When one thinks of Grief and loss, what comes to mind? Somethings that I think of are sadness, depression, hurt, pain, death, a long process, and unavoidable. To others it might mean something completely different, our ideas of grief are often defined by our upbringings, cultures, experiences, society, etc.
Either way, the definition of grief remains the same across any domain; it is the natural process in that someone goes through in response to a loss of someone or something that had meaning to that person. Other forms of grief could be focused on physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, culture, or spiritual.
For the case of this article, we will be focusing on the loss of someone (human or animal) through death. The process itself involves some components such as acknowledgment of their pain, acceptance that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions, and understanding that grieving is unique to a person.
This article is going to focus on a ritual that is very unique and any area that doesn’t often get covered in regards to as an option for someone who is grieving and would like to commemorate a loved one.
What is this you ask, cremation or crematory jewelry? Cremation jewelry is a unique way that an individual copes with the grief of losing a loved one, a way that for them to carry the memory or ashes with them after they have passed.
What are your thoughts?
When you hear the term cremation jewelry, what are your initial thoughts? Do you have a visceral reaction, such as HELL NO? Do you have an intrigued reaction, such as tell me more? Or can you empathize with the process but simply feel like it’s not something for you.
Whatever your stance is on the issue, it comes down to this being a personal choice, often one that is guided by the connection with the person, religious views and values, and sometimes societies’ influence on how one should view, process, or discuss death.
What is Cremation Jewelry?
Simply put, cremation jewelry is an alternative opportunity for someone to commemorate the loss of a loved, one through the process of either creating a piece of jewelry that contains the remains of their loves ones, or a piece of jewelry that physically transforms their ashes into a handcrafted work of art.
Now a day it is easy to do a quick google search and find many companies that are willing to assist you in finding that special piece or willing to create it. Most websites I came across appeared very calming, explained processes well, and really appeared to understand how difficult a process such as grief is, which for me would be incredibly important if I myself was looking for a commemoration such as this.
A little history lesson shall we…
The art of cremation jewelry began around the 16th and 16th century, though this can not be pinpointed exactly, the earliest dated pieces have been traced back to those eras. The 16th century way of “mourning jewelry was definitely one to say eek about, often these types of “memento mori” jewelry were in the form of a skull or skeleton on a loved one. Count me out on that one.
During the 17t century though, rings became more of a normal way of memorializing a loved one on a day to day basis. These rings were engraved with the lost loved one’s name, age, birth and death dates. But even though this was a less creepy way of carrying the memory of a loved one, it wasn’t until the 18th century that mourning jewelry really became a big thing.
The 18th century involved the passing of Prince Albert of England and with it the bigger idea of mourning jewelry. During this time other ways than mourning jewelry came about such as dark clothing (why everyone wears black to a funeral) and dark jewelry made from black wood or onyx, these were brought on by Queen Victoria and her court during their grieving process of their beloved Prince Albert.
Even though the 19th and 20th centuries and into today cremation, mourning and memorial jewelry have developed more and more. The tradition of these unique methods of grieving has truly grown into something quite exquisite and often stunning.
Types of Cremation Jewelry
What I have found in my search are many different jewelry options that one can choose for the ashes of their loved ones. Below I am going to highlight what appears to be the most popular option. However, in the end, it is for you to decide what you might want that serves your style as well as the person that you lost.
Beads and Jewelry
Under this category, it is broken down into several other categories of cremation beads and pendants, such as standard, custom, crystals, stones, and or diamonds.
Standard Cremation Jewelry
Standard cremation jewelry is considered the containers that one might find that are already pre-crafted for you to choose such as an urn that you wear on a necklace or bracelet. These jewelry options are easily ordered and they come with easy to follow directions on how to place your loves one’s ashes into the containers/vessels.
Often you will find your kit to come with screws, a funnel, and glue. The goal is to assist you without spilling the ashes and then securing it permanently when you are completed.
