At long last, the permanent jewelry trend has attached itself to Cincinnati.
Queen City eastsider Lindsey Brafford started her permanent jewelry business in Cincinnati in June. Brafford is affiliated with LINK x LOU, a popular permanent jewelry company that launched in Denver in April 2020 and now has locations all over the country.
This fast-moving trend – which loops jewelry like bracelets and necklaces around body parts forever – has become immensely popular, and in her short time of doing it in Cincinnati, her pop-ups have been selling out in 15 minutes. Local businesses also have increasingly requested LINK x LOU Cincinnati at their pop-ups, Brafford says.
“It’s been absolutely incredible, and I am just so thankful for the response. But I just knew going into it that Cincinnati would be the perfect market for it,” Brafford tells CityBeat.
Brafford says that she first heard of permanent jewelry when Over-the-Rhine clothing boutique The Native One hosted a pop-up in December. Brafford made her first purchase at that pop-up — two bracelets — and was “instantly hooked,” she says.
After that, Brafford checked to see if there were any permanent jewelry spots nearby every time she traveled, and she ended up getting bracelets in Nashville and Denver. She says that one day a realization hit her.
“Why don’t we have this in Cincinnati? It would be such a great market for it,” she remembers thinking.
Brafford, who previously was in the human resources and events industries, trained at the LINK x LOU headquarters in Denver for a week to learn all about the permanent jewelry process.
It’s pretty simple, she says. If a Cincinnatian want to get “linked,” they can stop by a pop-up or schedule a party, pick out their jewelry and have it sized to the perfect fit. Brafford then will weld the chain together with a small loop. Bracelets, necklaces and rings are available, but bracelets tend to be the most popular. Patrons can choose among a few different options of 14-carat white and yellow gold jewelry at different price points, depending on the style. Rings are priced at $55; bracelets are $75-$135; necklaces (which are offered in 16”-20” lengths) $175-$325. There is also an option for an anklet in the large link style for $175.
Brafford says most people tend to get two bracelets, and the most popular combination she does is a large link ($135) and twist ($95) bracelets in yellow gold.
“Since they are all custom fit, it’s perfect for someone with very small wrists where bracelets won’t stay on or just someone who doesn’t want to deal with a clasp,” Brafford says.
Once the jewelry is welded, it is permanent and should last through anything from showers to pool water to spray tans. Brafford says, “I’ve had mine for a year and I’ve put them through anything you can possibly put them through, and they still look brand new.”
There are times when a person may have to take the jewelry off, but Brafford says they can take a pair of scissors and cut the small welded connection. She offers one free reattachment; any future reattachment would cost $20.
This trend has taken off in recent years and has gained steam on TikTok, and Brafford has a theory as to why. She says it has become very popular to leave jewelry on all the time, “but with fast fashion, a lot of those pieces are tarnishing very quickly.” Brafford adds that quite often, even expensive jewelry is not high quality and could possibly cause irritation to those with sensitive skin.
She also theorizes that the lack of a clasp may be a draw to this craze.
“For women with an active lifestyle – someone who is constantly on the go – they’re not going to want to deal with a clasp,” Brafford says. “So I think that claspless jewelry is something that works really well for the modern-day woman.”
LINK x LOU pop-ups are posted three days ahead of a planned event. Once the event link is live, customers can sign up for a 15- to 20-minute slot to get their jewelry. Be fast, Brafford says — these pop-ups tend to fill up quickly. Brafford says slots have been getting fully booked out within 15 minutes of the link going live.
Those who don’t want to sit around refreshing your Instagram feed or Brafford’s website for information about the next pop-up can also schedule a private party for five friends. Brafford comes for free; customers only pay for the jewelry.
Brafford says that a lot of bookings for private parties are wedding-related, but she’s also led parties as relaxed as a wine and charcuterie girls night.
Since launching LINK x LOU in Cincinnati, Brafford says that the market’s response and potential have exceeded her expectations.
“It has been absolutely more than I ever could have imagined. When I first started I thought ‘is this just something I really love, and I’m into?’ but I really thought it would stick and it has,” Brafford says.
To register for a LINK x LOU Cincinnati pop-up or to schedule a private party, visit instagram.com/linkxlou.cincinnati.