02, March 2016: The modern day art of 3D printing is making its mark in the world of jewellery making. Its pinpoint accuracy enables designers to create pieces of jewellery that would otherwise be almost impossible. Despite the inevitable scepticism amongst the hard fast traditionalists who say that the use of Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D printing takes out the human element of jewellery making, modern jewellers, such as Simon Wright, who was recently interviewed by F&L Designer Guides about the subject, claim that these technologies are simply tools, and the skill of a jeweller is still required to use them to properly.
CAD and 3D printing have been incredibly successful in science and engineering, but today it is pushing the boundaries in the world of jewellery too. Although it challenges the romantic ideal of jewellery making, many jewellers use the technology, fuse it with age-old techniques and produce the jewellery designs of our day. Wax or resin moulds are created using CAD and then cast in precious metal via lost wax casting. Many jewellers agree with Simon and believe that designs that could not be made by hand are being brought to life using this modern technology.
With another 3D printer recently added to his collection, Simon tells F&L that “this one is super duper fast, printing 8 rings in two hours which is record breaking in comparison to our other more detailed, higher resolution printers”. Simon believes that you have to move with the times or you will get left behind. His clients love the way they can see models of their jewellery before it is actually cast, and his staff can they play around without worry, having fun with new designs and models.
Denying the potential harm that technology could bring to the craft of jewellery making, Simon is adamant that only a skilled jeweller can know how to use CAD and 3D printing to bring the components of a piece together. He also believes that the soul of any piece of jewellery lies in its design and the process of thought that goes into it, not in its physical elements. Pieces are all designed organically, on paper and in the head of the designer. They are all hand finished and hand engraved. The human skill in the creation is paramount and as important as it ever was.