I got jewelry permanently welded onto my wrist, and it wasn't nearly as scary or painful as it sounds

·7 min read
The author watches closely as a forever bracelet is permanently welded onto her at Catbird in New York.
I watched closely as the forever bracelet was welded onto my wrist.Jordan Erb/Insider
  • TikTokers are flocking to jewelry stores to get forever bracelets permanently welded onto them.

  • To see what the hype was about, I visited Catbird in NYC with my mom to get matching bracelets.

  • I was nervous about the welding process and permanence, but it didn't hurt and I love the look.

People have been flocking to jewelry stores like Catbird that specialize in forever bracelets since the trend began popping up on social media.

A woman chooses a bracelet at Catbird.
Catbird, one of several jewelry stores offering permanent jewelry, has many forever bracelets to choose from.Jordan Erb/Insider

Permanent jewelry, which involves getting jewelry fit and welded onto you, has taken off on TikTok lately.

Hashtags like #permanentjewelry and #permanentbracelet have garnered hundreds of millions of views on the social-media platform. And the videos I've seen popping up on my TikTok feed, each just a few seconds long, have hundreds of thousands of views, if not millions.

According to Sriya Karumanchi, Catbird's director of marketing, the chain's New York City studios get between 80 and 100 appointments a day. And since permanent jewelry debuted on TikTok, its popularity has only grown, she told Insider.

"We have quite a few TikTokers who regularly come into the SoHo and Williamsburg stores," Karumanchi said. "It's been a huge driver of forever-bracelet awareness."

An employee told Insider that the viral videos had fueled many of the store's recent sales, which makes sense given the number of views each video can accumulate.

I was curious what the permanent jewelry hype was all about, so I visited Catbird with my mom to get matching forever bracelets, and we'll definitely go back soon.

The author poses inside Catbird in New York City.
When I visited one of Catbird's New York City studios, it was bustling with excited shoppers.Jordan Erb/Insider

This month, I relived my childhood passion of getting friendship bracelets. But this time, I decided to make mine permanent.

I'd seen TikTok videos of people getting "permanent jewelry" — necklaces or bracelets that someone professionally welds onto their bodies — so I surprised my mom with a visit to Catbird.

While words like "permanent" and "welding" were intimidating at first, I didn't think the process was as intense as it sounded, and I'll be back for more.

While the bracelets are permanent, they don't attach to or pierce your skin.

The author is having a bracelet welded onto her wrist at Catbird in NYC.
The welding process produces a flash of light, but it doesn't burn your skin.Jordan Erb/Insider

Though "permanent jewelry" may sound extreme, it's not quite what it sounds like.

The bracelet doesn't attach to your skin at all. Instead, a jeweler fits the chain you want to your wrist and welds it closed so that there's no clasp.

While this makes the jewelry permanently welded shut, you can cut the bracelet off if you want or need to.

My mom was nervous she wouldn't like the bracelets enough to want to keep one on forever, but she ended up loving the options and her pick.

The author (right) smiles for a selfie with her mom outside of Catbird.
My mom was a little concerned about the concept.Jordan Erb/Insider

When I told my mom I was taking her to get jewelry welded onto us, she gave me the mom look of, "We're doing what?"

She was worried about the commitment to permanent jewelry and wasn't sure she'd like the style she picked forever. But once we got into the shop and picked our bracelets, her concern quickly faded.

"I envisioned something big and bulky — like handcuffs or something," my mom said after our appointment.

We chose matching paper-clip-patterned bracelets that cost $144 each, which falls in the middle of the price range for a permanent bracelet at Catbird.

Permanent jewelry starts at about $100 depending on the style and where you purchase it. Forever bracelets at Catbird cost the same as those with clasps, and the welding service is free.

Catbird was so packed when we visited on a recent Saturday evening that the longest part of the process was waiting for our appointment.

Customers shop at Catbird in New York City.
Catbird's NYC studio was filled with people.Jordan Erb/Insider

We were surprised to find that the jewelry store was packed when we visited on a Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

There were so many customers shopping and getting permanent jewelry that we had to wait a bit before someone could check us in for our appointment.

We didn't mind because it gave us plenty of time to look around and pick out our jewelry.

From measuring to welding, the entire process after we were seated with our jewelers took less than 10 minutes.

The author waits for the jeweler at Catbird to weld a bracelet onto her wrist.
I felt a little nervous but excited as my jeweler prepared my bracelet.Jordan Erb/Insider

Once we were seated, the employees helped us decide whether we wanted the bracelets to fit loosely, tightly, or somewhere in between.

Then, they measured the bracelet's length, unwinding the gold chain from around a spool, like ribbons at a craft store.

Next, we picked which side we wanted our bracelets on. Since my mom and I wear a watch on our left wrist, we opted to embellish our right.

From start to finish, the entire zapping — Catbird's name for its welding process — took about seven minutes for my mom.

Mine took a bit longer than my mom's, but only because my jeweler started over once to perfect my bracelet's fit. I appreciated that attention to detail.

I was a little intimidated by the flashing light and crackle and pop of the welding tool, but it didn't hurt at all.

A jeweler at Catbird starts to weld a bracelet onto the author.
Using pliers to hold the bracelet shut, the jeweler used a welding tool to close the two ends of the chain together.Jordan Erb/Insider

Before the jewelers went to work on our bracelets, they put on dark glasses, which made me think that maybe I shouldn't be staring at the flashes of light produced from the welding.

The jewelers "are repeating the process over time, so the goggles are a precautionary measure, but it's completely harmless to look at the zap," Karumanchi said. That's good because I did.

Even though I knew it wasn't supposed to hurt, there were still brief moments where I thought the zap might burn me.

Don't worry; it didn't. And it was over in a flash.

Because the welding doesn't create an open flame, she said, it doesn't hurt and customers don't have to cover their wrists.

Karumanchi said there had never been issues damaging customers' skin in Catbird's five years of zapping.

Despite my initial hesitation about having something wrapped around my wrist permanently, I don't feel constricted by my bracelet.

A thin gold bracelet is pictured on the author's wrist.
My bracelet feels so light and dainty that I often don't even realize I'm wearing it.Jordan Erb/Insider

After reading comments on TikTok like, "My claustrophobia could never," I was worried I'd feel confined by always having something around my wrist.

But my bracelet is so lightweight that I barely even notice it.

And I think it's timeless enough that I can wear it with any outfit for a long time.

In fact, my only regret is that I didn't get more — but the person helping me assured me I'd be back.

Overall, my mom and I agreed that getting permanent jewelry together was a bonding experience we'd cherish forever.

The author and her mom show off their gold bracelets.
My mom and I are thrilled with our matching bracelets and our experience getting them together.Jordan Erb/Insider

I thought getting jewelry permanently welded onto our wrists was a fun and unique way to spend an evening with my mom, and she agreed.

Now, we have a memory and a keepsake that we can share for a long time.

Read the original article on Insider