Ubiquitous conventional jewelry pieces that adorn the shelves of jewelers may soon be a thing of past. Advancements and increased uptake of 3D printing technology in the Gems & Jewelry industry is metamorphosing the way jewelry is manufactured and sold. As jewelry becomes more personal, consumers are looking for tailor-made options that reflect their identity and the choice of 3D Printed Jewelry fulfils their needs.
3D Printed Jewelry offers a string of benefits, for both jewelers and consumers:
- Huge cost and labor savings translating into cheaper operations
- Reduced cost of product development
- Manufacturing in real time
- Faster production and shipping
- No/ Less Inventory
- High level of precision and no human errors resulting in better and consistent quality
- Product portfolio expansion
- Increased productivity – A Jeweler was able to increase his productivity by as much as 200% using 3D printers including Envision Tec, RapidShape
- Low cost of technology – Inexpensive 3D printers for as low as USD 249 (Micro 3D – costing less than an iPhone) are also available. However some experts caution against their later high operational costs.
- Innovation and Value-add to business
- More engagement with customers, especially in a time of stiff competition from other luxury goods and declining preference of consumers towards jewelry
- Personalized and customized jewelry – Many of the 3D Printed Jewelry providers enable consumers to add unique messages, personalized info, own face shapes on jewelry and let them custom design their pieces using DYO (Design Your Own) Jewelry concept.
- Cheaper Jewelry – American Pearl sold a USD 105,000 3D printed Diamond necklace to a tech entrepreneur, which would have otherwise cost, at retailers like Tiffany’s, a steep USD 250,000 onwards price tag. In cases of smaller and simpler items, the price difference can be even more than 20 times than a traditional wax prototype.
Usage of 3D Printing technology for Jewelry, however, is still coming of age. The most obvious method one associates with 3D Printed Jewelry is direct printing using techniques like laser sintering, but it is currently limited to few players. At the moment, many companies are using 3D technology to print casts for jewelry production or to create replica models in wax/ other materials. Some companies like Midas Diamond Jewelers use 3D technology for designing and visualization purposes only, with the idea that consumers should be able to visualize and customize beforehand how their diamond engagement ring will look like. Besides much of the 3D Printed Jewelry is currently fashion jewelry with limited precious stones and metals usage.
Although there are numerous companies who are not only using precious and semi-precious stones and metals including diamonds, rubies, emeralds, gold, silver etc. to create bespoke 3D Printed Jewelry but also offering personalized services to consumers. Morpheus, for instance, gives options where consumers can either 1) upload a photo, connect with Morpheus designers who will create 3D models based on photo and consumer needs, jewelry design will be finalized and then 3D printed or 2) consumer can simply select a 3D Printed Jewelry piece from their collection.
Some of the key players in 3D Printed Jewelry segment are:
- Polychemy – Singapore based – Offers nameplate necklaces, sports logo pendants etc. among 40+ customizable jewelry designs, with price range of USD 100 – 250. Having launched a new platform for personalized services, its USP lies in using the Big Data to understand what customers are really looking for.
- American Pearl / AmericanDiamondShop.com – New York based – Offers host of 3D Printed Jewelry including Earrings, Necklaces etc, with price range of USD 400 to 6-figure.
- Jaubalet – Paris based – Offers luxury pieces
- Jewel District – South Korea based – Currently does production work for individual designers but plans to launch its own marketplace
- Stilnest – Germany based – works with 37 designers who have created a portfolio of 100+ pieces. It was in the news recently for successfully raising USD ~1 million funding.
- Matter.io – formed by a team of engineers from MIT and Cornell University
- Ola Jewelry – Belgium based – Mostly into fashion jewelry, distributed in over 10 countries in 50+ stores
- Aurobliss – India based – Own face can be set in gold and casted in pendants/ gold frames, using 3D Imaging technology
- Zazzy – Amsterdam based – focuses on DYO concept
- Kalevala – Finland – Offers Cuffs, Pendants, Rings etc., in association with Launzer – 3D printing startup and i.materialise – Belgian 3D printing company
- Wonderluk – UK based – Offers bracelets, brooches, earrings, necklaces, rings etc.
- Cubify – Mostly into fashion jewelry, with focus on art and design
- Sara Pocius Jewelry (previously Sea Pony Studio) – LA based – Offers beaded jewelry, stainless steel pendant
- LACE – by Jenny Wu – works with Stratasys 3D printing for her collection
- La Protofusione – Italy based
Apart from these players, several brick-and-mortar as well as online retailers are offering 3D Printed Jewelry. Shapeways, a 3D Printed items marketplace has abundance of 3D Printed Jewelry on its portal, some of them of high-quality materials including 14K Gold and Platinum. Last year, Amazon announced to sell 3D Printed items including Jewelry on its site. Similarly, Hema, a Dutch department store is going to sell personalized 3D printed jewelry. Nieman Marcus, a US retailer, added limited edition of 3D Printed Jewelry to its online stock in 2013.
The progress in 3D printing for Jewelry is being enabled by several solution providers, including:
- Cookson Precious Metals –EOS Precious M080 3D printer
- Solidscape – A Stratasys subsidiary, offering T076 3D printer
- 3D Systems
- 3DZ Group – offering ProJet 1200 for USD 5,000, aimed for low volume, high-quality casting patterns
- VR 3D Jewelry – CAD rendering and visualization of finished products
- Micro 3D
- MakerBot – aimed at small businesses, supported by Windows 8.1 OS
- Envision Tec
Popularity of 3D Printed Jewelry is certainly on rise and foreseeing the need of designers to equip themselves with necessary skills, several colleges and institutions like Metallonobile and Glasgow Clyde College have started to offer 3D Jewelry design courses.
Moreover, Design Museum Boston, in partnership with Society of North American Goldsmiths is organizing ‘Rapid Jewelry’ – a 3D Jewelry Design competition for designers who are best using 3D prining technology to drive jewelry fashion. Applications are open till April 3 and finalists will be able to get their work showcased in a national fashion show, exhibitions and retail stores. Last year too, similar competition was held, which was presented by CGTrader.
Designer Kimberly Ovitz showcased 3D Printed Jewelry at Fall/Winter 2013 runway and then immediately sold them on Shapeways, costing from USD 35 Ear Cuff to USD 250 Necklace.
Even though, 3D Printed Jewelry may be in its nascent stage now, going by the developments and growth, it is set to soon take the Jewelry market by storm and change the game.