Breast milk jewelry might be something you’ve never heard of before, but it’s quickly gaining in popularity. Upon hearing the phrase, your mind may conjure up images of bejeweled breast milk bottles, bedazzled nipples, or blinged-out breast pumps. But no, breast milk jewelry is actually jewelry that's made from breast milk. Ah ha! That makes a little more sense, right? Or does it? Now you’re trying to figure out how one makes jewelry from breast milk, and for what purpose.
Some people love this idea, while others are a little squeamish about it. It might make you feel the same way as when you hear about people wearing vials of their significant other’s blood, or is it less creepy because it came from your body and represents an intimate connection between a mother and her child?
This trend is really more for those that appreciate jewelry for sentimental reasons over jewelry that’s worn to display your social status or wealth, although one could argue that with breast milk also being referred to as liquid gold, these pieces are just as precious as those marked with a 24k stamp.
So what exactly is breast milk jewelry, how is it made, and who is wearing it and why? Read on for all of the milky details!
What is Breast Milk Jewelry?
Breast milk jewelry is a type of keepsake jewelry that’s made from breast milk that has been preserved and then incorporated into the design of a piece of jewelry, such as a ring, bracelet, earrings, or pendant.
A glance at Etsy shows page after page of different jewelry designs. Some of the designs are more elaborate, incorporating the breast milk “stones” with more traditional stones like diamonds or birthstones and set in gold, rose gold, or white gold bands to create modern, expensive-looking pieces, and with a price tag to match.
Other designs are more whimsical or simple, letting the focus stay on the breast milk jewel, instead of attempting to disguise or dress it up. There are plenty of simple oval or teardrop settings with lesser price tags.
While the most common item seems to be the ring, it doesn’t stop with jewelry. You can find makers of breast milk key chains, and even customized wood picture frames that hold a piece of solidified breast milk in the shape of a heart or milk drop in the corner.
If you have a unique design that you would like to attempt yourself, you can even order a breast milk preservation kit which includes everything you need to turn your breast milk into powder to be used with resin and then molded into whatever it is that you want, whether it be jewelry or some other token.
Breast milk jewelry is most commonly created as a way for mothers to commemorate their breastfeeding journey and the special bond they share with their children. It can also serve as a unique and personal gift for a new mother. It could be a push present, or if we’re not trying to limit ourselves, in addition to a push present. Something that marks yet another way that moms give their bodies over to their little ones. We just need a phrase to coin it- breastfeeding bling, milky memory, or skim sercy perhaps?
Many new moms find the experience of breastfeeding to be different than what they expect. They fully intend to exclusively breastfeed their babies, but for various reasons, it doesn’t always go as planned. With the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending that women breastfeed their children for at least two years, and exclusively for the first six months, a lot of mamas are feeling the pressure to continue to breastfeed long past what they’re able or want to do. For the mamas that make it to their breastfeeding goals, rewarding themselves with a piece of breast milk jewelry is a way to commemorate all of that hard work and effort.
Another reason some women choose to commemorate the breastfeeding journey with jewelry is that it was a joyful time in their life that they hold dear. Wearing breast milk jewelry keeps the memory of that period of their life close by and is a great visual reminder. It also gives them the chance to talk about it with people that may comment on the jewelry. Being able to revisit that happy time in their lives and sharing the joys of breastfeeding can bring them a lot of satisfaction.
Some mamas endure incredible heartbreak with the loss of a child. Creating a piece of breast milk jewelry is a way to honor the memory of the child they’ve lost. It can be a way to cope with the devastating loss and keep the precious memory of a child who has passed away close to them at all times. Since breast milk jewelry doesn’t require a large sample, it’s possible for women who lost a child before having the opportunity to nurse them to still express enough breast milk to create a “stone”.
How is Breast Milk Jewelry Made?
As we know, breast milk is a precious substance, and it’s also delicate. Preserving it for use in breast milk jewelry requires careful attention to detail. There are several methods for preserving breast milk, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
The first step in the process is collection. If you’re ordering a piece of jewelry through one of the many breast milk jewelry vendors, they will send you detailed shipping instructions. You’ll either send a small amount of breast milk through the mail (perfectly legal) in a breast milk bag or some other similar container that they might provide for you. If you’re sending it in a breast milk bag, you want to double or even triple-bag it. You want to pay close attention to the labeling instructions to ensure the correct sample gets returned to you. If you’re worried about supply, don’t be too concerned- the process typically only requires a minimal amount, about an ounce or so.
