Here are some helpful tips to consider when ordering and caring for your 3D printed metal jewelry.
PLATED FINISHES VS. UNPLATED METAL
While Shapeways does offer plated finishes (14k, 18k, Rose Gold, etc) I don’t offer these as default options as the plating can wear off over time, revealing the polished brass base underneath. The default finishes I do offer are also very similar to the plated gold colors. See the below guide to selecting a metal color:
- Polished Brass- Has a lovely golden hue, similar to a 14k/18k gold
- Polished Silver- A vibrant pale silver hue, similar to sterling or white gold
- Polished Bronze- A pale, golden-pink hue, similar to rose gold but slightly more peachy than pink
CARING FOR YOUR JEWELRY
Over time and with extended wear, you can expect your jewelry to oxidize. Shapeways doesn’t add chemical lacquer after casting so you can expect your jewelry to age gracefully, a feature that many people love. If however, you prefer to keep your jewelry polished and pristine looking you can use jewelry cleaners and/or a polishing cloth from time to time. Here are two that I recommend:
Cape Cod Polishing Cloths- moist polishing cloths that clean, polish, and protect any type of metal.
Blitz 303 Metal Care Cloth- a 100% cotton flannel (dry) cloth that is specially treated for the care, cleaning, and polishing of soft metal.
WARNING: If your piece has a stone or bones set into it, please be careful as these are often materials that are softer than metal and may be scratched by the abrasive nature of jewelry cleaners or polishing cloths.
FAQ ABOUT 3D PRINTED JEWELRY
Q: It appears you only sell ring sizes 6, 7 and 8 however I’m between sizes. Is it possible to have a ring a different size or a half-size?
A: Of course! By default, I only offer ring size 6, 7 and 8 on my site because these are the most common ring sizes. However, I’m always happy to add a half-size or a size outside of the 6-7-8 range at no additional charge. The only case where I may need to charge a little more is if the ring is MUCH larger; a size 13, for example, may increase the material consumption enough that I need to up the price a little but I will let you know
that upfront when you inquire about a different size. You may contact me here to request additional sizes.
Q: I’ve noticed that when I wear certain rings that it turns my skin green? Does this mean I’m allergic to the metal or that it’s defective?
A: Not at all, this is perfectly normal! Most people’s skin undergo a chemical reaction when exposed for long periods of time to copper and copper is a primary element in both brass and bronze metals and is actually what helps to give its golden color. The chemical reaction happens faster when moisture is introduced. The green color can be easily rubbed off or washed off with soap and water and will not stain your skin permanently.
Q: After some wear, I’ve noticed that my jewelry has a couple dark brown and green spots on it. Can I remove this?
A: This is part of the natural oxidation or “aging” process of metal. This occurs when the metal is exposed to air and moisture over time. To remove these spots, I recommend using the polishing cloth as mentioned in the above section. You can rub the cloth on these small areas to reduce/remove the spot. These are the types of oxidation/aging you can expect with each of the common metals I offer my products in:
- Polished Brass- Deep green and dark brown spots will appear over time.
- Polished Silver- Charcoal colored tarnishing will appear over time.
- Polished Bronze- Dark brown spots will appear over time (sometimes green as well but it’s not as prominent as it is on brass.)
Q: I thought 3D printing was very fast. Why does it take more than a week before my order ships?
A: One of the greatest benefits of utilizing 3D printing is that designers can create designs much faster and without large MOQ’s (quantity minimums) and investment in costly molds, thereby reducing waste and allowing them to create highly unique and customizable designs as we don’t have to worry about having to make something that is mass-marketable. When you’re ordering from a retailer like Amazon, you’re ordering product that was made months ago and has been sitting in a warehouse, waiting to be purchased. When you order a 3D printed item, that part is being manufactured to order and in the cases of custom or customized designs, its being designed, 3D modeled and 3D printed, all in that 1-2 week window before you receive it. Sure, it’s not going to arrive overnight and we sure can’t compete with Amazon Prime in terms of speed but the beauty is that we don’t have to. We don’t have a warehouse full of inventory that we need to sell. The use of 3D printing has allowed independent designers to deal directly with their customers, creating products that are highly unique, which you won’t find on Amazon.
In terms of how most of my designs are actually made, here is a little more about the manufacturing process itself. With the exception of a few pieces that I sell on my Toolry shop through Shapeways, most of my jewelry is made through a very old jewelry manufacturing process called lost-wax casting. Prior to the invention of 3D printing, hand jewelers used to carve wax by hand to create their designs. While this is still a common practice for some jewelers, many have replaced the hand carving process with 3D modeling. The 3D model can then be
printed in castable wax which is then sent through the same lost-wax casting process that has been utilized for decades. So, while your brass, bronze or silver piece of jewelry was created through 3D printing, the actual piece itself wasn’t 3D printed, it was cast in metal from a 3D printed wax model.
Q: Are there any pieces on your site which ARE directly 3D printed?
A: Some of my larger pieces of jewelry, like the Vertebrae ring are made through direct 3D printing. Anything that is being offered in STEEL is 3D printed using a method where alternating thin layers of powdered steel and a binding agent are printed. The part is then baked in a furnace which burns out the binding agent and then liquid bronze is infiltrated into the part. This process results in an irregular, highly pitted (totally gorgeous), rough surface which is then polished by hand to satin sheen. Due to the very delicate nature of the 3D printed steel part before its baked and bronzed, I am only able to use this method for the heftier pieces that I do. However, this method is also more cost effective so I can create much larger pieces while still maintaining a reasonable price.