Every now and then, a stranger will compliment one of Rebeca Brand’s rings.
She instantly smiles at the chance to share the story behind the shimmering piece on her hand. Because it’s not just any ol’ story about any ol’ ring.
The ring, complete with two shiny silver bands and a large, white pearl-looking stone, is one of the first pieces of jewelry Brand made for herself. And the white stone? It’s made with her own breast milk.
“When I tell people that, some are really fascinated by it,” Brand, 23, said. “Some people look at me really weird.”
She gets it. When she first heard about breast milk jewelry, the Colorado Springs mother was also weirded out.
“It is kind of confusing,” she said. “Like, that came out of a person?”
It soon started to make sense. The nervous new parent joined tons of online groups about navigating motherhood, including the topic of breastfeeding, which was a rough journey for Brand.
“It was not easy,” she says, speaking of constant bleeding and pain in the months following her daughter’s birth.
It took about nine months for her to get the hang of things. Around that time, Brand saw a post about breast milk jewelry in an online moms group.
Brand thought about the painful moments and the tender moments of those past nine months.
“I wanted something to remember it all by,” she said. “The whole idea went from weird to normal.”
The whole idea — of breast milk jewelry as a keepsake — appears to be taking off. The rapidly growing industry got its start within the last 20 years, according to established makers.
One of those makers is Amy McGlade, who goes by the Breast Milk Queen. On her website, the Australian mom and midwife writes about turning her creative hobby — making breast milk jewelry and soap — into a profitable business making six figures per year. McGlade also offers online courses for others looking to get into what she calls a billion-dollar industry.
She also explains how it works. For breast milk jewelry to be made, the milk first must be sterilized and preserved with a special powder. It’s then infused into a resin and that mixture can be used to create pieces that resemble traditional stones or crystals from afar. Up close, you might notice flakes of the breast milk.
One look at Etsy offers some proof of breast milk jewelry’s rising popularity. There are pages and pages of items, ranging from keychains to picture frames to pendants. Some come with prices above $500.
Brand, one of the latest moms to join the movement, hopes to offer more affordable options. After taking McGlade’s course, she started her business in August. Called BeeLiv Breastmilk Keepsakes, she sells a variety of rings and necklaces mostly for under $150.
And she’s doing so while pregnant with her second child.
Erika LaFore, of Parker, has been making breast milk jewelry since 2015 under the name Ten Tiny Toes Jewelry. Her goal is “preserving life’s most precious moments.”
For Brand and many moms, breastfeeding isn’t always precious.
“Personally, I know a lot of people want one of these because it’s such as rough journey,” she said. “It’s a way of saying, ‘Yes we did it.’”
Her website tells a similar story: “Breastfeeding is hard. I’ve started making breast milk jewelry keepsakes so you’ll have something close to your heart to remember why you are doing it in the first place.”
But when she wears her ring or makes a new one, she’s reminded of some happy moments with her baby.
“I’ll always get to remember holding her so close so often,” Brand says. “No matter how old she is.”