Depending on your thoughts or beliefs about handling ashes, this might not be the option for you. might also feel nervous about spilling your loved one’s ashes. I know for myself I might feel mortified to know that Uncle Morty fell all over the kitchen table, so knowing that about myself I might not choose this option, and that’s ok.
Standard jewelry as stated above usually comes in the form of pendants, large beads, and crosses. You can also find beads that you can put on your Pandora Bracelet if you own one.
Here are a few examples of some standard cremation jewelry from Amazon:
Personalized Master Free Engraving Custom Stainless Steel Vertical Cuboid Square Cube Bar Urn Necklace/Keychain Key Ring for Ashes Keepsake Memorial Cremation Jewelry – this one is pretty good as a unisex style
Cremation Jewelry Set – set of 5 for family members
Carved Teardrop Keepsake Ashes Necklace Urn Pendant – the teardrop shape makes this one really unique
No Longer by My Side, Forever in My Heart Carved Locket Cremation Urn – this one has a really nice and meaningful quote
Customized jewelry is the process of utilizing some of your loves one’s ashes and turning them into a beautiful piece of art. These pieces are generally made of glass; either new or recycled that is headed to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit to liquefy the glass. The ashes are then added to the liquefied glass, the carbon from the ashes is then burned off turning the ashes to a glistening white color.
This EternityMemory Inlay Multi-Colored Square Crystal Bar Cremation Urn Necklace Holder for Ashes – Engravable is a great example of a custom piece, something very similar top this can be handmade and customized even more.
A memorial bead is a bead that is often handmade beads that are made from glass, porcelain, or ceramic. These unique beads have not only a unique look to them but the way they are made is pretty unique as well.
To create a memorial bead the ashes of a loved one are mixed in with the glass, porcelain or ceramic during the bead forming process. Once completed the ashes are now a permanent part of the bead that can not be separated. This method is one o that individuals chose if they are afraid to wear the actual ashes. These beads can be worn as a charm on a bracelet or a pendant on a necklace.
Am memorial bead looks like this Heart Charm Bead Cremation Urn and can be added to a bracelet or necklace. It is an urn style so you would fill it with the ashes.
Diamonds and Crystals
Diamonds and Crystals are slightly different than customized jewelry in that the entire stone is created using the ashes. During this process of creating a diamond; the ashes are heated in a mold over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, everything starts to oxidize besides the carbon. For a crystal, the carbon is heated until it turns to graphite. The graphite is then placed into a diamond seed crystal and placed in a press. This is then heated up once again, at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The graphite is then left to sit for a few weeks as it turns into a crystal.
Possibly the most popular product in the cremation jewelry line, the cremation pendants are typically worn on a necklace and come in many different types of designs, shapes, and materials. These are great because you can get them in the shape of something that symbolizes your lost loved one, such as a paw or cross.
These pendants can be worn by all genders and even children. Typically these start with a stainless steel base and then can be plated in white, yellow or rose gold, or silver. You can add engravings of a name or a favorite quote, gems or other stones can be added as well.
This beautiful Blue Heart Zirconia Urn Keepsake Pendant is perfect, comes as a kit and says so much about a loved one.
Pendants come as a kit, with a tiny flathead screwdriver, adhesive, a funnel, and the pendant. When you get your pendant you have to unscrew the hidden compartment, funnel the ashes of your loved one in, add the adhesive to the screw and seal it shut permanently.
A cremation ring is perfect for an individual that doesn’t want to hassle with a necklace or someone like me who has a sentimental necklace already that would not look right with a second charm or pendant added. You have more fingers to wear rings on than necks for a necklace, so why not?
Cremation rings are great and just as a pendant, they too can be fully customized for each individual. They can be made with silver, white, yellow or rose gold. These too can have gems and stones added or can be simple with just the shape of a heart as the face, the options are available for you to create something meaningful and unique to your liking.
This Sterling Silver Heart Cremation Urn Ring Hold Loved Ones Ashes is simple but has a huge meaning. I absolutely love the simplicity of this one.
