How to Make Cremation Ash Jewellery: Part 2 of 2. In part one of How to Make Cremation Ashes Jewellery here, we covered health and safety. There is a blog on making this beautiful cremation ashes heart necklace here and if you’d like to purchase cremation ashes jewellery then please see Nikki’s other business Tree of Opals here.
How To Practice Making Ashes Jewellery
If you would like some horse ashes sent with your order please order this dried leaf from us and put in the comments you’d like a sample of horse ashes to practice with. We’ll send you around a teaspoonful which is enough for dozens of pieces. The owner of the horse, kindly donated the ashes for practice and for me to make pieces for funeral homes, wanting her horse to be able to travel the world for years to come.
If you’d like to start straight away you can use ashes from the fire but you might find wood or charcoal ashes more lightweight than cremation ashes. They contain a lot of air and will float differently. Craft concrete like this works, but you will find spheres made from it very hard to drill, and it may set in epoxy resin too quickly! Ground black pepper can work too. People on social media are quick to offer ashes for practice but I find there are often caveats; they want to know exactly how you’ll use it and want every piece back, not ideal for practice and samples to show!
There isn’t much you need to do to prepare cremation ashes but often I like to finely grind them if they have big lumps. Not to a fine powder, but small enough to be sieved. Crematoria grind the bones after cremation into ashes, and you can further this process yourself. You aren’t altering them from a natural state, because the natural state is large shards of bone, you are improving their texture. You might want to tell people in your terms and conditions or product descriptions that you are doing it but I don’t think any client would mind.
Make sure that you are wearing a mask for dust particulates (see our UK Supplies List or the USA Supplies List, more coming soon). This 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)
Filling Bezel Cups and Glass Orbs
This video by Mona at CraftKlatch (oh my goodness, I love her videos – definitely worth subscribing!) she’s working with ashes from her fireplace, I believe, and two part resin. I’d recommend adding the ashes to the resin after putting it in the setting because adding the ashes to the pot of resin can be wasteful. If you pour only what you need, you can use the leftover resin for another client’s piece or another project
- The pros of this method are that it’s very easy, you don’t need a mould, instant results with UV resin, glossy finish, no need to set the finished piece. No worries the mould won’t fit the setting
- The cons of this method are that if you make a mistake, your piece may be ruined. You may be able to salvage the setting with some work (a milling bit and a hairdryer, dangerous and bad for your health). If the doming layer or the top has a flaw, you will need to sand it back and redome the piece. If the client doesn’t like the colour, you will need to start from scratch. With any filled bezel, there is a chance that the resin can pop out whilst being worn; leading to heartbreak and possible anger from your client if they lose the ashes
Filling a Mould
This is my video for making a cremation ashes heart necklace by filling a mould and putting it in a setting. Here’s the link for the 18mm heart mould (click here) and the full blog with written instructions is here (click)
- The pros of this method are that you can make several and choose the best to fit in the setting, or even better, let the client choose. You can make a little extra income by offering to set the extra pieces in metal for less than your usual retail price and many clients choose this option as a spare, or (especially for memorial jewellery) to gift to a family member. If you make a mistake, there’s no issue as you can just remake the pieces. If the client doesn’t like the colour, you can easily redo the piece without wasting an expensive setting. The finished pieces can be set professionally without worries they will pop out
- The cons of this method are that you may worry the mould won’t fit the setting. Our settings and findings recommendations in the mould product descriptions are usually pretty accurate but we can’t guarantee a setting from a third party. We are hoping to sell our own settings soon as guaranteed-fit mould-setting pairs. Also, you need to use a good quality mould or you might not get a nice shiny finish, although some pieces can be domed afterwards with resin for a shiny finish
How Much Ash Should My Client Send?
Once you’ve practiced and put some photos on your personal page or business social media, you will be asked if clients can order. I’d urge you to offer pieces free for review in the beginning or at least only ask them to cover costs unless you make mistakes. I find it’s hard in the beginning to know how much to ask a client to send. If they don’t send enough, you might run out whilst you’re making jewellery and even though you can ask them to send you more, they might expect you to pay the shipping for that. So you need enough, but not too much. If they send too much, it can spill inside the packaging or be expensive or difficult to post back to them, especially if they send cups full. I like to request a quarter of a teaspoon, which is plenty for me for several pieces using my techniques. You can ask for a few teaspoonsful but ask them not to send more than that.
I use this photo on Tree of Opals to tell them how much to send and we post them one of these little 3ml pots. Again, you can go with bigger pots, allow them to fill the pots, or send a couple of little bags. We send a cellophane bag to put the pot in, by the way.
You should always add a disclaimer that their ashes might be lost in the post etc. I like to warn people that I am human and the client may need to send more.
How To Start Selling Cremation Ashes Jewellery
This could again do with a whole blog by itself but I’m a full time working parent and there aren’t enough hours in the day to blog. I’ll get there eventually! My biggest tip for selling cremation ashes jewellery is be very careful with your terms and conditions, if you tell them in advance all the things that could go wrong, they will have realistic expectations. You can mention natural colour variations and resulting colours (ashes can be pure white, black, brown, grey or even have green, blue and pink flecks!). They vary in texture and size, although I recommend grinding them finely to avoid chunks.
Common problems with making cremation ashes jewellery are sinking ashes, yellowing resin and customer complaints about colour. Try to use UV resin and cure before the ashes sink, or if you’re using UV resin let it get to the consistency of honey or Marmite before stirring in resin so that the thickness suspends the particles. You can avoid yellowing resin by using a well known brand that’s recommended by others. We recommend Qian Qian UV Resin, which we now sell, or Axson D150 Rigid for epoxy resin.
Finishing and care
Make sure you wear PPE (personal protective equipment) when drilling resin or working with metal. Dust particles can be extremely harmful especially to your respiratory system. We have separate findings and finishings posts here, how to set a resin sphere, how to make a resin charm bead and more being added all the time.
Thank you for reading and please comment below if you have any questions.
I have more tutorials and blogs planned for the future including umbilical cord and placenta jewellery, how to make *trigger* baby loss keepsakes, metal clay jewellery and silversmithing. Also some blogs on parenthood, veganism, charity work, travelling and various other interests. Most of my blogs are written in notes on my phone when I don’t have internet access (the school gates, the car) and I love the chance to share my creativity even more.
Spellings – this blog is written in the United Kingdom so my spelling is in English. I’ll try to add alternatives after but our spelling of jewellery is correct here. Mould (UK) mold (US).
This post contains affiliate links that should work in the USA, Canada and the UK, meaning when if you buy one of our recommended products I receive a small amount of earnings which comes in handy for craft stuff for our small children.