Meet Ola Shekhtman
Ola Shekhtman is a 3D designer, jewelry maker, and avid traveler who uses 3D printing to realize her most worldly ambitions. After learning jewelry making in Saint Petersburg and 3D modeling in New York, Shekhtman now utilizes the freedom afforded to her by 3D printing to manufacture and sell her designs from anywhere on Earth with a Wi-Fi hookup. Since conceiving of her Cityscape collection, Shekhtman has called the U.S., Israel, and then Canada her home, and is currently based in Berlin, for now.
“Traveling is my powerful engine and my high quality fuel is feedback from my customers,” says Shekhtman. “Every day I receive messages with stories what Cityscape Rings mean for people, and I am very thankful to each of my customer who shares touching story with me. It gives my work great meaning.”
Shekhtman’s rings retail on Etsy, Shopify, and Uncommon Goods, as well as on the Shapeways Marketplace. Soon, Shekhtman hopes to have them retail in museums and galleries, and in brick and mortar shops.
Inspiration and Process
The Cityscape ring collection was born from Ola Shekhtman’s love of architecture and travel. At home after a trip to France, Shekhtman was searching for something special to keep the memories of her travels close at hand. She imagined wrapping the iconic landmarks of Paris around her finger and wearing them as jewelry. Finding nothing like her vision on the market, Shekhtman decided to try her hand at creating the keepsake herself.
It took Shekhtman about six months to create her first Cityscape design, the Paris ring. She placed an order with Shapeways, and in two weeks, a prototype arrived at her desk. Delighted by the beauty and wearability of her design, and realizing that the concept she had created had potential to spark joy for people other than herself, Shekhtman posted photos of the Paris ring to social media. Within a couple of months she received her first custom order, from a client wanting a ring for his wife on their ten-year wedding anniversary, honoring Edinburgh, the city where they had wed. Says Shekhtman, “The process of 3D modeling the Edinburgh ring absorbed me for 3 weeks. But it was worth it. The client was delighted by the ring and I gained confidence that I can provide people with something to keep their warm memories about special events that happened in particular places.”
Now, it takes Shekhtman only 12 to 15 hours to 3D model a new ring. For each new city she renders in ring form, Shekhtman first studies the architecture and chooses the best buildings to model, based on their relevance to the city’s culture, and how well they will translate onto a ring. Then, she 3D models each building in careful proportion. For rings of different sizes, Shekhtman will add or remove buildings rather than stretch or squeeze the design so as to maintain maximum recognizability. Once she has her design fully rendered in 3D modeling software, she submits an order to Shapeways, and two weeks later she is able to try on her new design.
Shekhtman x Shapeways
Shekhtman is a trained goldsmith, and though she sometimes misses handcrafting her jewelry designs, she says of 3D printing, “3D gives me three kinds of freedom: 1. Geographic freedom. I can live where I want and travel all year long, and the only tool I need to have with me is my laptop. 2. Freedom of creativity. Details rule! Customers adore buildings with columns and tiny statues, which I create in 3D software. It is tricky to pierce windows [by hand] and 3D lets me make it easily. And, 3. Freedom of time – To make 1000 rings by hand I would spend nearly 100 years. Shapeways can produce this amount in 2-3 weeks. Using 3D modeling I can make a city once and it is available to order in any quantity, forever, which frees me up for new designs.”
Indeed, since the collection’s inception in 2015, Shekhtman has sold over 6,000 Cityscape Rings—an impossible achievement were she making each ring by hand. Of her shop on the Shapeways Marketplace, Shekhtman says, “It is my first passive income. All I need to do is upload models, photos of real products from different views, and detailed descriptions to help potential customers make a purchase.”