Frequently Asked Questions
February 2018 Update
We’re still so grateful to everyone for their patience over the past few months and are working really hard to make everything look beautiful. We now have several artists working together as a team to make each piece with care and consideration. We’re so excited to announce our new laser etching service and look forward to seeing the changes to the website over the course of the year. New orders will probably take around three months to complete but the official lead times in our T’s and C’s still apply
Nikki and The Team
Call 0117 329 2197 if you need help (not always available) and don’t forget to read the Terms and Conditions properly, please don’t just tick the box on the checkout
Q1: Can I have an update on my order? And any questions about ETA’s, progress, status or any other queries about how orders are coming along.
A: You can check your order status right here. We update orders by changing their status. Occasionally we add notes but this is not standard. Order statuses are often for our artists and metalsmiths to organise orders. If there are no updates on your account that means there’s no new information. We are working on orders that were placed before yours and when yours is ready we will update the account. We do ask clients not to ask for updates as it makes the process longer for everybody. We’re grateful for everyone’s patience.
Q2: How do I log into my account?
A: Just go to My Account to log in. If you need your password reset please email firstname.lastname@example.org because the password reset emails often don’t work. Usually when someone struggles to log in it’s because they’re putting in their email address… it needs to be your username. Everyone sets one up when they order but we will reset it if you like.
Q3: How do I send you my breastmilk/ash/hair/cord/flowers etc?
A: Please allow a few weeks for us to send you a kit which contains instructions.
Q4.1:How long do orders take?
A: Orders are taking between six to eight months at the moment due to illness. Please be patient, we are trying our very best.
Q4.2: Why this long?
A:It’s not an excuse but being a full time parent AND a full time CEO, running a household and meal planning for the family, paying bills, mentoring new artists and an apprentice is bloomin’ hard work especially having severe depression and anxiety and chronic fatigue. I only take on the work I enjoy and can visualise and often end up referring people to other artists and jewellers as a result. Our work is very sought-after which is flattering but stressful and my health as a parent is important. If the wait is a problem then perhaps now isn’t the right time to order here.
Q5: Can I order in time for someone’s birthday/wedding?
A: This isn’t currently available due to illness unfortunately, we don’t want to disappoint anyone. We are working on orders placed five months ago and it’s unfair to people who have been waiting a long time to have another client be moved ahead. We have electronic gift certificates that are emailed and we give you the code, but if you’d like one sent on recycled high quality cardstock please ask in advance. Usually orders take around six months. We are not guaranteeing any orders for Christmas this year, but do have a selection of premade jewellery available to ship immediately. If you’re looking for a keepsake sooner then we’re more than happy to recommend other artists.
Q6: My friend says you sent them updates, why can’t I have one?
A: Sometimes if we have made a couple of variations we might send a client a photo to see which they prefer. Sometimes if I’ve just made a ring I’m really excited about I might send a client a sneak preview but that’s only if Ayla hasn’t run off with my phone/my phone has battery/I’m not so exhausted I’m falling asleep/I haven’t got to get the kids from nursery any minute; it’s something I do occasionally for clients whose input I need or if I’m inspired and able but it’s not often. It’s not our normal practice to send a photo.
Q7: I paid and sent in my elements and I haven’t heard a thing back?
A: Our emails are often deleted by clients’ email providers, especially if you’re with Hotmail! You have to whitelist @treeofopals.com click here for instructions. We are working very hard to make email clients accept mail from our server.
Q8: How do I add email@example.com to my safe senders list on Hotmail? Your emails weren’t in my junk folder.
- Select Options from the top right (next to the question mark)
- Select More options > Safe and blocked senders (under Preventing junk email) > Safe senders
- In the space provided, enter the domain @treeofopals.com
- Select Add to list
- Ensure the safe mailing lists box has the address you entered, and select OK
(more providers are listed here). For mobile users you can request the desktop site of your email provider in your browser. If THAT doesn’t work then remember, 1 in 10 people spell their email addresses wrong when they order, just ask Joanna on Facebook to check the email address we have for you or log in with the username and password you set originally. If you’re whitelisting our email address because you can’t log in then please ask Joanna to reset your password.