Once the breast milk is collected and shipped to the jewelry maker, the process of preserving the breast milk begins. One common method for preserving breast milk is freeze-drying. This process involves freezing the breast milk and then removing the moisture through a process called sublimation. The freeze-dried breast milk is then ground into a fine powder and mixed with a special resin that is used to create jewelry. Freeze-drying preserves breast milk without the need for heat, which can damage the milk’s proteins and enzymes, potentially causing discoloration.
Another method for preserving breast milk is pasteurization. This involves heating the breast milk to a high temperature for a short period of time to kill any bacteria and preserve the milk. The pasteurized breast milk is then mixed with a resin used to create jewelry. While pasteurization is an effective method for preserving breast milk, beware that it can alter the milk’s color and texture.
Some jewelry makers use resin preservation to preserve breast milk. This method involves mixing the breast milk with a resin that hardens and preserves the milk. Resin preservation is a relatively simple and cost-effective method, but it can be more prone to discoloration and other issues over time.
After the breast milk is preserved, the mixture is then poured into a mold and left to dry and harden, resulting in a piece of jewelry that contains the preserved breast milk.
The result is an opal-looking piece of jewelry, albeit a little flatter than an opal. If you want more of an opal effect, you can customize your jewelry to mimic an opal, or a pearl. If you’re going the DIY route, you can choose a resin with a pearly mix or even a sparkle mix.
There are many people out there making breast milk jewelry, so how do you know who to choose, is it important to make a careful selection, or are they all the same? A certain design might catch your eye while you’re looking at the many options out there. You might be inclined to use somebody based solely on that design, but you should be making sure that they’re a reputable breast milk jewelry maker.
Part of the process, when the jewelry makers get the collected breast milk, is to carefully label everything. With some of the busier places, this is especially important. This is a critical step done to make sure the breast milk jewelry is made with the correct breast milk and sent back to its rightful owner. While it hopefully hasn’t happened to many, it’s easy to see how a busy production could get disorganized if they’re not careful and some mamas could be walking around wearing a ring made out of a stranger’s breast milk.
There are also stories of distraught women sending off their breast milk and paying money for the jewelry they never receive. To the women this has happened to, it feels more violating than a simple scam. Since it was a piece of them that they sent off, it makes it really personal.
Another risk to think about when choosing who to use to make your special piece of jewelry is that over time it can turn yellow under certain circumstances if it hasn’t been preserved properly. We certainly all know how important it is to properly store breast milk when it will be given to your little one. Proper storage is also important to prevent contamination and ensure that the breast milk maintains its integrity for use in breast milk jewelry.
How Long Does Breast Milk Jewelry Last?
When breast milk jewelry is made properly, you should expect it to last a lifetime, and if it’s well cared for, it should remain in good condition indefinitely.
If breast milk jewelry isn’t made using the proper technique, it’s at risk of disintegrating, getting moldy, or changing color over time.
Many mamas procure a piece of breast milk jewelry at the end of their breastfeeding journey. So because this is a substance that they may not be able to produce again, it’s important to know how to maintain this little gem so that it will last a lifetime.
If there is an error in milk preservation, discoloration of a breast milk jewelry piece will likely occur within the first three months. With this in mind, perhaps it’s a good idea to order a piece of jewelry in anticipation of ending your breastfeeding journey, but while you still have the milk supply, and will be able to reorder a piece if things go awry.
If you’ve already stopped breastfeeding and think it’s too late, if you’ve got some leftover frozen breast milk, you’re in luck. It’s perfectly fine to use breast milk that was frozen to make a piece of jewelry, you’ll likely just need to thaw it before shipping. It’s fine too if it’s been in the freezer for a long time. While you wouldn’t want to give your kiddo breast milk that’s been in the freezer for over 12 months, it’s fine to use it to make jewelry.
