We will be the first to admit we’ve featured quite a bit of jewelry on the site. Everything from emeralds fit for royalty to eco-friendly beach glass has graced our pages, as we clearly can’t get enough of glamorous bits and baubles. But we’ve never featured a line where you can design your own jewelry—and we’re not talking about those colorful friendship bracelets we all made together in elementary school. Shapeways is a new brand that allows you to design and create your own—well, anything—through the magic of 3D printing. With software that allows your creativity to run wild, customers can design their own pieces, hire a designer or even purchase ready-made jewelry—from plastic friendship rings to gold statement chokers.
As a marketplace, community and design space, Shapeways was built on creativity and the idea of empowering individuals with the ability to use their own imagination to design, basically, whatever they want. Open to customers as a sort of 3D-printer-version of Etsy, designers sell their pieces here, creating a template that Shapeways then prints and ships to buyers all over the world. Shapeway designers are also available for hire to design a piece just for you if for some reason your own idea mill isn’t churning. If, however, you’re tech savvy enough to create your own piece on art software (or just download one of their easy-to-use templates) then the world is literally your oyster. Rings, bracelets and earrings can be made any way you want. Always wanted a ring to show off your passion for shoes? A bracelet whose patterns emulate that of plant cells? A pair of gold Grumpy Cat earrings? Yep, us too.
While we’re a little fuzzy about the science behind it all (hey, we’re fashion lovers not engineers), Shapeways makes everything easy for everyone—from commuter programmers to those who still have trouble with their email. Pieces can be made in a multitude of colors from over 40 different materials including steel, plastic or precious metals—the latter, of course, being our favorite. And as much as we love the idea of making our own bling, we have to admit the talent on the site is pretty explosive. Designers take inspiration from ciphers, science, kinetics and even literature to create some of the most unique pieces we’ve ever seen. One of our favorite programs on the site is Cell Cycle, an app that allows you to create precious metal jewelry with the same design structure as plant cells. You can fiddle with the designs to change material, color, layers or even cellular structure.
Sure, we’d rather design our own pieces (purely for the pleasure of casually saying “Oh, this? Just something I made…”), but the ready-made jewelry at Shapeways is nothing to scoff at. Yes, if you want luxury pieces and precious metals you’re better off customizing your own designs with platinum, but even then we’d probably hire a designer to do all the technical work. We’re great with Instagram filters but would undoubtedly have more trouble with modeling software—again, that’s just us. Personally we’re already in the market for a platinum cipher ring and have plans for a charm bracelet with golden baby elephants—just because we can.