LAS VEGAS — Amid the seas of sparkling iPhone cases at the 2014 International CES, American Pearl CEO Eddie Bakhash had the only bling that mattered: Diamonds. Diamonds, emeralds, and pearls set in gold and platinum.
Why did he bring the crown jewels to a tech tradeshow? I asked him as much, and he surprised me with his angle: infinite customization (especially for bridal jewelry) through the magic of 3D printing.
You, the ring-shopper, start out with one of a thousand or more designs. You hand-pick stones, swapping out some for larger gems or different gemstone types altogether.
“There are thousands of possibilities, billions of permutations,” Bakhash said. “Every piece is like a snowflake.”
Rings can be printed in gold, silver, and platinum. American Pearl plans to roll out titanium options soon, as well.
The company has, according to a statement provided by American Pearl, “spent five years developing and perfecting a proprietary 3D printing manufacturing process to generate gold or silver in real time, all driven by software controlled by consumers.”
Once the customer previews their creation and checks out, American Pearl uses a proprietary 3D printing manufacturing process to generate the gold or silver elements. Then, gems such as diamonds, pearls, sapphires or emeralds are added according to the precise specifications that the customer selects. The entire process generally takes about three to four days, as compared to an average of two weeks that it takes to make jewelry using the traditional means of welding preexisting pieces together.
Aside from speed and variety, Bakhash said 3D printing also offers superior quality for this kind of jewelry. Designs are rendered with much greater precision; gems fit into their settings more securely; rings with multiple-part designs come together “perfectly,” he said.
3D printing is one of the biggest trends at CES. The show floor has more 3D printer manufacturers than I thought even existed. The best-known of these exhibitors is MakerBot, which announced new advances in printing precision and size.