There has been a surge in the popularity of breast milk jewellery in South Africa in the last few years – it’s a way to memorialise your breastfeeding journey, and you get a pretty pair of earrings (or a pendant, ring, paper weight, bowl or keyring – there are so many options available) at the same time. Win-win, right?!
We had a lot of questions about breast milk keepsake jewellery – and you probably do too – so we asked Melissa Mann, who makes keepsake jewellery at Spiral Tree Studio, to answer them.
What is breast milk jewellery?
“Breast milk jewellery started off as a worldwide trend in 2014”, explains Melissa. “And I think it’s a lovely way to commemorate such a special time with our babies. There are some talented makers of beautiful breast milk jewellery in South Africa, and I love that we each have our own aesthetic that appeals to different people.”
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This type of keepsake jewellery (sometimes also called memorial jewellery) is created to show off an accent stone that’s made from a mother’s breast milk. If you didn’t tell anyone what the stone was made of, they’d probably assume it was an opal, because they look quite similar. And in case you’re wondering, other ‘ingredients’ commonly used in keepsake jewellery are a person’s cremated ashes or hair.
How is breast milk jewellery made?
There are some DIY kits available on the Internet (try Etsy) but if you don’t already know how to make jewellery, it might be better to outsource this to a professional. There are a lot of different methods and each seller has their own way of making the jewellery but, usually, you’ll send in a sample of your breast milk and it will be processed, which might involve dehydrating or freeze drying the milk, adding chemicals to stop bacteria from growing or mixing the milk with resin to create a ‘stone’. Once you have these resin-like stones, they’re encased in whatever jewellery setting you’ve chosen, like a ring, earrings or pendant.
How do you send the milk to the jeweller?
Melissa explains, “For each breast milk or memorial piece I require 10ml of fresh or frozen breast milk per piece. The milk should be placed in 2 Ziplock bags with the air removed. The bags then need to be put inside a small container or Tupperware and be sent to my studio in KwaZulu-Natal either via Postnet or courier.”
Is breast milk jewellery safe & will it last?
“Resin jewellery is sturdy and requires very little care. However, I do have a few tips for best results. Remove your jewellery when applying creams, perfume, hairspray or other beauty products, showering or swimming, washing hands (if wearing a ring) and/or cleaning with harsh chemicals/sanitizers. If your baby tugs on your current necklaces, I recommend getting a ring or bead for a bracelet to prevent damaging your jewellery. It’s not to be used as a teething necklace, though the resin will not harm them,” says Melissa.
How much does breast milk jewellery cost?
At Spiral Tree, pendants start at R850 using sterling silver and prices go up to around R3650 for 9 carat gold pieces. Return courier is free for purchases and they offer a discount if 3 or more pieces are ordered. Melissa uses an imported, UV-stable, eco-friendly, high grade jeweler’s resin and locally-sourced precious metals.
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Where can I buy breast milk jewellery in South Africa?
Melissa started Spiral Tree Keepsake Jewellery in 2014 and she also makes keepsakes using botanicals, cremated ashes and hair. You can find out more about her services by clicking HERE.