3D design and printing in jewelry

New technologies

This interview is for the jewelers who want to enrich their classical techniques with the new technologies and for the curious jewelry-lovers. I asked a professional jeweler and 3D designer, Vladimir Starkov, to tell us what 3D design and 3D printing can bring into jewelry.

Please, tell us about your journey to 3D jewelry design?

I started as a classical jeweler, making pieces with my own hands. As an education, I got CAP at jewelry in Paris, where I learnt the basic techniques of working with metal and wax. I always preferred wax for its flexibility. Unfortunately, it did not give me enough speed to follow my quick artistic mind. It was also complicated to reproduce exactly the same perfect shapes and forms. Then I discovered 3D modelling, and it was a revelation! Now I can transform, save my work for the future, when I have the new ideas, create (make fast 3D sketch) and return back to the initial piece. You have the right to improve your piece many times, which is not so widely available in the traditional process. I have been doing it for more than 12 years, so far, and keep enjoying the benefits that only 3D modelling can offer.

Even though 3D already exists for more than 10 years, it is still a new technology for many jewelers. Can you tell in more details, what you can do with it? What is it exactly and how it can save time?

Today some jewelry artists already know about 3D or have used the services of a 3D designer. Basically, it can save a lot of time for all types of works that need modelling a piece. Imagine, that all sculptural pieces, that you are used to model in wax before casting in metal, may take you 1-2 hours instead of, let`s say, 10. Also, the model is easily adjustable, i.e., for the sizes of the rings. You can show the piece to your clients before it is, actually, made. And then keep it in your “library”, ready to be taken out any time you need it again. Using 3D modeling, the designer can calculate the weight, number of stones needed, carat weight of the finished jewelry piece.
The 3D is also more precise then the piece made by hand. Also, you can create many models and present them in your catalog for the clients before spending money on actual fabrication. In technical terms, you also save on molds, because the pieces are cast in metal straight from the 3D printed models.

I know that many jewelers are scared of the high price, which used to be true a couple of years ago. Now an average piece would cost 30-40$ to print. And it keeps getting lower, at the same type the quality of printing is rising – the new machines are developed on a regular bases.

What does the process of 3D jewelry design looks like?

I want to note that 3D is not necessarily a contemporary design – it can be applied to any style of jewelry, even completely classical. It is only the way of modeling it. Well, of course, the machine does not replace the artist. At the beginning you need to have the idea. It starts with a sketch or a photo, with more experience you can start modelling straight in the program (we use Rhinoceros). You need to know all the sizes, shapes, proportions, the sizes of the stones, bezels, etc. Working in the program, you start with the main dimensions (i.e., the finger size, the central stone, the general shape, etc.). After that you will add the smaller details and refine the model.

The important part in 3D design is that the designer, actually, knows jewelry, because (s)he needs to think about the further processes of casting, cleaning, polishing, setting the stones, etc. He decides also what could be better done by hand…

After the design is ready, it gets printed on a 3D printer, which you don’t need to have yourself – many companies now offer the printing service. The piece can be cast in silver, gold or other metal directly from the printed piece. There are some services already, that offer printing straight in metal, but it is more rare and expensive – it takes high temperature.

The 3D design process

3D design

The ring directly after casting
The finished piece

I know that you give the courses of 3D modeling for jewelers. What are the skills, that any jeweler can learn, without digging too deep into the 3D world?

There are many things that the artists can, actually, model in 3D themselves, without giving to the professional designer. During my courses I I offer the complete education of the possibilities of 3D modeling in Rhinoceros. I also give a lot of tricks and advice for jewelry, based on my own 12-year experience in 3D. You will learn how to create the forms, how to render them and prepare for printing. We have, both, theory and practice. I also teach the techniques of modelling that are not available in Rhino. The duration of the courses is 48 hours, 2 days of 3 hours per week during 2 months. The next group starts on December 4, located at the 620 Cathcart building in Montreal. You can find more details on my site www.vovitch.com or by phone (514) 926-8561.

Older Post Newer Post

  • LOFT.bijoux on

    Thank you for passing by my blog!
    Regards, Olga Leclair

  • Ana on

    Nice your 3D design process. Thanks for helpful post.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published