracelets are all made from solid 14k gold, which is very low-fuss and won't stain your skin or lose its golden gleam. I've been wearing some of my Forever Bracelets for five-ish years, and I've never done anything to them, aside from occasionally snipping a tangled thread or fuzz from it."

Despite the long-lasting nature of the jewelry, your mileage may vary. There's always a chance your bracelet will get caught on something and snap or wear down quickly if you work a lot with your hands. On Reddit, one user who got permanent jewelry said, "I have one on my ankle that I got with my best friend. Hers already snagged onto something and came off. Mine hasn't!" Another user noted, "The whole concept is not for people who love sauna and swimming a lot I guess." For most people, a permanent bracelet can withstand daily life, including showering, washing dishes, swimming, and most other activities. However, it's a good idea to consider your lifestyle before going for permanent jewelry.

How much does permanent jewelry cost?

Catbird, the most popular retailer for permanent bracelets, has pricing starting around $100 and going all the way up to around $350 (per Byrdie). You can also add charms for an additional fee or a diamond for an extra $118. Although the price is admittedly steep, you know that you're paying for high-quality materials. "Our Forever Bracelets are made with 100% recycled gold, and our wider Catbird line is made with over 95% recycled gold," Catbird cofounder Rony Vardi said (via Byrdie). "It's a sustainability benchmark we are so proud to have reached, after a lot of internal work to ensure that as we grow we maintain sourcing standards that meet our commitment to our people and the planet. More so, wearing a piece of solid gold that is made well means you are shopping consciously, choosing to buy that which lasts."

If you're looking for a more affordable options for permanent jewelry, there are some out there. For example, Alexandra Marks Jewelry offers permanent bracelets in gold-filled and sterling silver that start at $40. However, lower-quality materials may tarnish and may not be as durable as pricier options, so that's something to keep in mind.

Can you take permanent jewelry off?

Despite the name, permanent jewelry can be taken off if you decide you don't want to wear it anymore. It's as easy as cutting the bracelet off with a pair of scissors, according to Byrdie. There are some situations where you'd need to take the bracelet off — an MRI is one example. But generally, the bracelets are not an issue in most situations and will not set off metal detectors in airport security or elsewhere.

The permanent-ish nature of this jewelry is a big part of its appeal. "The thing I like about these," Sriya Karumanchi, Catbird's marketing manager, said (via Vox), "is that it's permanence with an easy opt-out option. A lot of times, when we talk about permanence, we get overwhelmed with the idea of making a decision that we will later come to regret. This is something that you can put on and it will stay with you loyally until a time in which you prefer to not have it."

Where did permanent jewelry come from?

Like many trends these days, the recent attention on permanent jewelry can be credited to TikTok. Searching "permanent bracelet" on TikTok brings up thousands of videos of girls and their friends getting a new chain to add to their "stack."

However, when it comes to the first store that offered permanent jewelry, it appears to be — you guessed it — Catbird in NYC. "For many years, we had been experimenting with the concept of permanent jewelry," Catbird cofounder Rony Vardi said (via Byrdie). "Our in-house jewelers would solder chains in the studio using the 14k gold materials we had on hand." Their Forever Bracelet was (and still is) the most popular type of permanent jewelry, and once it launched in 2017, it took off (per The Zoe Report).

While Catbird may be credited with the first dainty permanent bracelet made of chain, Cartier's Love Bracelet, which came out in 1969, may have been the first iteration of permanent jewelry since it can only be put on and taken off with a screwdriver.

Is permanent jewelry only for couples?

Permanent jewelry is for anyone! According to Catbird cofounder Rony Vardi (per Byrdie), "After a few record turnouts, we knew it was a service meant to be offered in the shops. We love the community it's created — there's countless photos we're sent of sisters, daughters and moms, couples, and friends all commemorating something with the Forever Bracelet."

While permanent jewelry is a sweet and sentimental idea for couples, it's equally appropriate for best friends, as evidenced by Julia West (via Vox). West said: "I have a best friend of almost 20 years now and we grew up together. She and I always tried to do friendship bracelets, and every single time, she would lose the other half of the heart or the locket, so we stopped doing it. ... I messaged her on Instagram and I was like, 'Oh, my god, Katie, now you can never lose it.'" According to Vox, the two best friends went on to get permanent bracelets, and West said, "it's really special to have something that is so permanent. I mean, I know that it is able to come off if I need it to, but it's a nice reminder that she's there, and she has the same one."

Where can you get permanent jewelry?

Although permanent jewelry is growing in popularity, it's still a relatively new trend, and if you're in a more remote area, it may be hard to find a permanent jewelry provider near you. With that said, many companies do pop-ups, where they travel around a certain region, offering their services at boutiques, salons, and other spaces. Link x Lou, for example, has permanent jewelry pop-ups in 32 states.

The iconic Catbird in New York City is the ultimate place to get a permanent bracelet but Stacked in Los Angeles or Astrid & Miyu in London are other popular choices. If you're looking for a company focused on ethically sourced materials, Lackadazee could be a good option since its emphasis is on providing ethical and sustainable pieces. Ultimately, a quick internet search can tell you where you can find the nearest permanent jewelry provider that meets the specific requirements you're looking for.

Will permanent jewelry get rusty or change colors?

If you're wondering if permanent jewelry stays looking good, it really just depends on where you get your permanent jewelry done and how well you care for it. As you can probably guess, opting for a cheaper piece of permanent jewelry made from a material other than gold means there is no guarantee that the jewelry will hold up over time.

Shelling out a bit more money for a high-quality material can ensure that the jewelry will not rust, change colors, or stain your skin; higher-priced retailers like Catbird guarantee your jewelry will stay looking new for years. "Because we work in 14k solid gold, you can truly sweat, sleep, swim and live life in your Forever Bracelet without worrying about fade and tarnish," Catbird cofounder Rony Vardi said (via Byrdie). "Essentially you wake up everyday to an unfussy but shimmering jewelry look built in."

Is permanent jewelry just a trend?

Permanent jewelry may, in fact, be a trend — it did start on TikTok, after all — but if it is, it's not looking like it's going to die down any time soon. According to Catbird's director of marketing, Sriya Karumanchi, the popularity of permanent jewelry on TikTok has driven sales up. "We have quite a few TikTokers who regularly come into the SoHo and Williamsburg stores," Karumanchi said (via Insider). "It's been a huge driver of forever-bracelet awareness."

On top of the TikTok traffic, Catbird gets a whopping 80 to 100 permanent bracelet appointments per day (per Insider). So, yes, permanent jewelry is certainly trending, but judging by the amount of people trying out the trend, it hasn't left the spotlight yet. Additionally, permanent jewelry's simplistic design — often just a thin, barely-there chain — makes it a timeless look; it's unlikely that wearing a dainty bracelet, necklace, or anklet will ever be out of style.