“It was a priceless gift, and a lot of work. I made her a pendant to say thank you,” says Sharoupim.
But it was no ordinary pendant. The new mom created it from some of the donated milk, using her background as a pharmacist to figure out how to preserve it as a creamy, white stone.Is domperidone really a magic breastfeeding pill?
The pendant got so much attention that Sharoupim began selling a few pieces on Facebook, and over time she had enough orders to launch her own business, Mamma’s Liquid Love. Now women from as far away as Israel, India and Brazil ship their “liquid love” to her to be encapsulated and set into jewelry.
The idea took off, and now Sharoupim, from New Jersey, is among dozens of vendors who design keepsakes from blingy, diamond-studded halo rings to simple, circle pendants—all carrying drops of hardened breast milk. The pieces sell for $50 to over $600.
Jewelry makers’ processes vary. Sharoupin’s takes two and a half weeks, beginning with sterilizing and drying the milk, then hardening it and encapsulating it in resin.
Like many of the growing number of vendors, she take custom orders. She works with a mom who’s a metal smith who has made turtles, a crab, a moon, or whatever has personal meaning.
“When I tell people I make breast milk jewelry, their reactions are usually one extreme or the other,” says Sharoupim.
Some people are disgusted by the idea of preserving and wearing body fluid. Others see it as a beautiful symbol of an even more beautiful experience. Some moms have even replaced their wedding bands with breast milk jewelry.
For Angie Lloyd of Port Moody, BC, her breast milk ring represents a place in time and a connection with her daughter. “That period where it’s just Zaylia, and me,” she says.
Lloyd’s “Empress ring” is a Medieval design, with a sterling silver crown encircling the milk stone. She had shimmer, or “fairy milk,” added, which brings out the unique tones of a woman’s milk.
“When the package came, and I opened the little jewelry box inside, I was totally surprised and thrilled to see my milk was a beautiful lilac tint.”
Her ring holds milk she pumped on Mother’s Day, and she only wears it on special occasions.
“I don’t want to risk something happening to it if I were doing dishes or playing around with the kids. So I’ll wear it on my daughter’s birthday. Or when I’m not necessarily enjoying nursing, to remind me how much this bond means and that I will miss it when it’s gone.”
Those who notice Phoebe Farag Mikhail’s ring finger see a sterling silver tree of life. They have no idea what the stone in the middle is, unless the New Jersey mom tells them. Though, for her, there’s a story behind the breast milk gem that’s far more important than the novelty factor.
Farag Mikhail had a low milk supply with her third child. Determined to do for her youngest son what she did for his siblings, she had hours-long feeding sessions, day and night, then pumped in between to make more. Oatmeal became a diet staple, and she boiled and drank herbs, having read these things might boost supply.
“It was a big challenge, and I was ecstatic to overcome it and be able to nurse him. I had this ring made as a reminder that I went through this because of how much I love my kids, and to remember special times, like hours holding him and reading while he nursed,” says Farag Mikhail.
Friends from her moms’ Facebook group have had varied reactions, like “weirded out”; “love it!”; and “bad experience nursing: I would not want to commemorate it.”
But Farag Mikhail doesn’t care if people don’t get it. The ring has deep significance to her, and it fascinates her children. When her eldest kids gaze at it and ask questions, she loves being able to tell them, “I did this for you too.”