‘Permanent jewelry’ video takes off on TikTok

‘Permanent jewelry’ video takes off on TikTok

It’s hard to figure out what’s going on in the TikTok video at first. Two customers sit next to each other, each with a gold chain around their wrist, resting under a small machine that looks like something you’d see in a tool shed.

But the caption says it all. “POV: getting 14k gold bracelets permanently welded with your BFF at Fiat Lux in San Francisco.”

The video, posted from the jewelry store’s account, has since racked up more than 1 million views and nearly 700 comments, with many people appearing to inquire for more information about appointments, tagging interested friends, and even appearing to plan trips to the Bay Area to get their own “permanent jewelry.”

So, is this a larger trend that’s taking off, or a gimmicky fad?

Fiat Lux owner Marie McCarthy, who offers fused jewelry at the shop’s Fillmore and Mission district locations, says demand for this brand of “experiential” jewelry, which the shop has dubbed “fusing,” has taken off throughout the pandemic.

The shops see about up to 60 welded jewelry appointments a week, many for friends, family members and sometimes even couples. Sellers tout it as a hassle-free option for people tired of taking their bracelets on and off or worrying about losing their favorite gold bangle.

Lest there be any confusion, such “permanent” jewelry does not actually become a part of your body.

In fact, the term “soldered” jewelry might give a better idea of what makes the bracelet, anklet or necklace permanent: It doesn’t have a clasp. Rather, it’s custom-fitted to the wearer, with the ends welded together so that it’s not removable — at least, not via a clasp.

“We’re finding that people are starting to do a collection,” said McCarthy, who also owns a tattoo and piercing shop. “We have clients who come in three, four times and get different chains to wear.”

Sellers tout it as a hassle-free option for people tired of taking their bracelets on and off or worrying about losing their favorite gold bangle.

On the other side of the Bay, the Oakland shop Marisa Mason Jewelry is also seeing growing demand for fused jewelry, especially from people coming to the city specifically for the service, said manager Sienna Swan. She said its popularity has grown particularly in the last six to eight months.

“It’s something you can wear all the time, that you don’t have to worry about taking on and off,” said Swan. “It’s kind of a practical way to have a nice piece of jewelry on you … as soon as people heard about it they were very interested.”

The shop, which has been in Oakland for a decade, started offering fused appointments in late summer last year.

“We’ve had people fly in from Las Vegas,” she said, adding that the shop offers appointments only twice a month because the owner is the only one trained to use the welding machine, and it takes some time to do it well.

Here are the details about welded jewelry in the Bay Area:

How does the process work, and how much does it cost?

At the Bay Area stores, after scheduling an appointment, customers come in and pick their chains. The appointments are around 15 minutes at both shops and can start at around $90 but can go up to around $750, depending on the type. Some walk-in appointments are available.

How does the welding work?

Both shops use a miniature welding machine. The employee makes a little jump ring on the chain, and zaps it closed, which creates a bright light. The ends of the bracelet are connected without a clasp.

Is it painful?

No, it shouldn’t be painful. The machine doesn’t touch the skin.

Can I take it off?

Yes. If you don’t want it anymore or need it off for some reason, the shops will remove it free of charge. As a last resort, you can remove the dainty chains yourself — carefully — with scissors.

Can I wear it anywhere? Even through a metal detector?

Yes. The bracelets, which are 14-karat gold at both locations, will not tarnish and can be worn in the ocean, the pool, the shower — and even through a metal detector.

Can I get fused jewelry anywhere on my body?

No. Marisa Mason only offers fused bracelets and anklets; Fiat Lux offers those plus necklaces.

Do I need to do any aftercare?

No, according to both shops. The process is very low-maintenance.

How old do I have to be?

Fiat Lux offers fused jewelry options regardless of age, with parental consent required for children. Marisa Mason offers appointments for those over 12, and also requires parental consent for children.

Annie Vainshtein is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @annievain