Memorial Jewelry - What I need you to know

Memorial Jewelry - What I need you to know

I've put together a blog post as a reference for those deciding on the best way to preserve the memory of a loved one through jewelry.

Memorial jewelry, essentially keepsake jewelry, can encompass ashes, hair, remnants of clothing, gravesite soil, or any item that holds sentimental value to remember a lost loved one.

The creation of memorial jewelry comes in various styles, with the most popular being ashes mixed with resin poured directly into a setting or poured into a mold and then set in jewelry.

Numerous jewelers specialize in this style of jewelry, and it's no surprise why – it's affordable and falls within most people's price range.

As a jeweler specializing in traditional goldsmithing techniques, I have reservations about incorporating any kind of glue in my jewelry. I don't mean to criticize jewelers who create this type of jewelry, but one of my key priorities is crafting pieces that endure and can be easily repaired, resized, and re-polished throughout their lifetime.

In essence, resin jewelry, especially when worn daily, lacks longevity. It essentially consists of plastic. Despite my efforts to gather information on whether to include resin in the memorial pieces I create, there's one unavoidable issue - it tends to yellow. Over time, all resin will exhibit a yellowing effect.

For a frequently worn item like a ring, wearing it daily is likely to result in noticeable damage within just a few months.

In the case of daily wear rings, like wedding and engagement rings, I advise against using any stone that ranks below 8 on the Mohs scale, with 7.5 being the minimum acceptable. To put it in perspective, resin would fall at around 2.5 on the Mohs scale. Considering this, along with its tendency to yellow over time, I don't want to include resin in the type of jewelry I create.

I thought about incorporating ashes or hair into resin and placing a stone on top. However, the problem of the resin turning yellow over time would remain. Some resin jewelers insist that their products won't yellow, but I suspect this might only be true if you wear the piece occasionally and store it in a dark place. UV exposure is the culprit for yellowing, and even resins with UV inhibitors and purple pigments will eventually turn yellow if exposed daily to UV light.

Producers of premium resin primarily design their products for surfaces, coatings and void pours not specifically with jewelry in mind. These resins aren't formulated to withstand the wear and tear, contact with body oils, lotions, and perfumes that jewelry typically encounters on a daily basis.

Many individuals who buy memorial jewelry aim to keep their loved ones close at all times. For me, this necessitates using materials that can endure daily wear and the challenges of everyday life.

In crafting memorial jewelry, I adopt an "urn" style. This involves creating a piece with a designated chamber for holding ashes or hair, topped with a clear jewel. This design allows for a visible window to the ashes or keepsake, providing a meaningful connection.

Doing it this way means you can combine precious metals with a hard gemstone that can withstand daily wear. 

The downside of preserving ashes and other items in this manner is its susceptibility to water. Ashes have a crumbly sandstone-like texture, and when mixed with water, they can form a slurry. Small amounts of this slurry may seep through minuscule gaps in the setting, as it's not completely water-tight. When the ash slurry dries underneath the stone, it leaves a smudgy appearance. While not catastrophic, it does mean you might lose some clarity when looking through the stone.

If you inadvertently shower or bathe with your non-resin ashes jewelry, it's not the end of the world. However, you'll need to let it air-dry in a warm, dry place afterward.

If you're preserving hair, it's crucial to avoid any submersion in water. Moisture trapped beneath the stone could create an environment for mold growth. Additionally, it ccould leave a watermark on the underside of the stone due to minerals in the water once it dries.

Typically, when using clear stones in regular jewelry, you can clean the piece with water and soap to eliminate grime build-up, especially on open-backed pieces. However, this option isn't viable for non-resin memorial jewelry since they are enclosed. Therefore, it's crucial to carefully consider the type of jewelry you choose to wear.

Although it's feasible to craft a ring with ashes, I advise against it. Personally, I couldn't commit to the care required to remove it every time I washed my hands (I’d definitely forget), and I wouldn't expect my customers to either if they are planning on wearing the piece every day. Hence, I limit my creations to pendants and earrings/bracelets or make sure the customer is fully aware of the care requirements associated with a memorial ring.

So in summary here is a list of pros and cons for resin and traditionally made keepsake jewelry.

For resin memorial jewelry


  • Affordable

 • Water resistant

• if worn occasionally could work as a ring



• Will not stand up to daily wear

• Will yellow over time

• Keepsakes cannot be removed once set in resin

• Irreparable

• Not recommended for daily-worn rings


For traditionally set memorial jewelry


• Can withstand daily wear

• Can be repaired because keepsake can be removed before being worked

• Will last a lifetime like other fine jewelry

• Can be passed as an heirloom


• Cannot get wet/submerged

• Not recommended for rings

• Expensive

In my opinion the best form of memorial jewelry is a keepsake as a pendant. There’s less chance of you forgetting to remove it before showering and it won’t have to stand up to the rigors that a ring would.  Treat it like you would a photo locket or an Ethiopian opal.

I hope this provides you with some insights. I don't want to discourage you from getting memorial jewelry in any form, but I've noticed that not enough keepsake jewelers are entirely transparent about the durability and care requirements of their creations, whether made in resin or through traditional methods.

Owning a keepsake piece of jewelry is a truly beautiful way to keep your loved one close to you, allowing their memory to become a tangible and cherished part of your everyday life. The unique and personalized nature of keepsake jewelry, crafted with utmost care and attention to detail, captures the essence of your loved one, creating a lasting connection that goes beyond mere sentiment.

If you're considering this meaningful journey, don't hesitate to explore the option of commissioning keepsake jewelry, as it can serve as a profound and enduring tribute to the special bond you shared. Feel free to email me to discuss how we can create a personalized keepsake that beautifully honors your loved one.


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