This list is ideal for anyone in the UK and Europe looking to purchase keepsake jewellery supplies to make breastmilk and memorial jewellery. Ordered by category it’s almost a one-stop-shop (apart from settings) of the things you’ll need to succeed making keepsakes for your growing clientele. Prices are correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.
PPE – Personal Protective Equipment
Probably the most important on the list because most of us are making keepsake jewellery to support our families. A little bit of resin dust now and again might not seem like that much of a bad thing but you have to look towards the future. If you put in place a good code of conduct now and insist on safety, you’ll be thankful later. Coming soon: a blog on keeping yourself and your family safe as you work with multimedia! So here are a few of my favourite safety items and where to find them.
Box of 1000 gloves You’ll need to change your gloves often due to the hazardous and super sticky nature of resin. Unfortunately, for reusability and eco friendliness, it’s difficult to keep gloves for more than one session. They gunk up, split and the stickiness can ruin a perfectly de-moulded piece so change them often. There are plenty of other ways of reducing, reusing and recycling plastic. I usually buy my gloves from market stalls and car boot sales, usually around £2 or you can offer a fiver for three boxes which often works. If I’ve run out I find poundshops often have cheap thin gloves but they’re not as good.
No More Gloves
No More Gloves (£5/100ml) is the branded barrier liquid or you can go for good old fashioned…
calamine lotion at just £3.75/100ml or even cheaper at Superdrug! They’re both made of a zinc oxide solution that provides a barrier on your skin. I like to use it on my hands and lower arms in case they get dirty or I get resin on them. It means stuff doesn’t adhere to my skin.
zinc oxide powder can be mixed with some water but I’ve never tried it.
Respirator and Glasses
respirator and glasses set I highly recommend you protect your eyes and lungs with a but I don’t always wear mine
Disposable dust masks should, at the very least, be worn while drilling and filling resin and you should never do this around children and pets
A thick cotton apron and I try to wear denim jeans to protect my legs from any spills and sharps dropping down. Joanna at Isabel Necessary put my logo on some aprons which feels really professional and sets a good image.
Hair bobbles to tie back your hair. Mine disappear so I buy a hundred at a time, half for me and half for Ayla. Mine live on the magnet board and I grab one before any resin or metalwork
Hair bands to stop the strays falling down
Sending Kits for Breastmilk etc
Large letter postage boxes are brilliant for posting out your sending kits and we recycle these when they’re not ripped
Some labeled 3ml pots for your clients’ hair, ash and cord or for a higher-end look that’s plastic-free you can use small aluminium lip balm tins
Heat and freezer-proof plastic tubes for breastmilk, 10ml
This size clear hygiene bags are essential for the breastmilk tubes which sometimes leak, and we found we must tell clients to keep the two milk tubes in one bag and the hair pot in another because we’ve had back hair soaked in milk before! Plastic-free cellulose bags are great too if you’re trying to minimise plastic. We’ll be adding a blog soon on single-use plastic in keepsake jewellery if you’re worried about that. Even ashes and placenta powders sometimes leak so they need bags too to make sure nothing can escape and fall out of the box
First class large letter stamps from eBay, one for the outside and one for inside
A ton of fine tip Sharpies… I can’t keep enough of these around and they’re essential for marking the breastmilk tubes, ash pots, bags, labels and metalworking. The ASDA CD pens wash off in the pressure cooker!
Cheap ring sizers are perfect if you’re selling rings and clients just send them back with their kits. Every six months or so we invest in a new batch to cover the ones that weren’t returned but in general clients are great.
A laserjet printer and printer paper for the sending instructions with the kits which the clients return as well (you can reuse them). Sample instructions coming soon!
Plastic takeaway tubs are great for organising orders. There’s no right or wrong way to organise them but these work perfectly for breastmilk drying. You can store them on a shelf, a shoe rack (Home Bargains and IKEA are great here). Great for storing epoxy resin pieces whilst they cure
Storage units like this are perfect for keeping the takeaway tubs. I literally found mine outside someone’s house, knocked on their door and asked if it was ok to take it. You don’t need to spend money on everything; try to make do and mend. My containers and drawers are all labeled with Brother labels, I got it on eBay second hand and it saves us time, but you can write them out by hand. The Works sells rolls of labels and don’t forget to keep all your label backs, the shiny side is perfect for working hair on!
