I would never get a tattoo, but on our recent trip to Paris, I couldn’t wait to get the jewelry equivalent — a permanent, delicate gold bracelet welded onto my wrist! A couple of years ago, a blogger I follow shared that on her trip to Paris that she and her friend got these permanent gold friendship bracelets at Le Bon Marché (a department store I have before visited and loved). That was all the info she shared, however, and I had to know more, so I went on a tear trying to track down more info. I came across a few articles (in French) that led me to information about a pop-up at Le Bon Marché of this Italian brand, Atelier VM. In my search, I learned that a few jewelry brands are starting to offer some form of permanent jewelry, mostly bracelets, including Catbird in NYC. I bookmarked Atelier VM, knowing that a trip to Paris (or Milan…) would be the ticket for all of my golden bracelet dreams to come true. So with my friend, Lisa, on our first full day in Paris this September, we headed to the 7th arrondissement on our quest.
The bracelet is called L’Essenziale (“the essential”) and it comes in 18 kt yellow, white or rose gold, with many options to add a charm. You can select from three chain weights. I selected the thinnest, most delicate chain (like a spider web) for a bracelet on my right wrist. Since I am right-handed, I didn’t want any interference with writing, especially for calligraphy practice, and I can say with absolute certainty that I don’t even notice that it’s on. You can also add a charm — semi-precious floating stones, tags inlaid with a diamond, and gold charms. I selected a golden heart, which is a daily reminder of my favorite city.
While chatting with our lovely jeweler, she let us know that Atelier VM is no longer just a pop-up but a permanent fixture at Le Bon Marché with another permanent location at Liberty London. For holiday 2019, she said that Atelier VM will do a pop-up in New York, with location TBD. She herself had several sizes and bracelet styles on, as well as some pretty chain rings of the same material. She said that getting bracelets, like tattoos, is addictive and that once you get your first, you tend to want another. The brand is in testing for permanent anklets, which she also was wearing, as well as a L’Essenziale necklace!
Once you are fitted for your bracelet, you place your hand in a welding machine while the jeweler situates the chain around your wrist, as she looks on through a super-magnified lens to align the chain ends. The bracelet is then welded with a laser, controlled by a presser-foot style lever with her foot. In a few seconds, you are united with your new jewelry! At first, my bracelet was a bit loose, so much so that I was afraid it could easily catch on something and rip off, so we made a quick adjustment before we left. I love that it’s delicate enough to layer with other bracelets, and of course, that I never have to take it off. Because it is solid gold, you don’t have to worry about metal detectors, and it won’t tarnish, or cause skin sensitivities. Now I am plotting my second bracelet…