The Future of Jewelry Manufacturing Is Custom
“Mass-produced jewelry is a modern invention,” says Casey Melvin. “Until the 20th century, every piece of jewelry was made by a craftsman.” The craftsman allowed for customization, for unique jewelry for each individual wearer, but this artisanal approach has been largely displaced by mass production’s economy and speed. The company Casey co-founded and runs with her sister, Janine, in many ways promises a blend of these benefits. With design executed by software and a digital manufacturing process built on 3D printing, The Future of Jewelry (TFOJ) offers signet rings that are tailored to the size and customizations of the wearer. The company combines a return to the possibilities of the old way of making jewelry with the speed and cost savings of the new.To get more news about custom jewelry manufacturers, you can visit jewelryhunt.net official website.
Neither Casey nor Janine has a background in 3D printing or engineering; both sisters were studying law until they launched their jewelry manufacturing company. The seed of the idea was planted while the sisters were spending a semester abroad at Oxford. They were hunting for matching souvenirs on a weekend trip to Spain when Janine spotted a gold signet ring she liked. The ring was too big for her fingers, but it did fit her sister. Casey bought it and had it engraved, with the thought that they would be able to easily find a match for Janine online. When that second ring proved elusive, the sisters began to explore options to make one themselves.
That might have meant making molds and doing the etching manually,” Melvin says. “We weren’t locked in on the 3D printing aspect initially; we were locked in on recreating the product we liked so much.”
As the two sisters began investigating different technologies, they learned that 3D printing could be used to quickly manufacture tooling for lost wax casting, without requiring a large investment in molds or manual labor. Furthermore, they found 3D printing service bureaus that could manage both the printing and casting steps for them.
The sisters realized they had found not only the answer to their personal quest for a duplicate ring, but also a more flexible and personal way for other customers to buy jewelry, too.The conventional gold ring on the left was the inspiration for The Future of Jewelry. Casey Melvin purchased the ring in Spain in 2016 and had it engraved. When the Melvins couldn’t find a match for Janine, they discovered a process for casting custom rings from precious metals using 3D printed wax tooling—the production method for the ring on the right.
The Future of Jewelry is intended to provide a custom, on demand and affordable option for signet rings, just like the one Janine Melvin eventually had made. Rather than traveling to a jewelry counter or selecting from an existing ring inventory, customers can create their own digital designs using the options and tools available through the company’s website.
The company now offers four precious metal ring options — silver as well as yellow, rose and white gold — plus lower-cost rings made from selective laser sintered (SLS) nylon and offered in enamel, acrylic or matte finishes. Rings are 3D printed in nylon or cast from the 3D printed wax forms by the service bureau Shapeways and its partners.
While the Melvins expect to continue using service providers as the business scales, they are now making some of the lost wax casting models themselves using a resin-based digital light processing (DLP) 3D printer. This machine can produce 55 wax ring forms in a single build run overnight, allowing for high mix production with frequent turnover. Each ring can be different, sized and designed precisely for the person who will wear it.For as much as 3D printing enabled the new jewelry maker’s business, the production side of this business has been relatively straightforward, the sisters say. But making custom design easy requires robust and easy-to-use software, and much of the startup’s development effort has focused here. 3D printing is a digital process that needs digital input — and for a custom item, at least some of that input needs to come directly from the customer. As makers of other 3D printed custom and on-demand products have found, success requires approaching the problem less like a manufacturer and more like a software developer.
In fact, of the seven employees who now work for The Future of Jewelry, four are dedicated to developing and iterating the online shopping experience. “In the beginning we probably went through two or three different outsource companies that build mobile apps and things like that,” Melvin says. “But eventually we figured out we needed to bring this in house to really delve into these issues.”
It took TFOJ’s team of three developers and one graphic designer a full year to build out the company’s interactive “sketch editor,” which customers now use to order. Through this interface, users are prompted to choose a base design, select a material, and customize their signet ring with text and simple images. The editor prices the ring according to its material volume, and once the order is placed and paid for via Shopify, the STL file is sliced and passed to a 3D printer.