Who doesn’t love earrings? Earrings are a great way to keep a loved one’s ashes or memories safe. they are less likely to get banged around and scratched up, the one thing about earrings, however, is if you don’t have them secured to your ears properly the will fall off and you possibly will not feel it.
Earrings like these Heart Cremation Keepsakes Earrings are simple like the mentioned ring above, they are urns as well so you would just add the ashes of your loved one in them and they are ready for wear.
Cremation earrings are very similar to the rings, the process is the same as far as making them, you can opt to have the ashes crystalized into the metal or a gem, or you can have them placed into an urn style earring. You can also add engravings or gems and stones to them as well.
Personally, bracelets are the best option for me, secondary to rings. I love them and they are very versatile. They can go with any ensemble and not look out of place. The options for creating a cremation or memorial bracelet are pretty wide as well. Which means you can create something that will symbolize the relationship you had with the loved one that passed.
Creating a cremation or memorial bracelet can be a bit tricky for some, there are so many possibilities it can become a stressor, my advice on how you create on is to keep the loved one and your relationship in mind through the entire process.
One more unique piece of jewelry
Not many would think of this piece of jewelry as an option but you can also have a broach made with the ashes of a loved one. These are really neat and can be fully customized the same way that any of the other jewelry items can.
Broaches are typically worn by females and often worn with a suit or dress. It has a pin on the back to secure it so that it does not get lost or fall off. These can be made from any metal and can have the ashes blended in with a stone or even in the metal.
So many options, how will you choose?
With so many options to choose from it can be very intimidating, making decisions for something so sensitive could be really stressful. So how will you decide what kind of cremation or memorial jewelry is right for you? This is not really one answer solves all kinds of questions.
It really depends on who you are remembering and the relationship you had. Was it a family member, a friend or even a pet? Was it a spouse that you want to always have close to your heart if so get a necklace or pendant to wear. Was it a childhood pet that you loved playing with, a bracelet or ring to remind you of those playful times. If it was a grandmother that told you all of her secrets and shared her wisdom with you, earrings are a good choice.
No matter what you get you will want to always have the thought put into what you are creating. This piece of jewelry can not be replaced or changed once sealed, it will be a forever piece that you will pass down in generations to follow.
Is cremation or memorial jewelry right for you?
How do you know if cremation or memorial jewelry is right for you? Well, if you have a sensitive soul and a big heart like me that loves sentimental things then the answer is yes, cremation or memorial jewelry is right for you. On the other hand, if you are someone who is afraid of things like spirits and other spiritual things then probably not the right thing for you.
I have a huge heart and I wear it on my sleeve so those around me know that stuff like cremation jewelry is a thing I would wear. For others though, the idea of carrying the ashes of a loved one around their neck just freaks or grosses them out.
I mean you basically wear a dead body part around like no big deal. However, this is why the ashes are sealed in a stone, metal or urn type container, far less gross and creepy than having a giant urn sitting on your mantle that could fall at any given moment. I am just saying.
Bottom line is, if you don’t find the idea of wearing the ashes of a loved one in the form of jewelry doesn’t make you say eww or what the heck then absolutely go for it. You will not regret doing so. If it does freak you out and you are okay with the ashes sitting in an urn then don’t. It is all about personal preference here.
No Right or Wrong Answer
The moral of the story is, to each their own. I believe that wearing cremation or memorial jewelry is unique and a great way to cope with grief, also an amazing way to remember a loved one, by carrying them close to you every day. This trend has certainly come a long way since the 16th century when it first came to light, with all of the options available there is no reason to feel “eek” about cremation jewelry.
Remember, there is always someone available to talk to. You never need to feel alone in the grieving process, everyone has gone through it at some point in life and just having a shoulder to cry on can go a long way. If you are going through the loss of a loved one and want to chat I will listen, just drop a comment and I will reach out to you.
Be sure to check out some other nifty functional craft ideas through our other posts here on Craft-ILY as well as checking out some videos on DIY and How To’s over on YouTube. Look for “Crafting Unedited” to see!