How long does breast milk jewelry last? Maintaining breast milk jewelry requires some special care to keep it looking beautiful and to prevent damage. You should receive detailed instructions for proper care when you order a piece of breast milk jewelry, and you should follow those to a T. If you haven’t ordered jewelry and are wondering what to expect if you do, here are some tips for what it takes to maintain breast milk jewelry:
Keep it clean: clean your breast milk jewelry regularly to keep it looking its best. Use a soft cloth and gentle soap to gently wipe away any dirt or residue. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals that can damage the jewelry.
Store it properly: store your breast milk jewelry in a cool, dry place, such as a jewelry box or airtight ziploc bag, away from direct sunlight and heat. This will help prevent discoloration and damage.
Avoid exposure to water: water can damage breast milk jewelry, so avoid wearing it while swimming, bathing, showering, or participating in any water-related activities. Moisture can also cause mold to grow on the jewelry, so it’s important to keep it dry.
Handle with care: breast milk jewelry is delicate and should be handled with care. Avoid pulling or tugging on the jewelry, and remove it before engaging in any heavy physical activities or chores.
Avoid applying topical products: Avoid applying lotions, creams, powders, essential oils, or any other topical products on the jewelry. These products can cause discoloration and damage to the jewelry.
By following these tips, or those that come with your piece of jewelry, you can keep your breast milk jewelry looking beautiful for years to come.
Other Ways to Celebrate the Breastfeeding Journey
Some makers of breast milk jewelry also create personalized pieces from hair, placenta, or umbilical cords. So if breast milk “stones” aren’t what you’re into, but you still want a piece of jewelry made from your organic matter with sentimental value, just search for it and you’ll surely find somebody who makes it.
If you’re searching for ways to honor the breastfeeding journey that doesn’t involve organic matter, there are plenty of other ways. One such way is to schedule a breastfeeding photo shoot. This is especially great if you missed out on having a pregnancy photo shoot. This will give you an opportunity to create intimate photos of this unique time in your life that you can cherish forever.
Or if you’re no stranger to photo shoots, you can create an album dedicated to your baby that includes a pregnancy photo shoot, a birth photo shoot, and a breastfeeding photo shoot- the holy trinity for embarrassing your child when they start bringing home dates.
Another way to recognize your breastfeeding journey is by getting a commemorative tattoo. Many parents get tattoos in honor of their kids by getting their names, birth dates, zodiac signs or something similar inked on them. If it’s specifically breastfeeding that you want to honor, you can find examples by searching “breastfeeding tattoos” and looking over how other people have represented the breastfeeding journey through tattoos. Just remember, getting a tattoo dedicated to your breastfeeding journey is probably best to do once you’re done breastfeeding, and not while you’re still doing it.
Another great way to keep your breastfeeding journey close would be to use our breast milk cooler, which very handily doubles as a water bottle for you long after you’ve ended your breast milk journey. Whenever you use it you’ll be reminded of the sweet bond you and your baby had. As your kiddo ages, it could even be passed on to them as well. You could share with them how it started off as a way to safely store the breast milk you pumped just for them, and now it’s taken on a new purpose (a great lesson in re-purposing too).
Thrive Throughout Your Breastfeeding Journey with Mila’s Keeper!
Wearing breast milk jewelry is a great way to honor your breastfeeding journey. Whether it was pure joy or a struggle from the start, having a tangible way to cherish that experience will bring you lifelong happiness.
If you are considering an investment in breast milk jewelry, just remember that not all pieces are made alike. Be sure to do a little research to find a reputable maker and a style that you’ll enjoy. While breast milk jewelry will last a lifetime if properly made and cared for, it can be a crushing experience to have something so personal not turn out or last as expected.
Here at Mila’s Keeper, we’re always rooting for you to have the best breastfeeding experience you’re capable of. We know the sacrifice it takes for all you busy mamas to keep going, so we encourage you to encase your liquid gold into some 24-karat gold and proudly show the world what you’re capable of!
Keep Reading related blog: Step by Step Guide on How to Donate and Receive Breast Milk
A female-designed and female-run company, Mila's Keeper is on a mission to empower women to thrive during their breastfeeding journey by offering reusable, eco-friendly breast milk storage solutions for their day-to-day needs. Get the latest tips and info on Mila's Keeper products by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.