Q9: My order’s showing as on hold, what does that mean?
A: We haven’t marked your elements as received yet. If it’s been over a week since you posted please feel free to check with us on Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org and add your order number as the subject. If your order is showing as Processing it means we’ve received your elements and they are in the queue to be made. Our admin staff try to keep on top of things and keep the orders up to date but please allow us time to reply
Q10: I clicked pay by bank transfer but where are your bank details?
A: They usually come up at the end of the checkout process but if you missed them please log in to your account here: if it’s showing as Pending Payment there should be a link to pay again, where you can choose bank transfer or PayPal etc. but if it’s showing as On Hold then contact us to have it changed to Pending Payment.
Q11: My transaction on PayPal didn’t complete or I didn’t have the funds – do I have to redo the order?
A: No, just log in to your account here and you’ll see your order. If it’s showing as Pending Payment there should be a link to pay again, where you can choose bank transfer or Stripe etc. but if it’s showing as On Hold then contact us to have it changed to Pending Payment.
Q12: How much hair/ash/cord do I need for a piece? My baby hasn’t had a hair cut yet!
A: Have a look at the Sending Elements page for detailed instructions on how to send your precious items to us. Don’t forget to add your order number and full name, never ever send everything and call if you get stuck.
Q13: What if you’re not home to get my elements?
A: Please don’t send signed for or registered if you can help it, definitely not breastmilk – if we’re “red carded” we have to go to the depot immediately to collect because of how precious the elements are. Just Royal Mail large letter is fine for UK senders, and never send anything irreplaceable (e.g. don’t send the whole lock of hair or cord stump). If your element is irreplaceable then contact us before ordering! Due to illness Nikki can’t always get to the post office.
Q14: How do I know for certain you’re not just putting melted LEGO in my breastmilk jewellery?
A: Nikki was told by a midwife they would never breastfeed, yet here they are, breastfeeding Bastian who is almost three. It was against all the odds (more on that here). It’s such an amazing substance that we’re able to give babies and Nikki will always treasure and respect every drop that she comes into contact with. Some of our first few customers were the families who donated milk to Nicola’s children before they were able to stop supplementing. Lots of breastmilk artists have had a very emotive breastfeeding journey themselves and start making the pieces for themselves and friends to honour that journey and the idea that anybody would do something dishonest with their clients’ elements is appalling. It probably doesn’t happen.
Nikki now blogs about making breastmilk and other keepsake jewellery although we don’t recommend DIY because of the expense of the equipment and the nature of the chemicals. We urge people not to try it unless they are doing so as a self-taught professional and are realistic with their expectations. We aren’t able to help people individually with their methods but we have a group on Facebook called Breastmilk Jewellery Group for artists who have done some trial and error already.
Q15: But how can I be certain you’re not just using someone else’s ash etc.?
A: Again, there’s no way to be certain but I just ask you to have trust and faith in us. From the minute we receive your labeled package it gets checked to make sure it has the right details. The order number stays with it throughout the whole process until it reaches you. That’s why the sending instructions are so strict about adding your order number to your elements, it means we’re always double checking… Especially for the customers whose Facebook, order, shipping and PayPal names are different (if that’s the case please write all the names on your order). When clients drop off their elements in person we’re always happy to show them the studio with our little aluminium boxes all colour coded.
“Part of the reason I started making cremation ash jewellery is because I wished with all my heart I’d kept some of my dad’s ashes when he passed away in 2010. I didn’t know I was allowed to. Every piece I make with cremation ash reminds me of my dad’s cremation and I think it honours his memory to allow people to keep their own parents, children and loved ones physically close. The idea of even spilling any ash would be dishonouring him, and the thought of deceiving anyone I can’t even imagine what he would think of that! Please read my blog A Day In The Life of a Bereavement Jewellery Artist to learn more about how I work with elements from your deceased loved ones.”
