Just today I saw something wonderful outside of Shapeways too, they are Jonathan Ben-Tovim's encoder rings. The rings, "store precious digital information" and the surface of the rings are "blobs and holes that represent binary information." A great concept and also, and I mean this in the best way possible, a great product.(via PFSK)
Jewelry lends itself well to 3D printing, the size of the objects mean that prints are relatively cheap and more importantly every 3D print is unique. Rarity has a lot to do with why some jewels are appreciated. But, will people start to wear plastic jewels? I had a discussion about that and more with Wildsketch in the comments of another post.
Will the fact that you can create a truly unique object outweigh pre-concieved notions about the 'worth' of plastic versus gold? Can Jontathan Ben-Tovim's "precious digital information" make an object precious? What is the value that we place on unique?
Diamonds are percieved as a rare even unique gift fitting of a unique union between two people. But, what is rare about them? Roughly 171,000,000 carats of diamonds are produced each year. An average engagement ring is .49 carats. There are only 3 types of diamond cuts and 11 general shapes. This together with the carats of a diamond mean that there are a lot of possible permutations, but unique it is not. Especially since most people are buying diamonds within the same price and so size range.
Diamonds seem to be valued by people because of the idea that we have of them. How would we go about promoting 3D printed jewelry? By promoting and marketing "unique"? Or would we just have to wait until the right design captures the world's imagination?
Shy stop with plastic - if they can make metal gears we could make metal rings. But it will have to be the design that carries it. Novelty will be the starting point - then personalization (print to order - messages on rings or pendants etc)