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A Beginner's Guide to 3D Printed Jewelry

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3D printing is everywhere, but it still feels a bit like science fiction.

You’ve likely heard of 3D printing or seen it used on TV (3D printed organs on Grey’s Anatomy, anyone?). Maybe you even have access to a 3D printer at school or work. But have you considered 3D printed jewelry?

Many designers and jewelers have adopted this technology and are taking jewelry design to a whole new level.

How 3D Printing Works

3D printing isn't as futuristic and complex as it sounds. In the most basic terms, to print something in 3D, you simply layer whatever material you're working with over and over until it creates the shape you desire.

 

Designing 3D Printed Jewelry

Before 3D printing, designers created wax molds by hand - like this.

While some designers prefer this hands-on approach, others have taken to digital design for their creative outlet.

Jewelry designers like Nervous System are using 3D printing to create truly custom jewelry pieces.

Here's how it works:

1. Designers create a 3D model out of wax.

2. The wax mold is then encased in a plaster-like substance called investment.

3. The investment is then heated to extreme temperatures, creating an impression.

4. The impression is then filled with liquid precious metal to create the jewelry item.

The end result is something like this:

3D Printed Jewelry - Engagement Ring

Photo courtesy: Nervous System

 

How You Can Take Advantage of 3D Printed Jewelry

Whether the cost savings or the customization possibilities appeal to you, there are several ways you can utilize 3D printing in your next jewelry shopping endeavor.

Buy Ready-to-Wear Jewelry

Several designers sell 3D printed jewelry, such as these found on Etsy and i.materialise. These items are printed in finished material, like silver or gold, and are ready to wear, usually at a great price.

Four Strand Braided Ring

Photo courtesy: i.materialise

 

Design Your Own and Have it Printed

Companies like Hot Pop Factory and Shapeways allow you to design your own piece of art, or work with one of their talented designers to do so. They then use their 3D printers to create your custom piece.

With unlimited resources, what would you choose to create?

Use 3D Printing to Design Traditional Jewelry

Maybe 3D printed jewelry feels too inauthentic. You still want a traditional ring with handmade craftsmanship, but you want it to be unique. Why not use 3D printing as part of your custom design process?

Your local jeweler may already be equipped with 3D printing technology that can create a wax mold you can actually try on.

This way, you may realize you don’t like how the ring looks on your hand, or perhaps the band is too thick. By seeing the item beforehand, you may be able to make important changes to your design before it is set in stone (pun intended).

Ask your jeweler if 3D printing can be part of your custom design process.

 

   

 

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About Jewelers Mutual Group

Jewelers Mutual was founded in 1913 by a group of Wisconsin jewelers to meet their unique insurance needs. Later, consumers began putting their trust in Jewelers Mutual to protect their jewelry and the special memories each piece holds. Today, Jewelers Mutual continues to support and move the industry forward by listening to jewelers and consumers and offering products and services to meet their evolving needs. Beyond insurance, Jewelers Mutual’s powerful suite of innovative solutions and digital technology offerings help jewelers strengthen and grow their businesses, mitigate risk, and bring them closer to their customers. The Group insurers’ strong financial position is reflected in their 37 consecutive “A+ Superior” ratings from AM Best Company, as of November 2023. Policyholders of the Group insurers are members of Jewelers Mutual Holding Company. Jewelers Mutual is headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, with other Group offices in Dallas, Texas and Miami, Florida. To learn more, visit JewelersMutual.com.