Personalized genetic jewelry is finding fans in India, with trinket makers helping customers preserve precious DNA and take-home memories
DNA and keepsake jewelry preserve breast milk, teeth, hair, nails, umbilical cord and dry blood
Five years ago, Preethy Vijay learned via a Facebook group survey about what seemed odd but unique: breastmilk jewelry. Her craft background came in handy when the Chennai resident launched @mommasmilkylove on Instagram. The idea behind his business is to create a keepsake using items that contain an individual’s genetic markers. She also uses the umbilical cord, strands of hair, fingernails and milk teeth for her creations. In Delhi, Preety Maggo runs @the_magic_of_memories, a bespoke DNA trinket jewelry line. The idea is to celebrate a moment or connection by incorporating human DNA into a locket or ring. According to the makers of this type of jewelry, DNA can be preserved for thousands of years if properly stored.
While a few artists were creating this brand of personalized jewelry in India, Maggo says the quality of the raw materials is not there. “I import mine from the United States. I use FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approved raw materials,” she adds of the ingredients that go into making the trinkets, the most important of which is the quality of the resin.
Pendants that use hair and the umbilical cord
Manufacturers say their biggest challenge is ensuring DNA components are properly stored. While one of the processes used involves taking a mouth swab, dehydrating it into a powder form and sealing it in a cavity in the jewellery, Maggo and Vijay called the preservation process confidential and refused to divulge details. of this article. What Vijay says is that a close friend’s education in chemistry proved helpful as YouTube tutorials did not yield satisfactory results. Maggo, on the other hand, knew the basics from his background in medicine.
Jewelery can cost upwards of 3,500 rupees and is usually set in silver, gold and artificial metal, depending on the customer’s preference and design.
Both say their clients are largely women and new mothers. Maggo adds that she also gets requests from pet owners who bring her a tuft of hair to make into a personalized piece of jewelry. “When I started, only women seemed interested. Now I also have dads calling me to inquire about breast milk jewelry. They are not annoying,” adds Vijay.
In fact, the normalization and spread of breastfeeding was one of the main reasons why Maggo launched this gem. She remembers when she was a new mother and preferred to breastfeed when so many young women she knew resorted to formula milk for their babies. “I thought that if I could make it an accessory, it could encourage young mothers to realize the importance of breast milk,” she says at midday.
Ms. Brinda, Preethy Vijay and K. Aruna Madhavi
Earlier this year, K Aruna Madhavi, 34, decided to create a keepsake from her eldest son’s umbilical cord and a breast milk pendant for her younger son. “I like to keep memories alive,” she says of the motivation. Since her two sons, now nine and two, were rainbow babies, she decided to use the VIBGYOR theme for the two pendants she personalized. The first letter of their names is created using hair, while the Rainbow Tree uses the umbilical cord. “Our ancestors also preserved the umbilical cord, I heard, and now we have the technology that can turn it into an elegant keepsake. It has emotional value,” says Madhavi, adding that it also helps the person recover. DNA if necessary and reconstruct it for future analysis.
Mrs Brinda, based in Bengaluru, kept her son’s first tooth in the cavity of a pendant, with the design of a tree and his name.
“I thought it would be wonderful for him to have this when he grows up. This type of jewelry is fascinating and new to me,” she says.
The makers say they sometimes get bizarre requests, including keeping fresh blood, saliva, human feces and even a sixth finger that may have been surgically removed. “I also decline requests to include human ashes in jewelry, as it is best if the ashes are returned to earth,” Maggo explains.