Atit Kothari discusses what’s next for the gem and jewellery sector in terms of the latest technologies and their impact on the sector.
The future for the gems and jewellery sector is pretty bright. Primarily, the ability to customise and personalise products with 3D design tools is going to be disruptive. 3D Printing will also allow direct metal printing, eliminating the need for moulds and other machinery. With tech like Blockchain, transparency and trust will no longer be an issue. Gemstones and precious metals will be traceable back to their sources, and thereby the industry (and consumers) will only push for ethical practices.
We know VR / AR is being widely adopted by most industries, and in jewellery too, it will disrupt the retail experience and change the way consumers interact with precious gems and jewelry. Imagine a luxury jewellery showroom that can be accessed in the comfort of one's home - with realistic visualisations and try one of the products possible.
3D printing has already streamlined the casting process. Initially, artisans would have to make multiple wax moulds and metal imprints of their designs to manufacture them, but now they can directly print the wax pieces. Furthermore, there are machines that can directly print precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum, making production a much faster process.
As for printers marketed by Imaginarium, we have partnered with Cooksongold to introduce a DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) printer that produces top quality, ready to finish precious metal parts from computer-based designs in a matter of hours. It completely eliminates the need to invest in tooling processes like moulds and casts, the printer is perfect for printing complex, organic shapes and lightweight designs directly in precious metals. It has been designed especially for the jewellery industry, as there is no direct contact with the precious metal powder to avoid material loss and easy metal changeover.
Yes, the situation is already changing. Customers can now be supplied with bespoke designs at no extra cost to the manufacturer allowing for large scale customization. Involving customers in the process will no longer be a luxury but the norm.
The main factor is the trust that we have fostered in Imaginarium, we always stick to our principles when it comes to design and manufacturing. We have matched cutting edge technology with the customer's age-old pain points. For example, Rapidshape is a german DLP printer used by jewellery manufacturers around the world. We act as a service bureau and print designs for customers on the Rapidshape printer because we know that making an investment in such technology is a big decision. When customers are ready to take the next step to grow their business further, we recommend the appropriate Rapidshape printer for their needs, acting as not only a service bureau but a retailer too.
For the future, we aim to make manufacturing accessible to all so that any individual can make jewellery. If your grandmother has a sketchbook full of jewellery designs, we can bring those ideas to life. Another thing we would like to do is further innovate in tools for design, making it accessible and intuitive enough for anyone to design.
One thing we have noticed is that people will always invest in jewellery, no matter the state of the market. Moreover, jewellery that is intrinsically linked to a story that appeals to a consumer will be evergreen. When a consumer finds meaning and emotion captured in products, it elevates the product beyond just its material value or its design and forms an emotional bond with the wearer. Manufacturers must keep that in mind when designing new products in slower times.
This article was originally published as an interview in Jewellery, Technology & Machinery magazine. Header image source: https://growring-jewelry.myshopify.com