3D printing is one of the biggest growth areas in technology at the moment. It has been used in the fashion industry for quite some time now, for things like prototyping shoes and other accessories, but recently it has actually begun to become accessible to end consumers and amateur designers, as well as people working in the design and development departments of large fashion brands.
3D Printing and Amateur Jewelry Design
Jewelry is an area where fashion is really starting to take notice of 3D printing. As jewelry making and jewelry design was already a pretty popular hobby for a lot of people, the possibilities that 3D printing brings to hobbyist designers to make their ideas into real, tangible objects without the need for lots of tools or specialist skills are immense. If a person is very serious about making their own jewelry and wants to use materials like plastic to create cool, quirky pieces, they can invest in their own 3D printer, or take their designs to a local 3D print shop. For those who just want to dabble in 3D printed jewelry and see where it takes them, there is the option to join a community like Trove, where they can choose from other users’ designs, submit their own, and customize existing designs to create unique pieces they can then have printed to order.
Starting at $50, Trove’s jewelry is customized on the website and then delivered to you before you buy it in 3D-printed plastic, so you can check out the design before committing (and revise the size/design if necessary). Once you’re happy, you select your metal and make any final tweaks and Trove will ship you a truly unique piece of jewelry.
This makes jewelry design a viable hobby even for people who don’t want to buy a lot of tools and materials or learn techniques like soldering – all you need to get started is a basic grasp of CAD software!
3D Printing and High End Jewelry
It is not just amateur jewelry designers who are using the 3D printing revolution to get their hands on unique pieces. High end jewelers like AmericanPearl and AmericanDiamondShop are using 3D printing technology to allow their customers to design their own bespoke jewelry in precious metals and stones – including pieces worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course, the 3D printer can’t make diamonds for you, but by selecting the exact size and design of the metal and settings, it is possible to 3D print a mold that your chosen metal is poured into to form the jewelry, into which the stones you have chosen in the cut you picked are set by professional jewelers. All of this takes a lot of the manpower out of creating unique high end jewelry, allowing pieces to be delivered to customers mere days after they were designed and for a lower price than when all of the crafting is done by hand.
3D Printing in Metal
Rather than using this technique with molds, it may soon become the norm for jewelry to be 3D printed directly in the metal of choice. This technology already exists, and is becoming cheaper all the time, to the point where it may soon become accessible to many more jewelry businesses.
The growth of 3D printing in the jewelry industry is an interesting thing to see, and it is likely that in just a few years, almost all of our jewelry at all price points, from fun plastic jewelry for little girls through to lavish engagement rings, will have had this technology involved in some or all of its creation.