Whether fine or fashion, gold or gold plated, precious or found materials—jewelry is art, and perhaps more important than that, it’s often a sentimental token that could mean the world to someone who wears it.
We wear jewelry for all sorts of reasons: love, devotion, commemoration, mourning. We map our journeys, both personal and professional, in jewelry.
One of those journeys for many moms is that of breastfeeding. And—in case you didn’t see where I was going with this—there’s jewelry for that.
Of course, you could go the symbolic route—I recall Gem Gossip’s Danielle Miele commissioning a gorgeous Heather B Moore pendant to commemorate her own journey (an idea—and a pendant—I’ve been coveting ever since).
For the mother currently lactating, some home-brewed breast milk could be turned into a forever keepsake just as well.
I nursed my firstborn for 28 months, and it was the most incredible time of my life—one that was difficult to let go. Now, fortunate to have another opportunity with a new babe, I don’t underestimate how some women would feel compelled to forever memorialize the experience. But I must admit I was a bit puzzled when I saw breast milk jewelry making the rounds online. How does that even work? Is that sanitary? Will it last forever?
So I contacted Anna Thachuk of KeepsakeMom, a company based in British Columbia that specializes in the production of breast milk jewelry.
“Making quality breast milk jewelry is a craft that requires skill, tooling, the right curing method, and a keen understanding of—and experience with—acrylic resin jewelry-making,” Anna tells me of the process. “We first cure the breast milk and turn it into a fine, dry powder. To turn the breast milk into a stone, we blend the powdered milk with clear acrylic resin, which we then cast in a silicone mold. It’s at this blending stage that we add inclusions to the piece, like color, shimmer, gold or silver flakes, a lock of baby’s hair, script, or even the baby’s hand or footprints.”
Before moving into this relatively unique kind of jewelry, Anna, who is from Ukraine, went to medical school and became a diagnostic medical sonographer.
“Growing up, I was always interested in beads and sparkly things and remember spending hours playing with my mother’s costume jewelry. This fascination with all things sparkly never left me, and I went from playing with jewelry as a child to making jewelry for myself to wear as an adult. Seven years ago, when I was breastfeeding our second child, I was introduced to breast milk jewelry. A lady was adding breast milk to acrylic resin, creating breast milk stones, and she had been doing this for over 10 years. I was fascinated by this. I started playing with my milk, reducing it, trying different techniques to neutralize it, and mixing and casting the dried milk with acrylic resin to create breast milk stones. I was hooked.”
As I imagine may have been true of her previous life as a sonographer, Anna has the opportunity of sharing some of the moments—both joyous and heartbreaking—from motherhood with clients. “We hear many stories about people’s breastfeeding journeys, from those who were successful, from others who struggled, and from those whose children were with them for only a short amount of time. It’s been a privilege to hear these stories, and we look forward to working with more parents and hearing their stories and the impact breast milk jewelry has made in their lives.”
The jewelry is actually quite beautiful, and if you didn’t know what it was made of, you might not think it anything unusual. “As with any piece of fine jewelry, it is important to treat breast milk jewelry with care,” Anna says, when asked about the fragility of the finished pieces. “We encourage customers to store their jewelry in the soft bag that we provide, to keep the bag in a dark, cool place, and to avoid excessively humid environments. We also recommend removing your breast milk jewelry before bathing or showering, before washing hands or applying hand sanitizer, and before going swimming. But with all that being said, we don’t want these precautions to stop customers from wearing—and enjoying—their breast milk jewelry piece.”
Milky Brilliance ring in rose gold–plated sterling silver with CZ, $165
KeepsakeMom isn’t the first and only company to make breast milk jewelry, and it probably won’t be the last. And the more I think about it, the more I hope we do see more like this—if only to bring breastfeeding out from the shadows. “I believe in and support breastfeeding and the bond it creates between mother and child and the role that it plays within the entire family. Nursing should be celebrated and encouraged, and we’ve made big progress,” agrees Anna, when I mention the strides that have been made in removing the stigma around public nursing or even the honest conversations about its challenges. “Breast milk jewelry symbolizes the uniqueness of the breastfeeding experience with your child through each one-of-a-kind stone. It is a lovely and deeply meaningful way to commemorate this time in your life.”
Ya know what? I’m into it.
Top: Breast milk jewelry suite in rose gold–plated sterling silver (all images courtesy of KeepsakeMom)
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