Dazzling Piece: Artisans and Consumers Enjoy the Rise of 3D-Printed Jewelry

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In today’s virtual bazaar, online merchants like Etsy allow designers to create personal stores for their jewelry, artwork, clothing, and other handmade wares. As 3D printing technology becomes more affordable, however, it’s going to play a larger role in how these specialty goods are made. New startups like Zazzy have combined the accessibility of an online store with the capabilities of 3D printed jewelry, giving designers the tools to upload a digital file and have it printed to order from their Amsterdam office. Below, we’ve outlined the benefits and drawbacks of extreme DIY versus a specialty printing service, so you can decide how to tackle your next passion project.

Outsourcing Your Creation

Here’s how a site like Zazzy works: first, you need to create a design that is compatible with their printers. Currently, the company only accepts sketched images and text designs, but soon you’ll be able to upload an actual 3D file that they can turn into an object. Next, choose what materials you’d like your object to contain — right now, nylon, stainless steel, and precious metals like silver can all be used, depending on how you want the finished product to look. Once someone orders your creation, they’ll build and ship it within three weeks. Profits are shared fairly between designer and manufacturer, so you can come up with imaginative jewelry, and leave the grunt work to someone with more experience.

pieces by Theresa Burger

3D Printed Jewelry by Theresa Burger

The In-House Route

On the other hand, creating 3D printed jewelry at home can be an extremely rewarding experience. Initially, you’ll need to invest in a desktop 3D printer and some filament cartridges, but any profits you make from selling jewelry are entirely yours. You’ll also have more control over the exact shape, size, color, and materials that are used in a piece — for example, if you wanted to make a watchband using more malleable plastic, you could find the perfect filament for your idea. There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to designing objects in 3D, but plenty of tutorials exist online to help you get started. If you’re a mid-sized merchant who is looking to keep everything under your roof, buying a 3D printer might be the way to go.

3D-Printed Work from Famous Designers

If you’re still skeptical about 3D printing, just take a look at all of the iconic studios and designers who are excited to get involved. For example, the United Nude fashion house has produced an entire line of 3D printed shoes with people like Fernando Romero and Zaha Hadid, bridging the gap between fashion and sculpture. Radical designers like Janne Kyttanen and the Freshfiber team have paired up with 3D Systems to realize their take on 3D printed jewelry. Basically, we’re one step away from Kanye West building his own 3D fashion house. For smart, forward-thinking creators, this technology is much more than a trend.

My name is Angela Ricardo Bethea and I am the founder and editor behind ( and many other online publications ) ... I love the finer things in life, I'm quite a shop-a-holic and a certified jet-setter. So if I am not behind my laptop to blog, I'd probably be shopping if not traveling.

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