Permanent Jewelry Problems: Stretching and Breaking

Posted by Jessica Rausch on

One of the questions I get asked most is “How long will it last?” but there’s no way for me to guarantee the actual longevity you’ll get from your jewelry piece!

The term “permanent jewelry” should really include an asterisk, because it’s highly unlikely that your piece will actually last forever.  My husband, an engineer who works in a research lab analyzing metal fatigue, literally laughed at the idea of delicate jewelry metals being considered permanent.  He has spent his whole career studying WHEN - not IF - metals will fail.  Exposure to water/humidity, strain, pressure, etc. all decrease the durability of every metal at some point.

I know that sounds a little bleak in terms of permanent jewelry, but all I’m trying to say is that it’s really unlikely that you’re going to make it to your 50th class reunion with that chain still on your wrist!  I’ve only had my permanent bracelets on for about 3 months, but I’ve heard rumors of friends-of-friends having them for YEARS.  That’s “permanent” enough for me!

When permanent jewelry breaks, it usually happens in one of 3 ways:

  1. It breaks at the weld spot
  2. It breaks in a random spot in the chain
  3. It stretches

The good news is that there’s some super simple things that you and I can do to improve the chances that your permanent jewelry piece will last until you decide to remove it!

Things I can do during your appointment

The right chain and the right fit

When fitting your chain, I aim to find the sweet spot where your chain has a little wiggle room but isn’t super loose.  A chain that’s too tight will get uncomfortable and dig into your skin when your body swells, but a chain that’s too loose is more likely to get caught on things.

But some people want to wear their chains more loose than the typical fit, and that’s FINE!  If you know you want a looser bracelet, let me know that when selecting your chain and I’ll help you choose one with sturdier links to try to prevent stretching!

The weld

When I first got my welder, I had some friends let me practice welding chains on them and within days almost all of them called me to say theirs had come off.  The chains I welded on my own wrist came off.  I realized that what I initially thought was a good weld was actually not really welding the connecting link at all AND I wasn’t double checking the weld. I had sent people home with permanent jewelry that was definitely going to fall off! 🤦  

I’ve been using my welder for several months now, and I don’t just use it for permanent jewelry so I’ve gotten a lot of practice with it.  I have learned how to consistently make solid welds and it has become very rare for a chain to break at the weld spot anymore!  And even though I’m really consistent at nailing the weld now, I still double (and sometimes triple) check by trying to re-open the link after welding.

What you can do after leaving

Be mindful

Take your time when removing clothing or other accessories near your permanent jewelry.  I stretched the heck out of my permanent anklet one evening when I tried to quickly strip off my leggings.  When the fabric turned inside out just above my ankle, it caught my anklet and when I tried to pull the leggings off, my chain stretched more than an inch.  If I had just taken the time to gently pull the fabric off my leg, it would have been fine!

If you work in a field like nursing where you frequently remove gloves and you really want a bracelet, consider taping over it on the inside of your wrist at the start of your shift so that when you grab your glove to pull it off, your finger should slide over the tape, not into your chain!

The one thing neither of us has any control over: Random breakage

Like I mentioned before, it’s not a matter of IF metal will break, it’s a matter of WHEN.  A customer had the bracelet in the picture above for a few weeks when it suddenly fell off of her wrist one day.  The welded links are still intact and the chain isn’t stretched out, so there must have been a flaw in the manufacturing of this chain that got worse and eventually broke once the customer started wearing it.  There’s nothing she or I could have done differently to prevent this.

The solutions

If your chain stretches (but doesn’t break) I can shorten it and re-weld it.  If it breaks (no matter why) and you still have the chain, I can reattach it.

Permanent Jewelry

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