3D printed jewelry

A Brief History of Jewelry

The very beginning
110,000 – 73,000 B.C. – Decorative sea shell beads are found in the archeological digs in Morocco which were most likely used as amulets.


Introduction of gold jewelry
4400 B.C. – Ancient Thracian civilization produced the oldest known jewelry made from gold.


Copper & Gemstone Era
5000 – 30 B.C. – Copper is introduced as a material. Gold arrives in Egypt around 4000 BC. Many jewelry designs based on scarab beetles, scrolls, winged birds, tigers, jackals, etc were widely made artifacts of jewelry.


Religion brings widespread ceremonial jewelry adoption
1066 – 1485 – With the help of religion, Medieval jewelry prospered throughout Europe. Hair and clothing were popular choices for jewelry during religious ceremonies. Many of these pieces were adorned with gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, pearls, emeralds and diamonds.


Roaring Twenties & Art Deco
1920 – 1935 – The Roaring Twenties brought the rise of the Art Deco. This introduced jewelry filled with geometric shapes, vibrant colors, intricate designs, cubism, modernism and oriental art. It also popularized wristwatches.


Post World War II
1939 – The influence of World War II brought widespread embargoes on gemstones. Metal based designs soon become the popular choice of jewelry. Diamonds soon solidified its spot as the most popular gemstone with powerful marketing campaigns, “A diamond is forever”.


3D printing and the internet of everything
Now – 3D printing technology along with sites like http://www.shapeways.com (which is now offering gold as a material choice) are once again changing the way jewelry is manufactured and customized. In the future, these accessories will have sophisticated technology built into them allowing one to be connected anywhere in the world.


3D printing art is not just a possibility it is already a trend

When most people hear ‘3D printing’ they picture it in a manufacturing sense. You know… a factory-machine chugging out units of anything you can imagine. What people miss is the true game changing ability to create anything and everything. This lends great to makers and artists alike who have a ‘If I can dream it, I can make it’ mentality.

Since the early introduction of consumer-level 3D printers, those who were associated with the 3D graphics modeling industry had suddenly found a new play toy. 3D printers instantly turned 3D graphic modelers into artists. Customization became key. Artists who had difficulty making certain shapes or structures can now use 3D printing to bring that idea to life – no matter the size!

So, here are some amazing works of 3D printed art:

Modla x Damilola Odusote Nike Air Force 1 3D Printed Sculpture



Nike of Samothrace



Monochromatic Radiance



Memorial Bust of a Woman (self-portrait)

Sophie Kahn


Quixotic Divinity Headdress



Bust of a Youth



Thru Religion



3D Printed Arabic Ceiling



3D Printed Room



Noisy Boy from Real Steel

Screenshot 2014-03-19 16.01.40


How will 3D printing impact supply chain and manufacturing?

Many people don’t realize it but the impacts of 3D printing are potentially far reaching enough to be considered the ‘Next Industrial Revolution’! It’s impacts will mostly be felt on the supply chain and manufacturing segments of a business. Well how you ask?

Multiple ways:

  • First, mass customization = cheaper equipment costs and faster layover time (elimination). This means new equipment does not need to be bought when a new design is manufactured.
  • Second, automation. Programmability will enable 3D printing to take over many of steps in the supply chain such as manufacturing, assembly, packaging and eventually shipping.
  • Third, elimination of inventory. All inventory costs are gone. 3D printing is the definition of made-to-order, and because of its customizability it is infinitely flexible.
  • Fourth, necessity of outsourcing to suppliers will be decreased and possibly eliminated. Supplies and equipment can and will be 3D printed on a whim.
  • Fifth, an ability for entrepreneurial innovation. People are able to design and create their ideas immediately and for a small cost. Ex: Prototypes, Art projects.
  • Sixth, the materials created and used are sure to be healthy for big blue herself, Earth. In time, regulations and rules on the carbon impacts of machines and materials will be developed. The effects of 3D printing on pollution are sure to be slim to none.

The field is so new that it is just waiting to be revolutionized.


3D Printing: Transforming the way fashion is created

Those eager to whet their appetite in the jewelry making space do need to be aware of the impacts of this new additive technology. For consumers and makers new ways of manufacturing are greatly welcomed, however 3D printing brings both excitement and anxiety for the fashion industry.

For aspiring designers, it significantly lowers the cost of prototyping and manufacturing. The days of dealing with minimum orders from an outside supplier taking weeks in the process are long gone. 3D printers offer a chance to see how customers respond to designs before committing to substantial orders. Importantly, 3D printing lowers the barriers of entry into jewelry making.

