Mama Metal Babywearing Jewelry | Jewelry Feature | Seashore Design Studio | Ilana Mele


This fine silver jewelry is handmade by Ilana Mele at Seashore Design Studio. Ilana creates jewelry with strength, beauty, and durability. Seashore Design Studio offers heirloom, quality mix-and-match silver jewelry, suitable for everyday wear, and strong enough to be reliably enjoyed by caretakers of young children.

Ilana shared this regarding her jewelry strength: “Most of my pieces are mama metal suitable. All the centerpieces are, and the bracelet is pretty strong. Earrings I don’t  consider ‘mama metal’, because I dislike when my daughter grabs my earrings. I will usually note if a centerpiece is finer gauge, or a chain is less suited to ‘mama metal’ strength.”

Please see this page for more information about “Mama Metal.”

Seashore Design Studio – ilana mele



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In this post, we feature Loveknot Pendant, Dual Drops Centerpiece, Infinity Nape Charm, and Gemstone Accent Double-Clasp Chain.

The models appearing in the photos are showcasing a little of what motherhood is all about, both the happiness and the challenge!

To purchase these items, visit our shop! Or visit the shop of Seashore Design Studio for additional items.

Full disclosure – a percentage of the sales price of items sold on our site, is retained by us, with the bulk of it being paid to the artisan. Items sold directly by the artisan through their Etsy shop or website, does NOT earn a commission to our site. If you like this jewelry piece, you can help us keep our website running by purchasing from us! If you don’t like this piece, but enjoy this artisan’s work, check out her shop!

Each metalworking artisan has a different flair, even though the basic shapes may be similar. They are finished and polished in different manners, creating an entirely different final appearance.

These charms and centerpiece links have rounded edges, and a curvy, round shape. There is a little texturing to the metal on all sides. It is a milder texture overall than others I have seen – just hints here and there. The thickness of the shape and texture were consistent across all the shapes. The links have an overall classy, elegant feel in shape, texture, and structure. They are polished to a brilliant glossy shine.  The heart has lovely curves and a slightly dimple-shaped pointed tip – a unique and cheery interpretation of a heart shape.

The thickness of wire used to make the chain links, and the structure of how it is attached to the clasps, are designed by the artisan to withstand the tugs of children. It may not be truly unbreakable, as some children are quite strong. One goal of “mama metal” jewelry is to be strong enough for moms of little ones. My own son has broken nearly all the costume jewelry pieces I wore around him, so I have stopped wearing jewelry all together, until discovering “mama metal” jewelry. I have been excited to discover jewelry that could withstand his determined strength! Should a child still manage to break this jewelry, the artisan stands behind their work, and would likely repair or replace it.



The bulk of the Loveknot pendant is three interlinked rings. This is a simple and popular motif in chainmaille, often referred to as a mobius, rosette, or love knot. The piece is made of 14 gauge fine silver that is fused, textured and polished. Loveknot can be worn in many variations. The most basic are as a pendant, or with a chain threaded through the teardrop link, or horizontally on a double-clasp chain with one clasp clipped to the teardrop and one to the heart.

The Loveknot pendant has a total of six shapes composing it. A heart, the loveknot (three symmetrical circles), a small circle holding the loveknot together, and a drop. Since there are many shapes, it can be worn in a wide variety of ways. Changing the configuration makes the piece seem almost new again. It would certainly help with “jewelry boredom” to be able to hang the piece any number of ways, making it appear fresh every time.

The action photos show a variety of ways to configure the centerpieces. We created each of these configurations by changing which link of the centerpiece the clasps connect to. We also configured some with the chain going through the centerpiece like a normal necklace. In those cases, we either clipped the two clasps together behind the neck, or clipped them to the infinity nape charm.

14 gauge.
Fine silver.
Fused, textured, polished.
2″ long.



The dual drops charm set or centerpiece is a simple combination of a smaller and larger droplet shape.

The Drops centerpiece is delicate and simple. If creating “meaning” to jewelry were important, these could be used to represent breastfeeding, tears (joyful or sorrowful), waterbirth, or any other meaning the wearer feels is important. Or, it could simply be a pretty shape to wear.

