Experimenting With 3-D Jewelry

James Taffin de Givenchy: Going Beyond a Famous Name
December 5, 2016
On the Runway: Michelle Obama Makes an Italian Fashion Statement
December 5, 2016
Show all

Experimenting With 3-D Jewelry

This post was originally published on this site
Want create site? Find Free WordPress Themes and plugins.

Over the last decade 3-D printers have become an established part of the jeweler’s tool kit, a fast and efficient way of testing designs and offering customization to consumers. A number of designers are now pushing the boundaries of the technology and finding that it opens new doors to realizing their creativity.

When Alice Cicolini and Melanie Georgacopoulos decided to embark on a collaborative project that focused on design experimentation rather than commerce, they chose 3-D printing specifically because neither was familiar with it. “We wanted to challenge ourselves,” said Ms. Georgacopoulos, who, like Ms. Cicolini, is a London-based designer and goldsmith.

“3-D printing is becoming embedded in the industry as a useful tool, and we wanted to explore whether it can print an object that you can just pick up and wear,” Ms. Cicolini said, adding: “It was important for both of us that we would make something that we couldn’t create any other way.”

Indeed, Ms. Cicolini’s necklace, an intricate jumble of her signature lotus and dome motifs printed in plastic and resins using a variety of 3-D printing techniques, would be forbiddingly heavy to wear if it were made of gold and precious stones.

After months of research and trial and error, the technology also allowed her to experiment with pattern and color in ways not possible with her customary enameling techniques.

Producing both monochrome and colored versions of the design, she was particularly drawn to the ceramic process, in which a four-color pattern can be precisely applied to a piece as it prints in a bed of granular ceramic. “The patterns I created wouldn’t be possible with enameling,” she said.

Ms. Georgacopoulos created a riff on her work with pearls. Her necklace consists of 35 different components, printed in resin, of pearl-shaped spheres that morph into shapes faceted like diamonds. These are connected by links that click together to form the completed piece.

She was prompted to create a blue version after the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue diamond became the most expensive jewel ever sold at auction at Christie’s sale in May in Geneva.

“I thought it was a good moment to consider what value means in jewelry,” Ms. Georgacopoulos said. “If you print something in plastic, it will last forever, just like a diamond. Why is one of value and the other is not?”

An 18-karat gold bracelet created in a 3-D printing process by Marie Boltenstern of Berlin.

Stefan Baumann

An exhibition of the designers’ creations, organized by the curator Andrée Cooke, at Morton’s, a private club in London’s Mayfair district, prompted a conversation about value, which, in jewelry, is traditionally associated with gold and carat weight rather than design.

“There’s much more recognition of design value in other disciplines,” Ms. Cicolini said. “You don’t look at a Patricia Urquiola chair and think about the basic materials.”

Despite the project’s unexpected complications and costs (Ms. Georgacopoulos said the printing alone of one necklace costs about 1,000 pounds, or $1,245), the pair are refining techniques and designs to expand the project to a collection of limited-edition pieces at more affordable prices. “This is just the first chapter,” Ms. Georgacopoulos said.

Marie Boltenstern is among the first designers to create directly printed 3-D precious metal jewelry. The Berlin-based designer, who describes herself as a jewelry architect, applied her experience in architecture, engineering and computational design to create Resonance, a gold and platinum collection featuring a complex network of individually designed links inspired by fish and reptilian scales, to ensure fluidity and fit. “On the one hand, scales are very rigid and protective, and on the other, they adapt completely to the surface of the body,” she said.

The central piece in the collection, an 18-karat gold wide bracelet that retails for approximately 28,000 euros, or $29,935, is printed over a period of 20 hours on a machine developed by Cooksongold, a jewelry equipment supplier in Birmingham, England. The printer builds the pieces by melting together gold, silver or platinum powder, layer by layer, with a precise laser.