Q16: I’m still not convinced – can I DIY?
A: Please see question 14 above. Some people dye their hair at home and some people prefer to go to a well-established hairdresser with great reviews; you can certainly buy DIY kits for breastmilk jewellery but for something so important it can be nice to treat yourself. Just think of all the money you’ve saved over formula.
Q17: Is your company ethical?
A: Our jewellery is sustainable, PETA-approved vegan and cruelty-free. We use recycled precious metal and packaging where possible and although our jewellery is plastic, it is not single-use. We tried using EcoResin for a while but all of it turned yellow. More to follow soon in a blog. Nikki writes about vegan jewellery and ethics/alternatives for jewellers to traditional leather and beeswax. Nic is personally a member of La Leche League GB and The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers which are both non-profits supporting nursing families, and visits Tanzania with reusable menstrual pads every now and again. At least 10% of our work is pro bono (free of charge) for families who have lost a baby or young child.
Q18: Do your charms fit Pandora bracelets?
A: Here are some photos from our clients showing off their keepsake and memorial charm beads
Q19: I want to make my own jewellery but can you make the basic resin blanks for me? Flatbacks, pearls and beads etc?
A: Yes here’s the link to the breastmilk blanks, the placenta/umbilical cord blanks are here, cremation ash blanks and lock of hair coming soon. You can ask for any colours, sparkles, precious metal leaf or opalescent flakes etc. free of charge, or add on a precious stone or additional element (adding a lock of hair to breastmilk or ash, or adding cord to a lock of hair piece, for example).
Q20: Is breastmilk and umbilical cord safe for you to work with? What about HIV etc?
A: I would never dream of asking someone’s HIV status unnecessarily and I don’t need to know for your jewellery. Although most people in the UK are tested for BBV’s (blood bourne viruses) during pregnancy, there is still a very small chance that some of the elements we are working with and receiving have some kind of virus. We use PPE (personal protective equipment) and follow protocol as if every sample were contaminated. Feel free to pasturise your milk before sending if you think there’s a chance of a virus being present, and if someone chose to tell us they had an infection then we promise to respect their privacy. Nic is regularly tested for BBV’s because of the charity work in Tanzania where HIV rates are very high and anonimity is completely respected.
Q21: Can I remove parts of a necklace or necklace add-on you’ve made or take the charms off a charm bead necklace?
A: The answer is yes, we use a jump ring that you can open, here’s a video on how to open jump rings but you don’t need special equipment; you can use tweezers and/or fingers. It’s a good question and I’m going to add the answer to the listing and our FAQ’s!
Q22: *trigger* We lost our baby, can you help us?
A: We aren’t able to offer pro bono orders at the moment but please get in touch if you’d like to discuss a piece.
Q23: Hi, how ‘fresh’ does the milk need to be?
A: Not that fresh, I’d say about a week kept cool would still be ok. So long as it doesn’t smell too bad or it won’t be fun for us to work with. Milk that’s been frozen a decade is also good. Just leave it in the freezer until your kit arrives.
Q24: Are you a member of any professional guilds?
A: Yes, we are a member of The Guild of Jewellery Designers
and we have our own Maker’s Mark with the Birmingham Assay Office (known as the Tree of Opals hallmark)
We have applied to be allowed to use the Vegan logo from The Vegan Society and PETA.
Nic also runs the Breastmilk Jewellery Group on Facebook and mentors new artists in not just preserving breastmilk, but in setting the pieces in metal and designing contemporary jewellery. I’m not a trained bench jewellery (classic skills such as setting faceted stones) and I did start a jewellery course but after three sessions my husband was made redundant and I had to stop. The rest is learnt from YouTube and I get inspiration from other contemporary jewellers and artists.
Q25: Are you insured?
We’ve received your order but aren’t working on it right no’\
For more details on our artists and team please see the About Us page.
Contact our admin team here if you have any questions