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Making Umbilical Cord Jewellery

How To Make Umbilical Cord Jewellery and Placenta Keepsakes

The first piece of keepsake jewellery I ever made was with the placenta from my son Bastian. I added a little epoxy resin from a Pebeo kit (like this one) to a small flat heart shape in a silicone letter mould I’d bought at the Poundshop (Dollar Store).

I took the finished heart and stuck it on some wide clear packing tape and placed a bronze open bezel around it. I covered it in resin and waited several days for it to dry. It’s still perfect and I like to wear it on a simple waxed cotton cord choker, sometimes with a charm bead either side. I took it on live national TV in April 2017…
placenta and umbilical cord jewellery on This Morning in March 2017 placenta and umbilical cord jewellery on This Morning in March 2017

As you can see, Philip Schofield doesn’t seem so keen but Holly said the pieces were “really pretty”. In the first photo, the piece on the right was that first one I ever made. I had heard about placenta jewellery in my encapsulation group and people were talking about stirring the ground powder into resin. Someone had asked how to keep it in a heart shape without the grains moving around and sinking but I started watching YouTube videos obsessively.

I considered doing resin-only pieces but thought they looked a bit tacky. I didn’t know where to buy crown settings and cabochon moulds and certainly not how to set a bezel with a rubover like I do now. Use the tools available to you and your skill to make what you think is pleasing and communicates what you intend to with the piece, and customers will find you and love your style. Don’t worry if you don’t have the technical knowledge yet; that’s what the learning process is for!

I put everything on the dining table, much to The Viking’s dismay. Looking back, that probably wasn’t the best of ideas. Ayla was two and Bastian was just three months old. After a few weeks I got some orders through our Facebook page and

If you’re making a lot of resin jewellery in big batches then it’s cost-effective to use epoxy resin. Lots of people ask me what brand to buy but I always found the unbranded rigid casting epoxy like this one to be best.  Sadly EcoResin is a no-go and I nearly lost my business due to dozens of pieces going yellow. Usually you get epoxy resin in two bottles, part A and part B, which you have to mix perfectly in exact ratios and can take several days to cure. It would be perfect for doing big batches of flower jewellery, such as rose bud pearls.

We mostly use UV resin like the Qiao Qiao UV Resin (I can’t find the name for this brand, but it’s the one that works), you can also use the Lisa Pavelka brand but it’s more expensive and you can’t get the big bottles.  My trick is to buy a 60g bottle and a 200g bottle to refill it with. The little bottles are great to pour directly in your moulds. You’ll also need a cheap gel lamp like this. My hack for the gel lamp is to remove the plastic insert and place the lamp on a sheet of aluminum foil! We want the maximum amount of light to hit the jewellery to cure the resin and you work in layers.

With UV resin it’s easier to keep the resin from getting too thick (which happens with epoxy during its pot life).  So long as you keep it away from the gel lamp and the sunshine it will stay liquid and thin enough to work.  If your resin is too thick it gets sticky and the hair won’t move around. To prepare a lock of hair piece I get together what I need so it’s all within reach and make sure I’ve got my protective things on.

example of the ideal amount of hair to send for lock of hair and fur keepsake jewellery from Tree of Opals example of the ideal amount of hair to sendexample of the ideal amount of fur to send for lock of hair and fur keepsake jewellery from Tree of Opals example of the ideal amount of fur to send

Safety Making Lock of Hair Jewellery

1. Make sure you’re not working round kids and pets. Even if a resin has low fume it can still cause a reaction. I’ve heard of people not only having reactions from contact with resin (like me) but having trouble breathing. Even for yourself you need to take care.

2. Wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment).
I like to wear a thick coating of a barrier spray like the 3M Cavilon or No More Gloves. Then I know if I’m struggling and have to take off my gloves, my skin’s got some protection. I tried Metanium but it made my work marked and I managed to get some on my silverwork which gave it a nasty coating of dull titanium! Then I double up on nitrile gloves and pop on a face mask.

Resin Lock of Hair Jewellery

Our best selling items are our charm beads. They take a bit of practice and a special mould and knowledge of filing, doming and attaching hardware called inserts, also known as grommets and washers. Pearls are popular, they are spheres made with 10mm moulds but can be bigger or smaller, and need to be drilled and attached to pearl cups. Rings are a little less complicated because you can pour the resin into a ring cup, or make a cabochon (a “stone” with clients’ elements) and fit it into a ring with crown settings. I’ll write more blogs soon on settings and explain the differences between the three main style of setting resin rings, how to drill charm beads and pearls.

To prepare the hair, take an even lock and place it on some shiny paper, like the type labels come on. Pour a little resin on top and make sure it’s soaked in. Sometimes we cut the paper to make each end of the hair even. Then use a toothpick to pick up the hair and place it round the edge of the mould. Make sure there’s enough resin on it or you’ll get microbubbles that leave lines around the edge of the finished piece. I recommend using a water clear mould, or at least translucent

silicone sphere moulds (left to right) blue RTV opaque, platinum cure translucent, water clear silicone sphere moulds (left to right) blue RTV opaque, platinum cure translucent, water clear

If you’re using UV resin, cure this as your first layer then fill the mould with more resin and any colours and additions. Sometimes we leave the resin completely clear and when the piece is cured we add a coloured core or background. You can add colour and shimmer, glitter, precious metal leaf, mica and even natural colourants like beetroot powder (although these tend to fade quickly in the sun). You will find your own style and clients will choose you because they like your work.  

Other Media to Make Lock of Hair Jewellery With

You can fill little glass bottles like these with a lock of hair and dried petals and opalescent flakes, sealed with jewellery glue. You then screw in an eyelet.

Glass vial jewellery, thanks to Colorized for the photo Glass vial jewellery, thanks to Colorized for the photo

cremation ash jewellery part 1 here and part 2 here

how to make breastmilk jewellery part 1 is here, part 2 is here and part 3 is here

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 being clean, 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) or when I’m nursing our son Bastian and I love the chance to share my creativity even more.

For classes on resin you may be able to find something local but I learnt all resin and most silversmithing from YouTube tutorials. We’re planning videos showing you how to make and use silicone moulds, open bezels and pour-in bezels as well as some studio safety. You can read about Fairtrade Gemstone Ethics here; if you’re adding precious stones to your work and Nikki is soon to be visiting a friend’s gemstone mine in Tanzania at the same time as delivering menstrual pads with their charity Project Kidogo.

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 on Amazon for our two children’s books. Aqui hablamos español, on parle français, hier spreken we nederlands, tunasema Kiswahili hapa, and føroyskt, but they love to see all languages.

how to make lock of hair jewellery blog by Nikki Kamminga of Tree of Opals

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