As part of James Allen‘s recently launched but absolutely brilliant marketing push for millennial grooms, they teamed up with Buzzfeed to create the Engagement Ring Challenge, where both partners separately design an engagement ring using James Allen’s online bespoke design tools, and then compare.
The end results and reactions are cute, and only half predictable:
While online ring design tools are now quite commonplace in the market, this is surely one of those ideas that is probably making a lot of jewellery companies say “Now why didn’t I think of that?”
As a bonus, after the break I’ve also shared James Allen’s hilarious jewellery advert that’s making the rounds now on Youtube:
A few weeks ago the Economist ran a briefing on 3D printing and it’s effects on mass production, alongside an equally good leader article. While it is general in its nature, there are elements in the article about jewellery manufacturing.
Overall, the article both provides a current snapshot of the readily available state of the art in rapid manufacturing, as well as introducing to the general public how current trends in 3D printing are affecting the way commercial and industrial goods are manufactured. They’ve even mentioned in passing a commonly reiterated point about 3D printing’s particular strength in the area of small scale mass production versus using traditional mass production on short product runs.
I’m listing it here as a useful reference for those jewellery CAD/CAM users who may want somewhere to start when communicating to others what the fuss is about with 3D printing.
For years we’ve been gradually seeing the growth of more and more websites which attempt to provide a connection between CAD modellers and customers in need of their services. Whether it is being driven by the propagation of 3D printers, a greater number of creatives trying to start their own businesses, or simply a growing interest in personalised consumer goods, it is clear there is a steadily growing demand for creative CAD services. The question is where do these new digital middlemen fit in between the 3D modeller and the customer.
In a previous article we talked about the different ways in which CAD is being used by jewellers to interact with their customers. For this article, I’m going to look at the market from the other direction, and explore ways in which jewellery CAD designers can offer their skills to the wider market.
Back in January, Bre Pettis (founder and former CEO of MakerBot) launched his own boutique 3D printed product brand called Bre & Co.
Their site and presentation is a fascinating study in ways to make 3D printed products appeal as a premium product to the current 25-35 year old middle income consumer market. It also shows what a website would look like when an artisan boutique is created to sell mostly or fully 3D printed retail products.
This marks an interesting evolution in the development of the CAD/CAM and 3D printing in the jewellery market. While we have talked about how CAD/CAM is portrayed to customers in the jewellery market before, it seems we are now seeing several distinctly different business strategies evolve which use 3D printing as a key component not only for manufacturing, but also for retail presentation. Each of these strategies shows how CAD/CAM is used and presented in a different target market.
It seems even with old-fashioned fine jewellery techniques, innovation is still possible.
With their new Merveilles collection, Swiss jeweller Boghossian has unveiled an entirely new diamond setting technique they call merveilles setting. Within this setting, the surrounding stones play as much a part in holding the diamonds in position as the metal itself.
See for yourself:
Not too long ago, the 3D Printing Industry Blog released their own list of best choices for commercial 3D printing services where you can release your 3D jewellery CAD models for others to purchase and 3D print.
Right now, it does seem like we are seeing a bit of an uncertain time for the jewellery industry. Every retailer is shifting their attention increasingly online, and while nearly all of the major jewellery manufacturers have embraced CAD, how they’re choosing use technology in their interactions with customers is still very much undecided. Within this uncertainty rests how CAD and 3D printing to order will sit within either fashion or fine jewellery.
At the moment, 3D printing marketplaces have become a kind of digital equivalent of the craft market, with free-wheeling designers using the established platforms as a way of getting attention and money for their talents. Like the old fashioned equivalent, these online marketplaces seem to be helpful for newcomers to get more of a feel for their target audiences.
As TCT Magazine recently reported, recent Birmingham School of Jewellery graduate Rebecca Wilkes has been experimenting with full colour nylon SLS printing for producing 3D printed jewellery. With the help of the nylon 3D printers at Digits2Widgets, she has been garnering attention at trade shows for her collection of wearable objects with interchangeable components.
I have to say, it’s nice to see a new generation of students taking chances in seeing how far they can push 3D printed materials as an end product. While the materials aren’t perfect, this work proves that if you can find the right product, 3D printing itself is a viable manufacturing medium for products.