3D printing has opened up a world in which creativity and customization are not only possible, but affordable. From automobiles to computer components to jewellery, 3D printing has made it easy to create custom items for any situation. In the world of jewellery, people are now able to express themselves in ways that weren’t possible even a few years ago. Of course, this new technology brings a few caveats with it. In particular, the options for 3D jewellery are now so vast that choosing a particular design can be daunting. Here are 10 tips to help you choose the right 3D jewellery for any occasion.
1. Draw it first
Even the best jewellery designers don’t go straight to the printer and start making prototypes. In fact, they don’t even go to CAD programs as their first step. Instead, they sketch out the ideas they have on paper to get them down on a medium that is as unfettered as possible. Paper lets you be more creative and express yourself better, so draw whatever you wish before you do anything else.
2. Start with inspiration pieces
Starting from absolutely nothing can be difficult. Your best bet is to start with a stone, pearl, trinket, or other piece that you want to incorporate into your jewellery. Having a starting point can help you narrow down your options and can give you a canvas from which to work. Use the world around you for inspiration as well, even if you don’t plan to incorporate any of it into your jewellery.
3. Family heirlooms
Recreating a family heirloom has become a major part of 3D jewellery. If you have the real piece of jewellery to work from, that is best, but a picture will work as well. Some companies specialize in this kind of recreation, so look to them to do particularly complex jobs.
4. Compare technology
There are a number of different ways to go about printing 3D jewellery. In some cases, the item is printed directly by the printer. In other cases, a cast or mold is made from plastic and then traditional casting methods are used to create the actual jewellery. There are pros and cons to all approaches, so be sure to research which will suit your particular creation best.
5. Consider 3D milling
3D printing is a great technology for designing custom-jewellery, but it isn’t the only technology. Another approach, called 3D milling, is actually better at making highly complex, premium jewellery with an outstanding finish. The downside to 3D milling is that it’s more expensive. If you have a project that is complicated and needs to be of the best possible quality, then 3D milling might be the right approach.
6. Keep it simple
The ease with which complex patterns can be made through 3D printing often tempts people to go overboard with design. This is one of the reasons that starting with a sketch on paper can be important. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Don’t abandon time-tested design principles just because you have the tools to do so.
7. Design for your medium
There are four basic things to consider when designing jewellery: materials, stones, settings, and purpose. You need to keep all of these things in mind when choosing your 3D jewellery as they can limit the kinds of things that can be done. Study the properties of the materials you are interested in so that you know what they are capable of.
8. Prototype first
Though elaborate designs are possible with 3D jewellery, they may not be practical. Rings that are too thin, hollow bracelets, and elaborate necklaces may look great on the computer screen, but be impractical in reality. Prototyping the jewellery in inexpensive plastic can be a great way to get an idea of how it will look and how it will wear.
9. Hire a professional
If you’re looking to design custom jewellery, but don’t have a lot of expertise in the area, consider talking to a professional. You can consult any number of companies that make 3D jewellery or you can go to a local jeweler who you trust. Getting expert advice can save you from any number of mistakes, making the investment worthwhile.
10. Remember the basics
Don’t forget that jewellery is meant to be an accessory. It should complement your outfit and your body and draw everything together into a complete package. Think about the occasions on which you plan to wear the jewellery, how long you want it to last, the metals you like (or aren’t allergic to), and so forth. Though 3D printing has revolutionized jewellery making, it hasn’t changed the basics of wearing jewellery.
The major beauty of 3D jewellery is that it opens up doors that were previously closed to consumers and designers. From recreating grandma’s lost locket to designing an original, one-of-a-kind bracelet, 3D printing is certainly making a positive impact. Follow the tips above to ensure that you get the most out of the 3D jewellery you invest in.