Breastfeeding—so magical, so nurturing. And also? So freakin’ hard. After you’ve mastered dream feeds, flange sizes and nursing in public, you basically deserve a damn medal. Well, we can’t help you there, but there is another way to commemorate your experience that might do the trick. We tapped jewelry maker Melanie Fogarty from Beyond the Willow Tree about the increasingly popular trend of turning breast milk into jewelry.
How is breast milk jewelry made? It begins with around an ounce of breast milk, which is then placed through a process of extreme heating and cooling while using a chemical to keep it preserved. This changes the structure of the milk to create a solidified clump that can then be worked into a stone for necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings.
Um, does it smell? If the preservation process has been done properly, no. But done incorrectly, it risks bacterial growth, discoloration and rotting. So yeah, don’t try to DIY this one.
What does the jewelry look like? Honestly, it looks very similar to an opal—the iridescent creamy-white stone favored by October babies. The exact color of the stone will depend on the breast milk (some might be a little more yellow than others) and some jewelers will add a layer of shimmer on top of the stone to really make it shine.
Why do women choose to get breast milk jewelry? “Some women have breast milk jewelry created to celebrate a time in their life where they felt the most powerful or to reflect on a moment which bonded them to their babies on a physically nurturing level,” Fogarty tells us. Other women want to celebrate their hard work after so much struggle and perseverance. “And then there are those who have sadly lost a baby and the only thing they have physically left is the milk they have produced for them, so they hold onto this for a multitude of emotional reasons,” Fogarty adds.
I’m interested. Where can I get something made? Australia-based Beyond the Willow Tree ships worldwide, but for something closer to home, check out Lait de la Vie or Indigo Willow. Just know that the process can take a couple of months and that prices start around $100. (But hey, aren’t your sore nipples worth at least that?)