To produce the densely patterned, intricately connected system of hinges by hand would be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming, Ms. Boltenstern said. She pointed out, however, that cutting-edge and traditional techniques must be combined to ensure a high-level finish.

Experienced artisans at her father’s jewelry company, Boltenstern, in Vienna, polish each piece by hand, once it prints fully assembled, setting it with gemstones if requested by the customer. “One cannot function without the other,” she said.

Ron Arad, the multidisciplinary designer who has been using 3-D printing technology since 2000 when he presented “Not Made by Hand, Not Made in China,” a collection of jewelry, lighting and vases, agreed that the technology should be used judiciously.

“It has to be something that makes a new proposal to the world, to be something that hasn’t been done before,” he said. “You don’t get brownie points for making 3-D printed brownies. But if they taste better and are better for you, then go ahead.”

Critical of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s acquisition of a 3-D printed gun in 2013, he warns against using the technology for its own sake. “It’s just a tool. I’m also grateful to the rasp and the drill, but they are not the main thing,” he said.

Earlier this year, he unveiled a limited edition series with Louisa Guinness, a London-based dealer of jewelry created by artists and designers. His Hot Ingo earrings feature a 3-D printed polyamide spiral that the wearer can stretch, concertina-style, along a gold or silver rod or compress to create a tight ball shape.

He has also used computer modeling technology to print a gold ring for a couple whose names morph from one to the other around the band. His latest project with Ms. Guinness utilizes simple foil as a mold. “Give me your finger and I’ll make a foil ring that will fit your hand perfectly,” he said. “I’ll take it off your hand, scan it and have it printed in gold.”

Among the traditional surroundings of Graff Diamonds’ Mayfair workshop, 3-D printing has also found its place. Alongside the 65 artisans working by hand on high jewelry creations at the bench, three classically trained goldsmiths and diamond setters have acquired the skills to work with computer-aided design and the company’s state-of-the-art 3-D printers.

“These machines go beyond what the human eye can see and what the human hand can do with a saw frame,” Sam Sherry, Graff’s head of technology, said. “You can work in microns on the computer; that resolution is not possible at the bench.”

For him and his boss, Raymond Graff, a company director, it is essential that members of Mr. Sherry’s team are classically trained, rather than information technology experts employed simply to operate the technology. Their in-depth understanding of jewelry making means they can use it as an additional tool to create precise solutions for complex designs while maintaining their artistic integrity. “Our overriding goal is to make beautiful jewelry,” he said. “We want the stones to speak for themselves.”

The company’s most significant achievement utilizing CAD and 3-D printing so far, Mr. Sherry said, has been its Snowfall collection. The first piece, a jewelry watch, was unveiled at the Baselworld trade fair in March, the result of months of work to create a highly flexible bracelet covered in diamonds. “We wanted something that felt very natural and silklike on the skin, and we thought technology could help us,” Mr. Sherry said.

The team created a new, precise style of joint that ensured the timepiece’s flexibility and lightness. The next step was to create a dense blueprint for the entire watch, 700 to 800 tiny, individually designed collets and joints calculated to achieve flawless positioning for the diamond settings.

These were then printed in liquid resin and cast in fine gold, as in traditional lost-wax casting. In the final labor-intensive steps, the artisans worked by hand to finish each component to a high-quality finish before the watch could be assembled.

To avoid understandable confusion at the bench among this unwieldy maze of components, the printing process also allowed each one to be marked with a tiny reference number, visible only through a loupe, to locate the piece on the blueprint.

The joint design, easily duplicated and adapted for different purposes on the computer, has since been translated to earrings, and a further collection of Snowfall jewelry and watches is to be presented at Baselworld in March 2017.

For Mr. Graff, the mathematical precision made possible by 3-D printing works hand in hand with traditional jewelry craftsmanship, making it an opportunity not to be missed: “If you don’t move forward with technology, you’ll eventually be left behind.”

Did you find apk for android? You can find new Free Android Games and apps.

Comments are closed.