One of the best placements I’ve seen for a client in my career – Forbes wrote this amazing writeup on our client American Pearl. Congrats to Dave Hochman for lining up this one!
How A Jewelry Company Is Making $250,000 Pieces Using 3D Printing And Google Earth
It’s taken the fashion and accessories industries a little longer than others to cotton on to 3D printing, the disruptive technology changing manufacturing and medicine.
Second-generation jeweler Eddie Bakhash, CEO of American Pearl, aims to shake up a $275 billion industry using the combination of proprietary computer-aided design (CAD) software and a Solidscape T-76 3D printer.
Shoppers can completely customize their own design and have the finished product delivered in 3 or 4 days.
“We’ve had a great deal of difficulty competing with cheap labor overseas,” said Bakhash, whose father Charlie founded American Pearl in New York’s diamond district in 1950.
“Now, with the advent of our platform, we’re no longer taking off-the-shelf parts and welding. There’s no jeweler at a bench with a blowtorch. The cost and labor savings is phenomenal. And we’re empowering consumers to make jewelry in real-time.”
The process starts on AmericanPearl.com, or its sister site AmericanDiamondShop.com, where a customer is able to create a unique piece, whether a $400 pair of earrings or a necklace that goes for six figures.
A prospective buyer searching for a perfect engagement ring, for instance, would start by choosing from one of eight metal options (platinum? 18K rose gold?) then perhaps side stones (sapphire? emerald?) to bookend the diamond of his or her choice.
Of course, the diamond itself presents an overwhelming array of choices, from cut and weight to color and clarity.
“There are thousands of designs, millions of combinations and billions of permutations,” said Bakhash. “We have more jewelry for sale than Tiffany’s.”
After the customization process, the real magic happens — at least, for those awed by the marvels of modern technology.
American Pearl’s CAD/CAM software platform outputs a digital file that’s perfectly proportional, taking human error out of the equation. The company then produces a 3D printed model of the piece of jewelry, made of thermoplastic wax.
The customer’s chosen metal is then poured into this digitally-designed, precisely-proportioned mold. Once it hardens, the shopper’s gemstones are added and set by an expert jeweler based on his or her exact online specifications.
By cutting out most of the labor (and margin for error) in high-end jewelry design, American Pearl can have a piece delivered in 3 or 4 days, and for a cheaper price than its competitors.
Bakhash says he just sold a $105,000 3D-printed Diamond Riviera necklace to a tech entrepreneur, for instance.
“That would retail at somewhere like Cartier for $250,000, and you’d have to pay the jeweler another $10,000 because it would take two weeks to customize,” he said.
Bakhash now aims to find and exploit every niche in the jewelry industry using 3D printing, starting with charms — and aided by an unusual and rather ingenious design method.
“We had a customer enamored with Paris, wanting a charm to remember her honeymoon,” he said. Using Google GOOG -0.43% Earth, his team was able to create a perfect 3D scale model of the Eiffel Tower and place it atop a pearl.
Now other shoppers can buy this same charm customized to their own specifications, or suggest another landmark to be sized and scaled by Google Earth and rendered in wax then gold (or any other precious metal, of course).
“That’s the power of virtual inventory,” said Bakhash.
He added that he no longer fears competition from cheaper overseas manufacturers. “Everything is made in New York City,” he said. “We’re empowering consumers, and bringing jobs back.”