Deep Dive: the story behind kandi


Beck Iannucci

Kandi bracelets aren’t just fun to make — they can be incredibly meaningful. One creator made a powerful statement by creating 49 bracelets, one for every Pulse victim. The shooting, that took place back in 2016, was a targeted attack against lgbtq+ people.

Every time I see this picture it sends chills down my spine. It is in this way that kandi has been used to spread a message. That kandi is used to take a stand against violence and oppression.

But how did this rave jewelry come to be and how does it continue to make an impact?

Kandi started to become popular in the 90s. This type of jewelry is often credited to have been inspired by other groups. One example is the thread friendship bracelets of the 60s, as both bracelets share the same sentiment. That sentiment being, whatever you are gifted during a trade is never supposed to be re-gifted/traded again. That piece is regarded as your memory with that person. If it’s a stranger, you may never meet again so the kandi is the one thing you have of them. This idea is incredibly sweet and is actually the thing I love the most about kandi.

My best friend gifted me some perler bead creations (those are melty beads, often featured in many kandi creations) and I made them into kandi.

These kandis really do hold memories. I aim to create kandi in the same way when making them for my friends. I want to create something that makes them smile. I believe that this is something that draws others to kandi making.

Kandi comes with a lot of freedom as you can make personalized pieces that stand for your beliefs. If you’re in an environment where you can’t express your opinions, you can share them with others through kandi. They convey a message of standing tall and unified while dealing with the ugliness of the world. Yes, they’re fun to make, but they also provide comfort and take a stand against injustice.

This is further enforced by the phrase that kandi has become associated with; PLUR, standing for peace, love, unity, and respect, is the values that kandi supports, creating a welcoming community.

Though these bracelets have ties to drugs in their origin, they have become so much more. During early EDM shows, some drug dealers wore colorful bracelets to stand out in the crowd. Now, however, these colorful pieces are enjoyed by many and have taken on a new meaning.

I enjoyed taking a deeper look into the accessories I’ve come to love. If you have also, you can start making your own!

Here is my collection so far and I’m excited to keep learning and creating!