14 gauge.
Fine silver.
Fused, textured, polished.
1.5″ long



Nape charms are available in a number of shapes and are an easy way to convert a double clasp chain to a standard chain. This nape charm is an infinity shape. Nape charms can extend the length of the chain slightly, or be used with a long chain to double it up and shorten it. We also demonstrate it used as a mini centerpiece. We even wrapped the chain around the wrist, using the infinity, to create a delicate bracelet!

The infinity nape charm is a simple figure eight. We were able to use it in a variety of ways – creating a charm accent to the chain when worn as a bracelet, as its own petite centerpiece, and as a one-inch length chain extender when worn at the back of the neck. It can also be used to connect two shorter chains at the back of the neck, creating the appearance of one longer chain. It was quite a versatile piece that I found myself inventing new ways to use in configuring the chain and charms.

14 gauge.
Fine silver.
Fused, textured, polished.
3/4″ long.



The flat cable chain, clasps and findings are sterling silver with hand wire-wrapped blue agate bead accents. Each piece of wire is wrapped and pressed with utmost care to ensure no pesky ends make trouble. The chain is made from 3.7mm sterling silver and is 16 1/4″ long from tip to tip of the clasps. Both sides of the chain end in a lobster clasp, allowing it to be used with many centerpieces or charms, in various configurations. The gemstones are spaced every two inches along the length of the chain. There are no jump rings.

The gemstone accent chain is polished and shiny. The flattened chain links reflect light, creating a lovely sparkle. The agate beads are a medium tone of blue, almost a “jeans” blue. They are translucent, allowing light to shimmer through them.  The beads are attached with delicate twisted wire loops. The beads occur approximately every two inches. The clasps are medium size, and clip to the centerpiece links with ease. They are also able to be clipped onto the chain itself, for example to wear the chain as a bracelet, or to adjust the length of the chain.

Flat cable chain.
Sterling silver.
Blue agate bead accents.
Clasps and findings – Sterling silver and hand-wire wrapped.
16 1/4″ long (also available in 20″ length)

This is a flat cable chain – which means it is made of simple “cable” links, that have been flattened on one side. Each link has an oval shape. We used a digital jewelry caliper to measure the chain links and findings.

.41 mm Chain link thickness flattened side
.62mm Chain link thickness rounded side (comparable to approximately 23 gauge)
3.64mm Chain link diameter width
4.70mm Chain link diameter length

.52mm Thickness of wire used for wire-wrapping of findings and gemstone sections (approximately 25 gauge)

5.95mm Clasp diameter width
11.3mm Clasp diameter length



This jewelry arrived packaged in small cardboard box, tied with ribbon and accented with a seashell-shaped bead. Also included was a small, flexible piece of plastic, with instructions for using it to help avoid tarnish to the jewelry.




Ilana was kind enough to be interviewed for our post. Please enjoy a peek at her work, art, and life!  These images of Ilana were taken by her husband (not Carefree Cocoon).


CC: You mentioned the word “chainmaille” in your description of the loveknot portion of the pendant. Could you elaborate on this word?

IM: Chainmaille is a technique where individual rings are connected to create a larger piece. There are many weaves and patterns. These days it is largely used to make jewelry, but chainmaille originated as a type of armor which dates back thousands of years. It was widely used through the high middle ages, until a point when plate armor became the armor of choice. Maille armor was effective against slices, but not so much piercing or blunt force. Maille is a widely used term, as well as chainmaille. Maille can be made of nearly any metal that can be made into a circle. The ends are usually either butted or riveted, though they can be soldered or fused for jewelry. A lot of colorful maille jewelry available is anodized aluminum, which is strong, but very lightweight.


CC: Tell us about your family. Significant other? Children’s names and ages?

IM: I live with my husband Frank and my little girl Lily, who will be 2 this summer.


CC: Where are you currently located?

IM: West Babylon, New York. We are on the south shore of Long Island.


CC: How do you pronounce your name?

IM: ih la nuh. This seems like a silly thing to note, but my name is ilana – people often think it’s two L’s rather than an i.


CC: Tell us about your work space. Do you create items in your home? A separate studio?

IM: My husband and I have a shared home office which doubles as my studio. We each have a computer desk and bookshelves. I have a workbench where I keep my fusing/soldering station, pickle pot and supplies. I do a lot of crafts, so the room is pretty packed with art and craft supplies.


