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?