Roommates Lauren Dunn and Kylie Beck are “linked” forever.
After living together for two years now, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln seniors wanted friendship bracelets that were a bit more permanent.
The two both got matching bracelets sold by the company Link x Lou. As part of the permanent jewelry process, a gold chain is measured to the size of a customer’s wrist and then welded together. The jewelry — bracelets, necklaces, rings and anklets — can be cut off with with scissors.
The permanence of the jewelry is what appealed to Dunn.
“I’m not someone who wants tattoos, but I did want something that’s permanently on my body,” she said. “So I look at it the same way as a tattoo, where it’s not going to come off, but it’s still something that’s currently on me and I can take it off if I really want to.”
Link x Lou’s Paxton Brittingham is the only “linker” in the Nebraska. And her business is the fastest growing Link x Lou location of the company’s 25 locations nationwide. Brittingham said she thinks the pandemic contributed to the popularity.
“I think part of it is people have been so desperate for an in-person experience, like something fun they could do,” she said.
Brittingham, who graduated from the UNL in December, works full-time as an independent contractor. Link x Lou made its way to Lincoln in November after launching in April 2020 in Kansas City.
People also have connected with the brand because of the experience., Brittingham said. Many people get linked with a significant other or a close friend, essentially making it a “forever friendship bracelet,” she said.
“It’s a unique experience that you remember the moment when you got linked, so I think that’s one of the reasons why it has blown up so much,” she said.
Not to mention, permanent jewelry is trendy, she noted.
“I know many people saw this in New York, Chicago or Dallas” she said. “So I think that’s one of the reasons why Lincoln has blown up so much.”
The jewelry is not sold in a permanent store but is shown at pop up shops and linking parties. Customers can sign up online for an appointment on the Lincoln/Omaha Link x Lou Instagram, which has over 3,000 followers. The business also offers private parties.
Brittingham generally does four pop-ups a week at different local businesses in Omaha and Lincoln. Each lasts approximately four hours, and appointments go every 15 minutes.
Customers first pick out their chain, which is made out of solid 14k white or yellow gold in various thicknesses. Then, Brittingham measures the chain to fit the customer’s wrist and welds it together. Think of it as a custom-fitted, solid gold bracelet that is claspless.
The process is entirely painless; it is not welded to skin in any way. The cost ranges from $75 to around $200 depending on the chain and whether or not the customer chooses to add a charm.
The two roommates, Beck and Dunn, got “linked” in November, when the Lincoln Link x Lou was just taking off.
Beck sports two gold chain bracelets that match Dunn wherever she goes.
“I like that I get to have this jewelry on possibly forever,” Beck said. “And you don’t have to worry about buying more bracelets because you already have the part covered.” \
She said she first found out about permanent jewelry on TikTok and then saw Link x Lou pop up on her Instagram feed days later.
“I saw that people were getting permanent jewelry,” Beck said. “And I was intrigued by that, ‘Like how on earth is it permanent?'”
So, when Link x Lou came to Lincoln, she thought she might as well give it a try, she said.
Similarly, Dunn said she is glad to have shared the experience with her close friend.
“I really liked how they’re super small and dainty, because it’s something where it isn’t obvious, but I know that we are matching for our friendship,” Dunn said. “It meant a lot to me to get them, especially with graduating soon and not probably being in the same state.”