The jewellery industry is slowly adapting to technological advancements that have revolutionized other sectors. 3D printing, augmented reality and computer-aided design (CAD) are now an exciting reality. One, which presents a whole new way to design, produce and shop for jewellery. And it seems that more and more online stores will need to adopt these technologies if they want to stay competitive.
This new trend holds great potential for jewellery distributors, designers and shoppers alike. Now, clients can completely customize their own design and try out the finished product virtually. And the benefits for manufacturers are substantial as well. Cheaper and more versatile production and quicker shipment, to name a few. It seems that technology is truly the next frontier in the jewellery sector.
The Shopping Revolution
Online shopping has always had one major drawback – customers not able trying out their jewellery before buying it. Luckily, this can now become a thing of the past. Now, augmented reality (AR) transcends the virtual realm to deliver a lifelike feel when shopping online. This solves a few of the challenges that have kept the jewellery industry from transitioning to digital trade. As the focus in retail is on the customer experience – augmented reality is the next logical step.
Face recognition software proved to be a hit with the makeup and hair styling industries. Now, augmented reality allows clients to try out rings, bracelets and necklaces without leaving their home. And all they need is a webcam. This makes browsing and shopping for jewellery online easier. Not to mention adding a fun social component to the process. This is a big step away from catalogue-style e-shopping while retaining a much closer to a real high street shopping experience.
3D Printed Jewellery – The next Logical Step
The combination of computer-aided design (CAD) software and a 3D printer is becoming more and more mainstream. The benefits to designers are many and easy to spot – faster production times, easy corrections and amazing amount of detailing. Jewellery in gold, silver, bronze, copper and brass is created thanks to Lost-Wax Printing and Casting. This technology expands on modern 3D printing technology as well as traditional metal casting. The end result are pieces – far more versatile, complex and customized.
When we talk about the benefits of 3D printing in jewellery, it is clear that the cost and labor savings are phenomenal for both buyer and seller. Not to mention making clients a real part of the making of the pieces in real-time. For the first time, customers can participate at every stage of the design and creation of the jewellery they’ve chosen. Without a doubt, this makes the shopping experience more personal and exciting.
The whole process starts with a prospective buyer selecting one of several metal options (platinum? 18K white gold?), side stones (sapphire? aquamarine? emerald?) to enhance the diamond of his or her choice. This means that the customer has literally hundreds of designs and combinations to choose from.
What are the benefits of this technology?
After the customization process, things get more technical but equally interesting. The CAD/CAM software platform outputs a digital file that’s perfectly proportional. This takes out human error out of the equation. A 3D printed model of the piece of jewellery is then made of thermoplastic wax. The customer’s chosen metal is poured into the digitally-designed mold. Afterwards the gemstones are added and set by an expert jeweler based on exact online specifications.
It is clear how this process cuts out most of the traditional labor that goes into jewellery-making. In essence, this translates to quicker production times as well as cheaper price. This new and rather ingenious design method is reshaping the traditional industry in a truly spectacular way.
Today, buying jewellery is much more about the experience. Individual pieces are a status symbol and clients love to leave their personal mark on what they buy. The combination of 3D printing and augmented reality makes it possible to divert from mainstream designs. As a result, clients can customize pieces to their own specifications. The use of virtual inventory is doing so much more than empowering consumers. It is removing all physical frontiers from the design and crafting process to allow for light, unique and affordable pieces.