Highlighters for colour coding. When a new order arrives in the post I write out a label and print it twice. One for the container and one for the shipping box. I use the same colours to mark them on spreadsheets. We all use Google Drive which is free and I like to keep it open on .
Tablet in front of me for looking at orders whilst making. I have a Google Drive app on my iPad so I can see the current order sheet, I can rearrange columns etc. Free download templates coming soon! Make sure you get a screen protector because you’ll probably get resin on it. Keep it away from children and pets, it can be your work tablet. I like to listen to audio book whilst working, and Amazon have given me a link for you all to get a free audio book here:
Peg boards are great for holding orders that are in cellophane bags, for hanging supplies and keeping your workspace clutter-free. IKEA do wonderful peg boards
Plastic test tubes like this, we send each client two tubes for their milk marked at 5ml and 7ml for the client to add milk between the lines, with their name and order number written on the sides and lid in Sharpie. When they arrive we pop them in the freezer and every few weeks we take one tube for each client to preserve.
Storage for the test tubes like this rack
Plastic pipettes to add preservative (you are responsible for testing and purchasing the preservative at your own risk, please use care)
An electric pressure cooker is perfect for heat treating the milk and it’s ideal if you buy one with a steaming rack, which keeps the tubes propped up. Once each tube is completely cooled we sort the tubes into their order containers and what’s left is kept in a cupboard
Preparation of Elements
Pestle and mortar is perfect for ashes, umbilical cord and breastmilk and you don’t need an expensive brand, just a white one. I sterilise it in between use with a plastic-free antibacterial wipe and recommend buying a different pestle and mortar for each element (you could paint the outside with nail polish such as blue for breastmilk, green for cremation ashes and pink for umbilical cords)
Of course we think our moulds are the best but you can pick up cheapies on Amazon to practice resin work. When you’re selling high quality keepsakes you have to make sure your moulds are replaced as soon as they begin to cloud so you don’t lose shine
Cheap pendant moulds that don’t need drilling are fun and a great way to show locks of hair and flowers
Little gemstone moulds are great for casting ash and umbilical cord, which can have silver bails attached or be cast in a larger setting of clear resin
UV resin this brand is the best I’ve found. Other UV resins smell awful in comparison. I now think UV resin is vital for keepsake jewellery because it’s fast, meaning you can concentrate on one client’s order at once, not pour a dozen and wait days for it to cure. It works at low temperatures (I remember winters waiting forever for epoxy resin to cure, now I can finish an order in one sitting)
LED UV Lamp with a low heat setting like this one is perfect, uses less energy than a bulb lamp and looks nice in my studio
Toothpicks are perfect for removing bubbles. I know some people use a lighter to get them out but that only works on open-back moulds, such as cabochons. The ideal way to remove bubbles is to work in the dark and let a piece sit for a few minutes to allow them to rise, before adding powders and other elements
Mica powders and other colours. Craft shops like Hobbycraft sell edible shimmers that are perfect with resin
Titanium dioxide is a white UV stabiliser which helps with breastmilk preservation but be careful: a tiny little bit goes an awfully long way
A spirit level makes sure the space where you’re drying is totally level
Needle files will remove a bit of resin at a time
A Dremel-style rotary tool is perfect for filing off bits of resin, metalworking, polishing etc
Cotton buffing wheels are nice and gentle on plastic and metal, but you should try to make sure your resin pieces don’t need polishing. The best finish comes from a nice shiny mould. You can use your UV resin to apply another coat to any piece or just dome where you’ve drilled
Calipers and feel guide for measuring everything from moulds to casts, findings and settings, and metalsmithing
Charm inserts from Ebay, Cookson Gold or Palmer Metals. You have to be careful because lots of inserts online say they’re solid sterling silver and are 925 stamped, but are just silver plated base metal. The price should give you an indication. If in doubt and you can afford to lose one, scratch it and put it in water for a few days. If it’s base metal it’ll rust.
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