By Andy Jensen
The key to a successful permanent jewelry business is actually attaching the bracelet or anklet around your customers' wrists or ankles quickly, permanently, and safely. If you can't complete the process in minutes, if your process doesn't create a strong bond, or if your customer walks away with a burn, your permanent jewelry business will most likely fail.
Let's take a closer look at quickly, permanently, and safely. What's the secret to achieving all three?
Let's quickly jump to the main point: Welding is the easiest way to quickly close a chain. The actual process of welding the link closed takes a few milliseconds using a pulse arc welder, which people in the business call a permanent jewelry welder.
A pulse arc welder is a micro welder. The welder delivers a tiny spot weld in a very specific spot. How small is the spot weld? For fine chains the spot size will be a fraction of a millimeter in diameter. Due to the tiny spot size and milliseconds of time needed to complete the weld, the amount of generated heat is hardly noticeable and dissipates quickly.
The learning curve is not has steep as you would expect. With some online coaching (you'll find a great selection of how to videos on YouTube) and practice time with stainless steel chain, you'll become an accomplished novice. If you're serious about the permanent jewelry business, you'll want to better understand what your permanent jewelry welder can really accomplish, and how. MicroWeld22 is a welding conference for bench jewelers and will help you bridge the gap from novice to professional.
You and your customer want the bracelet or anklet to be closed permanently. A link that fails is bad for business. Repairs eat into your profits and less favorable customer reviews tarnish your reputation.
A permanent jewelry welder does what every other type of welder does: It melds two pieces of metal into one piece of metal. When done correctly, the two ends of an open link are restored to an original state of being a solid link. How does that happen? The permanent jewelry welder melts both ends of the open link. The molten metal pools together, cools, and results in a bond just as strong as any other point on the link—all of this happening in milliseconds.
Of course, a skilled bench jeweler can rightfully claim they can close a jump ring or chain just as quickly and permanently with solder. I'm sure they can and I mean no disrespect. Soldering is an art form and I tip my hat to them. Perhaps soldering loses its appeal when it comes to safety. Let's take a look...
Soldering requires an open flame or hot iron. Both of those options are scary to a customer, regardless of how skilled you may be. A permanent jewelry welder is not so scary and represents significant less risk to your customer.
Are there any risks to the customer with a permanent jewelry welder? Yes; there are three.
Heat. I mentioned earlier that the heat required to melt the metal is relatively low and quickly dissipates. Nonetheless, you're melting stuff, and that can be hot. If that weld spot happens to touch your customer immediately after the weld, it may leave a tiny burn. The risk, albeit small, is there and you should place a swatch of leather between the chain and your customer's skin to prevent a burn from ever happening. That said, I have viewed hundreds of permanent jewelry social media posts and rarely see steps taken to protect the customer from a burn. If it were my business, I would use the leather patch.
Jab. A permanent jewelry welder utilizes a sharp tungsten electrode to direct the electric charge to a tiny spot. If you're not careful, you could jab your customer with the electrode. The risk is small; I've never heard of a customer being jabbed. Again, a leather swatch can help prevent an unwanted jab.
UV Light. You should never look directly at any weld. Why? Because the weld energy emits ultraviolet light that can damage your eyes when repeatedly exposed. Therefore, neither you nor your customer should be looking directly at the weld without eye protection. Your customer can protect themselves by watching the event with their smartphone (you want them recording the process and sharing with their friends anyway). Or they can wear protective glasses. You should be utilizing an automatic darkening lens (see image) or safety glasses. Watching one or two welds without protection is not a big deal. Sustained exposure to the UV light is a big deal.
Two companies manufacture permanent jewelry welders, or pulse arc welders. I imagine you can find other solutions on Amazon or Alibaba, but I doubt the quality matches up. Of the two, Sunstone is the only one that offers a range of models to suit your needs and your budget. Your permanent jewelry business doesn't require a sophisticated, feature-rich welder. Sunstone's entry level welder, the Orion mPulse, will successfully close every chain you place. I should play it safe and say the Orion mPulse permanent jewelry welder will close almost all of the chains you place.
You can complete an order online for an Orion mPulse in a matter of minutes and have it shipped right to your door. The welder starts at USD $2,400, which represents an easy ROI. How many chains do you have to sell to recoup your investment? Do some back-of-the-envelope math and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Sunstone also provides a Permanent Jewelry Kit that includes wire cutters, pliers, safety glasses, permanent jewelry business decal for your window, and leather swatch. The kit represents a way to get started sooner.
If you still have questions you can call or text +1 801-658-0015 and one of Sunstone's micro welding consultants can help. Here are some additional articles that may help:
Everything You Need to Start Your Permanent Jewelry Business
The Bestselling Pulse Arc Welders
5 Reasons Why You Should Buy an Orion Pulse Arc Welder
Micro TIG Welding: What Is It and How You Can Use It
Pulse Arc Welding vs Laser Welding: Which is Better?