By Ashie Luke
Jewellers are constantly looking for the next big thing. There is always a product, style, or colour that is trending. At the moment, permanent jewellery is all the rage on TikTok. The concern with buying into any trend is its longevity. Is the permanent jewellery trend just a trend? We spoke to Jonathan Young, the chief executive officer of Sunstone, micro welding experts based in the US, where permanent jewellery has taken off.
According to Jonathan, Australia is currently where the US was a year ago with permanent jewellery. Permanent jewellery is not a new concept, however, it is now becoming more accessible, as it was mostly an offering you would see in higher-end boutiques in places like New York City. This trend didn’t truly catch hold until recently. Jonathan says, “What we are seeing is the type of people [interested], usually are women entrepreneurs who are starting these businesses.” These entrepreneurs aren’t even necessarily from jewellery backgrounds. They recognise that the offering is beneficial and growing at a fast pace.
“JCK recently put [out] an article [that] said permanent jewellery business is [the] now. It’s not a trend. It’s a permanent business, and we’re seeing a lot of momentum in the States,” Jonathan says. Sunstone is responsible for manufacturing micro welding technologies. It helped create the concept with the original permanent jewellery equipment and then sold the technology into the industry. “We’ve helped fill that hole to help drive that industry with other permanent jewellery artists, but we’re seeing a tremendous amount of people flocking to permanent jewellery because it’s a service people want,” he says.
What is so alluring about permanent jewellery is that it is an experience. That is what people want to purchase. Bracelets are available everywhere and have been for thousands of years. You can buy a bracelet, but permanent jewellery buys an experience. “What people want is an actual experience with jewellery, like a tattoo… It marks an occasion, it marks a memory,” Jonathan adds. Permanent jewellery isn’t a solo experience. People often come together to purchase it, whether for bridal showers, as matching pieces for mothers and daughters, or as a way for couples to express their love. The circumstances for acquiring permanent jewellery are diverse and experiential, involving shared moments and connections, which is the product’s point of difference.
When asked about concerns about creating a sustainable business model if the piece is permanent, Jonathan squashed the doubts. “First of all, you don’t just weld it to someone’s wrist… they can get welded permanent jewellery [as] anklets, necklaces, even bodywork. But what a lot of people are doing [is] called stacking. They will stack [bracelets] on their wrist… multiple [pieces], and some may even change the design. Even though it’s permanent, they can cut it off and keep that piece [as] something they hold onto,” he says.
“We were at the beauty show and some of these other events where we’ve seen people show up, and they’re like, ‘Yep, I got one. I’m ready for another one!’ And so they’re happy to show what they’ve gotten already, but they want to add to it because they enjoy the experience. So, we see that happening. You don’t have to get it in one area. There are other areas of the body that people are adding it to,” Jonathan adds.
So, how can businesses jump on board? First and foremost, Jonathan recommends being open to the business opportunity. When he began promoting permanent jewellery, many jewellers showed little interest and were instead keen on staying focused on their specific niche. “That’s great, but [customers will] go get permanent jewellery down the hall. So, as [businesses] would have people asking for it, we saw those same jewellers several months later say, ‘Okay, now I need to add this,’” he says.
Jonathan urges Australian businesses to not make the same mistake. Our market needs to catch up, and now is the opportunity to get ahead. Sunstone is equipped with many types of welding equipment ranging from entry-level pieces to more advanced. “I have many clients in the States making a hundred thousand dollars a year in their first year, just doing this as a side business… the trend is not just a trend. There is demand. If you promote it, you have the technology, [and] you’ve been trained. We have free training, and [if you] incorporate it into your business, you [will] have success. So don’t wait for it. Jump on it and be part of it,” he says.
The hype surrounding permanent jewellery is undeniable, and the social media craze is driving this trend. People are eager to get the pieces, film them, and put them on their socials. With a sensation like this, the consumer ultimately becomes the marketer. The investment practically pays itself with free advertising. “If [consumers] know you provide it, [they] will line up to get it… Our partners, Australian Jewellery Supply, provide this now… If you embrace it, especially with young people, [they] are so attuned to doing this that they want to do things a certain way. They want to have the flexibility and the freedom. This [enables] them to do it in a fun way. People love it,” says Jonathan.
All signs are pointing to yes with permanent jewellery. The technology is available, the interest is apparent, and the demand shows no indication of slowing down. Now, it all comes down to your business. Are you ready to provide more than just jewellery? “If you can do it, you’ll have a lot of fun making a great living,” Jonathan says.