CC: What is your best time of day to get work done?

IM: It depends. Sometimes I work after my daughter goes to sleep. Her daytime naps are brief, so my best bet is catching her in a good mood and working while she plays in the office with me. She likes to copy me, so I sometimes give her my rubber mallet, benchplate and some scrap pieces and let her “work”.




CC: Anything special about your business name? 

IM: I’ve always loved the scallop shell design and have used it as a personal marker for many years. Living close to the ocean and identifying with this seashell design, Seashore Design Studio just seemed to make sense.


CC: How long have you been in business as an artisan? Making mama metal? 

IM: I have only been making mama metal style jewelry since September 2015. Previously I ran a little jewelry design business which I officially opened in 2007, though I was casually making jewelry prior. I did mostly custom sculpted items and got to ship to 30 countries! It became too labor intensive once my daughter was born and I have since move on from that project. I have also worked as a production assistant for a handmade jewelry company which is stocked in stores around the globe. This gave me an opportunity to get into the swing of bulk production without ever compromising quality.


CC: What drew you to enter this field of work?

IM: I’ve always been interested in actual metalwork but never got around to it until now. I consider this the next step in my jewelry making journey.


CC: How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?

IM: I seem to be drawn to simple, organic shapes with meaning. I love pieces that have great flow and movement, which can be interpreted different by different people. Most pieces I make of my own design (as opposed to custom designs) are not very pictorial; instead they rely on basic design elements.


CC: What mediums do you work with?

IM: My centerpieces are largely 14 gauge fine silver, with other gauges sometimes used for accents. Chains and associated findings are sterling silver. I add small gemstones and pearls to some chains.




CC: What inspires you in your creative work? 

IM: There’s no one thing that inspires me. Sometimes it’s my daughter or something I see, something in nature, or something that just pops into my head!


CC: How has your work / practice / design changed over time?

IM: I’ve increased in skill and I’ve gotten used to the finer points of metal design the more I’ve practiced. I’ve begun looking more at the mechanics of a piece and how it will move, rather than first flush aesthetics.


CC: What kind of experience do you want a viewer or user of your art to walk away with?

IM: My hope is that customers will enjoy a well-crafted piece of wearable art that makes them feel good and can be worn for years to come. For moms of young children or other caretakers, it’s that pretty piece that makes you feel fancy even when you’re at your most casual. These can be worn long after the little ones have outgrown them as a sweet reminder. For others, it’s a fun and stylish mix-and-match option that can be tailored to your moods and needs. I love the versatility of these pieces and I hope that wearers can appreciate how many things can be done with them.


CC: What risks have you taken in your work, and what has been at stake?

IM: I’m actually very shy, and it’s always been a struggle to share my work. Even things that I really am proud of, I shy away from sharing publicly (this makes face to face sales REALLY hard for me). This has helped me come out of my shell a bit.


CC: Fill in the blank: Motherhood is _________.

IM: Awesome. Being a mom isn’t always easy, but I really like it. I love spending time with my little sidekick.


CC: How has being a mother changed you?

IM: I think that it has amplified a lot of my qualities. It’s also given me a very real sense of perspective, and helped me see “the bigger picture”.


CC: What is something your daughter has taught you?

IM: Lily has taught me to go with the flow. I’m very much a planner, and I appreciate precision. Trying to work from home with her has given me the best and worst of both worlds. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but I’ve had to let go of preconceived notions and constraints and go with the flow. So far, we’re doing pretty well.


CC: What does your daughter do that makes you laugh?

IM: With less than 20 words and a few ASL signs, my daughter is a very, very good communicator. She cracks me up with the details she notices, mimics and communicates. Also, her laugh is infectious. Even when she’s being difficult, if she’s laughing about it, it’s very hard not to laugh myself.


CC: What is one piece of advice on motherhood that has helped you?

IM: Before my daughter was born, I was talking with a friend about things I wanted to do. She looked at me and said, “Let your child be your teacher.” I thought that was very powerful. Looking back, I see exactly what she meant. Every child is different, and by following my daughter’s lead I’ve been able to build a very strong, trusting relationship. We are able to stay quite in tune with each other.


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