3D printed jewelry is becoming more and more popular, especially as it becomes easier and cheaper to print with a wider variety of metals. Not long ago, if someone mentioned 3D printed jewelry to me, I’d immediately picture chunky, brightly colored plastic. That’s far from the case anymore. A lot of jewelry is still printed with plastic resin, and while a lot of it is clearly plastic, with a neon, 1980s vibe, some of it is so skillfully crafted that it tricks the eye into thinking it’s porcelain or glass. 3D printed metal jewelry is becoming easier to find, too, and some of it is indistinguishable from pieces you’d find at Tiffany’s.
Tessa’s Curated Boutique, a new online retailer, specializes in fine 3D printed jewelry of both plastic and metal. The site was started by Tessa Blokland, co-founder of Make it LEO, a service that wraps 3D printable design files to give designers control over how their files are distributed. As the company explains:
“LEO stands for Limited Edition Object – a way to convert a regular digital design file into a protected and monitored design. LEOs are created and tracked by Make it LEO’s cloud service that preserves the designer’s instructions for producing (3D printing) the object and makes sure they are carried out when the LEO is 3D printed. LEOs also include the number of physical items that can be made from the file (and any copy made of this file – all files originating from a LEO will, together, be able to 3D print the purchased amount). Using LEOs designers can ensure that customers get the high quality item they designed, as they intended it to be. With LEOs designers also know they can be fairly compensated for their design by getting paid for each physical item made from it.”
All items in the boutique are available as LEO files; the company also offers the option to print and ship the items for an additional fee. There aren’t a whole lot of options at this time, but, as the company states, they follow a philosophy of “less is more” and “quality over quantity.”
Pieces from the collection are available in two forms: either as digital files for download or as physical objects that will be shipped (by third parties) to the buyer.
“The quoted price is for the digital design alone,” the site explains. “If you want a physical item, the 3D printing price should be added. An estimate of the cost of 3D printing is part of the item explanation but prices vary depending on the provider you choose.”
Pieces are curated according to seasonal, pre-selected themes, meaning that there is a regularly rotating selection. Currently, the boutique is presenting two themes: Festive Gala and Winding. The first is self-explanatory; the second is more abstract, focusing on designs with spiraling or winding qualities.
The Festive Gala collection features designs by Studio Minale-Maeda, whose white polyamide orchid brooches are an example of plastic prints that could easily be mistaken for delicate ceramic. The Dutch design studio produces everything from jewelry to furniture using newer fabrication methods such as 3D printing, as well as ancient methods such as glassblowing. Tessa’s Curated Boutique also features their inventive 3D printed furniture connectors as one of the site’s few non-jewelry items.
While Blokland is in charge of selecting which items are sold on the site, Make it LEO officially runs it. There’s no indication of how often the collections change, but it appears that the themes tend to have a seasonal bent. Meanwhile, if you’re a designer or wholesaler who would like to start using LEO files on your site, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.