Jewelry has long been considered split into two markets – homemade and luxury. It is obvious how 3D printing aids the homemade sector. The ability to share files and designs and print them instantaneously makes the printers that much easier to use. But to the luxury sector, 3D printing technology brings with it a few interesting caveats:

  • If a 3D printer can create jewelry at the same quality as traditional methods is it still considered luxury?
  • What is luxury anyways?
  • How do you prevent counterfeiting and protect the intellectual property of name brands?
  • What happens when anyone with the design file and a 3D printer wants to duplicate his or her favorite necklace from say, Bvlgari?
  • Will new copyright laws have to be made for .stl design files to prevent outright duplication?
  • And what about 3D scanners?

Fashion is and always has been a constantly changing scene, thus originality trumps everything. So even if designs are copied, the important question is, “who did it first”? People want to know. In my opinion, the designers and creators will still get their fair share of due credit.

Bvlgari necklace

On a basic level, 3D printing aids jewelry makers in a couple factors: sizing and customization. No one is preventing luxury jewelry manufactures from using 3D printers as well, so in all respect the playing field is level when it comes to 3D printers transforming the jewelry industry. For the time being the economic  promises of 3D printing far outweigh the negatives so why not make now the time to experiment and master this disruptive new technology?

So where can I buy some 3D printed jewelry?

So you want to get your hands on some freshly printed jewelry? With the 3D printed goods market still evolving there are already many places to find jewelry online. Some of these marketplaces may be already be familiar. You’ll find all of that below:


Etsy – One of the Internet’s largest marketplaces for handmade products. Naturally, this community lends itself to 3D printed objects. Although technically 3D printing isn’t a “handmade” process the design, creation and DIY movement of the industry certainly places it into the handmade category. There are literally thousands of jewelry designs to choose from, many of which are 3D printed!


Shapeways – Another marketplace where one can find a design they love, choose its material and have it shipped right to their door. Likewise, one can model their own product, upload it to Shapeways, choose the material and have that delivered as well. It is a wonderful marketplace for sellers and creative thinkers alike.


Nervous System – Industrial design studio that integrates processes and patterns found in nature to create unique and affordable art, jewelry, and housewares. Very heavily technology focused – designs are created using algorithms!


Hot Pop Factory – This Toronto based creative design team uses digital fabrication technology to bring ideas to life. With a keen focus on the artistic side of 3D printing the designs from Hot Pop Factory sure do raise eyebrows. Hot Pop Factory provides services such as design service, 3D interactivity and education on the industry itself. This start-up is sure to be a staple in the creative side of 3D printing.


Something for all

Here are some gorgeous examples of 3D printed jewelry found online. The possibilities are quite literally endless!

diamond necklace

ruby printed earrings

huge diamond ring

Some metal 3D printed jewelry examples:

Stainless Steel

metal necklace



Many metals cannot be 3D printed (yet) but jewelry makers are already making wax molds using 3D printers. Shown below is a cast for a silver ring.



How will 3D printing revolutionize the jewelry industry?

If you have not heard of 3D printing then shame on you! Haha, no really it is changing the world. 3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing in which a digital model of an object can become a  solid, 3D dimensional object. Nowadays just about any material can be used as 3D printer food – plastics, ceramics, metals and even chocolate. 3D printing is a mainstay in the Maker/DIY Movement and considered a wave in the wake of the next Industrial Revolution. But that is a topic for another blog. Our focus here at Mocci is on 3D printing and jewelry.

How will 3D printing revolutionize the jewelry industry?

jewelry collection

A couple ways.

  • First, anyone and everyone has access. With 3D printing the power of manufacturing is put into the users hands. No longer does it cost thousands of dollars in investment capital for the necessary molding equipment. No longer does it take months of apprenticeship to learn how to sculpt and mold molten metals at dangerously high temperatures. 3D printers can be had for as cheap as $300 and are only going to get better and more affordable. If $300 is not available, one can always use someone else’s printer with 3DHubs, Shapeways, ponoko, etc!
  • Second, the greatest design is now in your hands. The power of CAD (computer aided design) modeling software has progressed to the point where the only limitation in what you can create are the 3D printers themselves. Think of CAD as the architect and the 3D Printer as the civil engineer. The architect dreams up the vision while the civil engineer is there to tell the architect it can’t be done. The technology for 3D printing however is advancing at a rapid rate and soon enough the quality, rate of production and material choice will rival traditional manufacturing methods. Numerous companies and 3D printers have been popping up all over the world, so it is inevitable that growth will lead this technology into sophistication. The greatest advantage of the 3D printing age is the ability for customization.

The biggest challenge is disrupting the precious gem portion of the jewelry industry. With current technology, it is impossible to 3D print highly coveted fine ores such as diamond or gold. In this case, jewelry is molded from 3D printed wax castings by the lost wax casting method. Synthetic gems like sapphire and emerald are possible to recreate but will people even want them? Perhaps an amazing highly coveted composite material will be made in the future or scientists will find a way to 3D print gold.

But before that happens makers everywhere are still able to design and create beautiful, complex jewelry with 3D printing.