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Why Breastmilk Jewellery?
Breast Milk Jewellery can be a contentious subject, some people will love it, others will absolutely not. It’s a sort of ‘Marmite’ concept. So what is it? Basically, in a nutshell, it takes a very small amount of Breast Milk which is processed by hand, heated, combined with food safe preservatives and dried, before being ground into a fine powder. It is then mixed with Jeweller’s Resin to either put into jewellery made for the purpose, or to make Resin ‘Breast Milk’ Stones which can be placed into a piece of jewellery like any other stone.
It makes a ‘memory’ or ‘memorial’ piece, something to preserve your breast feeding experience and keep for posterity. Something you can wear subtly to remind you of your child / children without anyone really knowing, unless you choose to share what it actually is.
Why have I decided to make Breast Milk Jewellery? When I started making jewellery I knew nothing. I learnt along the way, by reading, watching, and experimenting. I started making memorial jewellery after a dear dog of mine died and learnt how to incorporate cremation ashes into jewellery which has ‘grown’ to become one of my mainstays. I had an enquiry about a breast milk ring from a potential customer and I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about . So, I read, watched, researched and discovered lots about what it is, but still didn’t really know how to go about it. There are courses you can do with a number of people round the world, but they mainly consist of showing ‘their’ process, ‘their’ method and of course ‘their Special Preservative Powders’ which you can buy in a little bag every time you need to make a piece of jewellery, but of course they won’t ever disclose what it is, a very lucrative idea I’m sure, but not wholly necessary I thought. So I did my own research, spoke to some food preservation specialists, purchased a variety of ‘food safe’ preservatives and experimented with my new found knowledge.
I was very lucky. The customer, who was interested in breast milk jewellery was also very interested in helping me develop the ability to produce quality, long lasting pieces that would rival any existing availability. To that end she very kindly became my ‘milkmaid’ and provided me with the raw materials repeatedly until I had a freezer full of breast milk. It took a while before I had the formula that worked and I was able to follow the same process repeatedly to provide the powdered raw material to begin making jewellery.
I made three or four initial pieces and sent them to my ‘milkmaid’ to wear and report on the longevity, wear, colour, etc. I must be clear that ‘any’ and ‘all’ resin will eventually begin to yellow. This process will speed up in direct sunlight and if not looked after and cared for. It is therefore recommended not to wear such jewellery soaking in a hot bath, sunbathing and swimming in the sea or swimming pool, or in a hot tub where other chemicals are present. Care should also be taken with all resin jewellery in the presence of solvents found in perfumes colognes and hair products. Where some resin jewellery may not immediately show any effects, milk is essentially white, so lack of care will show the ageing process sooner. My resin supplier was very helpful and supplied me with a specialist UV resistant hardener which slows this process dramatically, but as I said ‘All resin will begin to yellow eventually’. That being said, I have pieces of resin jewellery I have had for over 5 years which have absolutely no signs of any discolouration at all, so with the right care and attention it doesn’t have to be a problem.
Please note: This is not a quick process. Lead time will be at least 4 weeks (although it may be possible at times to shorten this timescale). It takes time to process the milk into a usable product which if rushed can result in poor quality. It takes for example at least 4 days just to ‘air dry’ in the first stage and the finishing process is very much longer than for traditional jewellery. Better to get it right and perfect first time than to rush or cut corners and end up with an inferior result I’m sure you’ll agree. This is an important personal momento and I intend to make one that is long lasting and that you can be proud to wear.