Jewelry is arguably one of the most traditional industries in existence, but new technologies – including 3D printing – have revolutionized the way we make and wear jewelry, with aspects such as sustainability, price and durability making designer jewelry more equitable. New technologies also make it easier to alter or ‘edit’ jewelry. For instance, 3D models of jewelry pieces can be printed as plastic prototypes, with required changes being made on the modeling software so the final design can be printed in precious metals. 3D printing is just one innovation taking over the industry, with designers like Nervous System, Radian, and Diana Law creating stunning pieces in unique shapes with a wide variety of materials ranging from nylon to stainless steel, paired with precious gemstones such as sapphires, emeralds and diamonds.
Nearly 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada wish to back sustainable, eco-friendly brands, and this applies as much to the daily items they consume as to luxury items such as jewelry. Lab-grown diamonds are popular among millennials and younger generations who are attracted by the idea of donning stunning, sparkly stones that are virtually indistinguishable from their Earthly counterparts, despite being carbon-negative. Because they’re not mined, lab-grown diamonds actually remove carbon from the atmosphere and convert it into diamonds, capturing carbon in a crystalline form for eternity. Brides Magazine reports that around 20 metric tons of pollution are removed from the atmosphere for every one-carat diamond made in a lab. For an idea of how beautiful and sparkly a synthetic diamond can be, check out Bindi Irwin’s stunning engagement ring, which suits her active, eco-warrior lifestyle.
Imagine wearing a jewelry item that repositions a scarf on a windy day, rolls up your sleeves when it’s hot, or takes your hoodie off when it stops raining. It’s already a reality, thanks to the work of engineers from Stanford University and the MIT Media Lab, who have created Kino Living Jewelry: mini pieces of jewelry that attach to the wearer’s clothes, moving along the body and making adjustments or forming new positions to change the jewelry’s look from day to day. These pieces can be programmed to create kinetic patterns on the wearer, but can also be used as music players and integrated microphones when users wish to make a call.
Lockets are traditionally worn to remember a loved one, but these days, they are just another part of the ubiquitous connectivity movement, with companies like the Artefact Group making tech-connected pieces. Imagine opening your locket and flicking your finger across it to view not one, but a selection of images. Then imagine sharing chosen images with loved ones and friends as though your jewelry item were a smartphone. The piece, called Purple Locket, bears a simple, round design. Flip it open, and its wireless technology will enable you to connect to Instagram, SMS, and other sources so you can browse through images, like your favorites, and send messages to others. You can also use filters and effects for the photos you love the most.
Jewelry is fast joining the world of 24/7 connection, with items such as the Purple Locket providing wearers with a chance to customize and share content while also wearing stylish pieces that wow with their originality. Lab-grown diamonds, meanwhile, are showing that sustainability and style go hand-in-hand. Finally, innovations in 3D printing are enabling companies to create futuristic looking designs that can easily be ‘edited’ online to avoid time and material wastage.