Is 3D Printing the Future of Jewelry Making?
The art of jewelry has always been characterized by the uniqueness of the artist designing it. The soul of the artistry is preserved in a piece of jewelry by the tiny imperfections imprinted upon it. Handcrafted, detail oriented and meticulously methodical, part of the sentiment of owning jewelry has been the fact that there’s no other piece on earth quite like it. But with the emergence of 3D Printing that whole world has changed.
Developed in 1984, 3D printing is now becoming widely distributed amongst manufacturers as a quick- and highly efficient- way to autonomously create identical replicated models. The technology uses a process commonly referred to as “CAD” or “Computer Aided Design” imprinting the dimensions provided by a digital blueprint. Essentially a company could directly print gold or other precious metals directly into their mould based off an uploaded design and the jewelry would pop out, for lack of a better word, perfect. But there lays the controversy. Does introducing the possibility of perfect replicas diminish the value of a piece of jewelry?
Unsurprisingly, there’s a wide amount of skepticism. “The public have a romantic vision of craftsmen making everything by hand; part of that romance is taken away with the availability of [3D Printing] technology,” says designer Shaun Lane. But designers who use the technology argue that the artisan and craftsmanship components of jewelry making are actually enhanced by the presence of 3D printing. “3D technology is a tool to help interpret a complicated design” states purchasing and development director of Chanel George Amer. Although he admitted to Chanel’s use of 3D, he explains that it's use is minimal and it is the only exception. “We encourage the development of the best traditional jewellery-making skills by asking our craftsmen to be able to create a piece entirely by hand” says Amer.
But there are more enthusiastic voices who advocate that if the potential to create perfection exists, why not utilize it to maximize quality? Raymond Graff, director at Graff is among these enthusiasts who believes that 3D printing still retains the artistic process of jewelry making while putting out a much higher quality product. “The machine has helped us to push the boundaries and make more complicated pieces than we would have done otherwise,” exclaims Graff.
As an experiment, AcePicked has just launched their own line of customizable 3D printed jewelry pieces entitled M-Lab. What's really awesome about these designs is that you can take your favorite sound bites from movies, TV shows, songs or even morse code and imprint the physical sound wave onto your jewelry piece. Each piece comes fully customizable in silver, gold, rose gold or yellow gold articulately printed by our own 3D printer!
It’s a tough cookie to crack because of the designer’s long held role in traditional jewelry making. Does the arrival of new technologies threaten what we’ve long appreciated about jewelry design or are we paving the way for an exponential growth in the potential jewelry? We might never come to an agreement, but the emergence of 3D printing certainly means to redefine our capabilities as designers.
*All quotes are taken from an interview conducted by the telegraph.