Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Notices

Here is our September Newsletter. Our Christmas cutoff for glass cremation ash jewellery only is 21st November 2018 for delivery mid December, we must receive the ash by the 28th. Please note that our Christmas deadline for all other pieces has now passed (resin jewellery, lock of hair and breastmilk, all rings etc).
Nikki x

Call 0117 329 2197 if you need help (not always available – I’m a parent!) 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” or “doing”.
A: We can’t offer ETA’s/progress reports etc. You can check your order status right here. We update orders by changing their status to organise them. If there are no updates on your account that means there’s no new informatio; please do not ask because we don’t want to disappoint you. We are working on orders that were placed before yours or are ready because they require less work, and when yours is ready we will update the account. We ask clients not to ask for updates as it makes the process longer for everybody, you will be directed here. We’re grateful for everyone’s patience and are working as hard as we can.. If you ordered before October then your order will be sent for Christmas by mid December.
Q1.1: How do I log into my account?
A: Just go to My Account to log in. If you need your password reset please email info.treeofopals@gmail.com 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.
Q1.2: I’m logged in but it’s showing no orders. Where is it?
A: You’ve probably just created a new account, perhaps with your Facebook. Just let us know the email addresses you use and we will delete the new account so you can log in on the existing one. Once you’re logged in, you can link your Facebook if you like.

Q2: Have you received my…?
A: We don’t inform clients individually when we receive elements such as milk/ash/hair etc. We will mark your order as “elements received” within a few days of their arrival. This is delayed sometimes if you have sent recorded/signed delivery as the posties usually come during the school run and parcels are taken back to the delivery office. To avoid this, please post your items without signed delivery where possible (eg. large letter first class). To check your account please see above, you can find out more about order statuses on Q9 below.

Q3: How do I send you my elements, breastmilk/ash/hair/cord etc?
A: Please allow a few weeks for us to send you a kit which contains instructions, here is the Sending Elements page with details on sending which you must read. Joanna has just had a baby and is sending out kits a little less regularly but this doesn’t affect your place in the queue. If you would rather not wait for the kit you can get in touch for instructions and the address to send to but we are unable to refund the kit.

Q4.1:How long do orders take?
A: Existing orders are taking around four to six months at the moment, although our official lead ties are stated in our T’s and C’s. Some orders may take just two months, glass orders can be weeks. If you need an order by a certain date this must be agreed upon and authorised in advance, see our jewellery deadlines page here (unavailable at the moment). If you decide you’re unhappy about the wait of an existing order, please let us know why you need your order sooner. Please bear in mind that we have a lot of memorial orders for other clients that are patiently waiting for their jewellery and this information was clearly stated in the terms and conditions that everyone agrees to twice when they order.

Q4.2: Why this long?
A: Our pieces are very sought-after and every piece is handmade from scratch with many stages, involving collaboration with several artists, metalsmiths, engravers and hallmarking. All of our team work as hard as possible, but we are all parents and our children come before anything else (three of us are breastfeeding!). We try to check each piece with clients by sending a proof photo where possible to make sure you like the colours before your piece is set in metal (if you have colour or there are variations) and you can see our blog here about the extra cabochons. Our CEO, Nikki, has chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression. If the wait is a problem then please let us know before you order and we will recommend another artist. We do not hide how long our orders take and when you agree to our terms and conditions twice on the checkout page, you are agreeing to the wait. Our glass cremation ash jewellery is usually a lot quicker because our glass artist, Gail, is a retiree and none of these pieces need metalsmithing, hallmarking or engraving.

Q5: Can I order in time for someone’s birthday/wedding/holidays? What is your Christmas deadline?
A: Order deadlines for weddings and events are unavailable until 2019 again, we are very sorry. We have electronic gift certificates that are emailed and we give you the code, you can choose it to be sent on recycled high quality cardstock on the checkout. Usually, orders take around four to six months. We did guarantee orders for Christmas/Hanukkah/Yule this year and the cutoff date was 30th September for dispatch by 12th December – you must have mentioned the holiday required for on your order for it to be guaranteed. Our Christmas cutoff for glass cremation ash jewellery is 21st November 2018 for delivery mid December, we must receive the ash by the 28th. Please note that our Christmas deadline for all other pieces has now passed (resin jewellery, lock of hair and breastmilk, all rings). If you’re looking for a keepsake sooner then please contact 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 (a proof photo) to see which they prefer. Sometimes if we’ve just made a a piece we’re really excited about we might send a client a sneak preview. It’s not our normal practice to send a photo. We try to check each piece with clients by sending a proof photo where possible to make sure you like the colours before your piece is set in metal (if you have colour or there are variations) and you can see our blog here about the extra cabochons.

Q7: I paid and sent in my elements and I haven’t heard a thing back?
A: Your account will be updated which you can check by logging in. When we update an order an email is sent automatically, however, 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 info@treeofopals.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: What do the order statuses mean?
A: Each order has a status. Order statuses let you know how far along the order is, starting with Pending and ending with Complete. The following order statuses are used:

Pending payment – Order received (unpaid)
Failed – Payment failed or was declined (unpaid). Note that this status may not show immediately and instead show as Pending until verified (i.e., PayPal)
Kit to be sent – Joanna will be posting a kit usually within a week
Waiting for Elements – we haven’t received your elements back yet. If you don’t get your kit, let us know and we’ll send another one
Elements received – We’ve received your elements and they’re awaiting labels
Processing – Payment received and the order is awaiting fulfillment. All product orders require processing, except those that are Digital and Downloadable. The artist will be given your elements and work on your piece
Urgent – We know you’ve been waiting a while so we’ve put you at the top of our list. Urgent orders are our priority
Ready to send – your order is complete and is awaiting tracking info
Completed – Order fulfilled and complete – requires no further action
On-Hold – Awaiting payment – stock is reduced, but you need to confirm payment
Cancelled – Cancelled by an admin or the customer – no further action required (Cancelling an order does not affect stock quantity by default)
Refunded – Refunded by an admin – no further action required

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: See Q2 for more info. 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 entire 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. We urge people not to try it unless they are doing so as a self-taught professional and are realistic with their expectations, or purchase a DIY kit from a reputable seller. 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.”
Nic Kamminga

cremation ash cabochons both with water clear resin: ashes vary like sand, showing beautiful natural colour and size variations

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 but we do offer discounts, 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
The Guild of Jewellery Designers member and have our insurance with them, and we have our own Maker’s Mark with the Birmingham Assay Office (known as the Tree of Opals hallmark).

14ct gold ring hallmarked with the Tree of Opals maker's mark
14ct gold ring hallmarked with the Tree of Opals maker’s mark

We are on the PETA UK and Australia vegan fashion and apparel lists.
Nikki 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?
A: Yes. Here’s our certificate.

For more details on our artists and team please see the About Us page.

Contact our admin team here if you have any questions

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