As technology continues to advance, 3D printing has become popular in society as more than just a high-tech fad, but a useful tool for businesses and consumers. In the jewelry industry especially, 3D modeling and printing technology has raised the bar for creating custom designs and involving customers in the entire process, from concept to creation. When it comes to choosing the right engagement ring, it can be tough to find the perfect one at most jewelry stores, especially large chains. Despite the fact that these large chains state they have the best in pricing for diamond jewelry and have massive advertising, their prices are actually fairly expensive given the quality of their diamonds is not very high quality. Furthermore, large chains are focused more on sales, rather than customer service and customers can miss out on the most significant service that small jewelers offer: custom design. With custom design, jewelers use modeling software and 3D printing technology to create unique, custom one-of-a-kind designs. 3D printed jewelry is so popular, especially in a world of mass-production, because it’s personal and fully customized. The sentimental value increases exponentially when customers are able to put in their own ideas and be involved in the process, adding much sentimental value to something that is already pretty sentimental. In almost all customs and cultures, engagement and wedding rings have a significant place in society. Rings are meant to be special and meaningful and that meaning can be taken away when the ring isn’t just right, and especially when it’s a cookie-cutter design that a store just orders and re-orders again and again. With the rise of affordable desktop modeling software, many jewelers and jewelry designers are implementing 3D printing as a way to project and prototype jewelry before final casting and setting. Popular 3D modeling software includes the likes of Maya, Rhino, Matrix,
and CAD. From the initial sketches, designers can create 3D digital renderings, choosing everything from the setting (gold, platinum, etc.) to the stone shape (oval, round, cushion, etc.) as well as the number of prongs, and different styles of color, size, setting, and details such as milgrain or engraving. The customer is able to see the overall design and see how it compares when one or more aspects of the design are tweaked. For example, the customer may have decided on a standard cushion-cut halo design, but they want pave-set diamonds along with the band and they’re interested in seeing it in both yellow gold and white gold setting. Using the software, the customers can see how the two designs compare before committing to a final design. At any point during this step of the process, customers have the freedom to change the design and ensure the final design is truly what they want in their engagement ring. Also during the modeling stage, there are several design elements that the professional jeweler will help with, such as sizing and upsizing the minimize the effect of shrinkage during casting or adjusting bandwidth, or changing the number of prongs to better fit the style and size of the gemstone.
Once the final design has been solidified within the 3D modeling software, the next step is to create 3D printed versions. This allows customers a way to get a better idea and feel for the overall design and especially how it looks on one’s hand. Sometimes customers realize they want a smaller or larger center gemstone after seeing it on their hand, or decide they want to add embellishments or details they didn’t consider before. Another plus is that the 3D file can be saved in case couples ever need an exact copy made of the ring. After viewing the 3D printed pieces, the customers and jewelers agree on the final design and the jeweler will proceed with the final casting and setting, at the end of which the customers have their very own, custom design. Since everything is done in-house, the entire process usually takes about two to four weeks from start to finish with complex pieces potentially taking longer. The goal is for all couples to be fully involved in the process. While the custom design is most popular for engagement rings, many people utilize 3D modeling and printing for custom jewelry as well. Often customers who have family stones or materials will bring them in to be used in an updated, up-cycled design. A diamond ring can be turned into a beautiful custom necklace or the stones from an inherited bracelet can be taken out and set into an engagement ring. Metals can be melted down and used in a new design. Given the improvements in technology, designing custom pieces has never been easier for both jewelers and customers. More often than not, jewelers include the custom design process for free along with the purchase of the materials necessary for the ring. As such, customers are better off finding a private jeweler that offers custom design service because not only are they getting better quality materials and diamonds, they are getting the opportunity to design the ring they will hopefully wear for the rest of their life. and will treasure always. 3D printing and modeling have taken the jewelry business to new levels and have increased the level of interaction between the jeweler-customer relationship, allowing customers to create the ring of their dreams that is truly one of a kind.