This Jewelry Store Lets You Order 3D-Printed Samples Before You Buy

I spend a lot of my time waxing lyrical about the applications of 3D printing. Mostly I talk about hobbyists or small businesses making bespoke stuff on Etsy. This week, though, I got to look at something a little different that uses 3D printing in a way that helps you, the customer.

Jenny Wu is a Los Angeles-based jewelry designer that uses her architectural background to create complex designs for her necklaces, rings and bracelets. Her company, Lace by Jenny Wu, 3D prints a lot of beautiful designs using SLS — Selective Laser Sintering — to essentially melt a powder into shape using lasers as well as printing them in a wax that can then be cast from silver. This gives a few different textures and grains to the final product that I think enhances the look of the piece.

A collection of 3d printed rings. Some in nylon, others in silver and bronze

Lace by Jenny Wu

Now, making jewelry from 3D printers is nothing new, even though I do particularly like the look of these specific rings. They look like something an elf would wear. What really caught my attention with Lace is the sample boxes for its rings. According to the company, rings are the most returned item, mainly because of sizing issues, but people look at the convoluted designs and aren’t sure if it will look good on their hand.

Lace leveraged the power of the 3D printers it already had to create nylon versions of its most popular designs that you can purchase for just $3 a ring or $5 for a pack of three. The samples are sent to you in any size you need and are yours to keep, whether you buy the full metal version or not. It gives you a chance to test fit the rings from your own home in the same way you could if you were in the store, without having to be in LA.

Close-up on a ring with a mobius twist

James Bricknell / CNET

The samples are made using the Fuse 1 SLS 3D printer from Formlabs and have a delicate feel that would be hard to reproduce on even the best 3D printers suitable for your home. The texture is perhaps a little rough, but these are samples, designed to be worn for a short period of time to get a feel for how the ring looks on your hand. My wife and I both tried the samples, and while they are much lighter than an average ring, you can immediately see how the real deal would look. The Amare ring shown in the picture above was my wife’s favorite, and while I love the Papilo ring in the top image, she didn’t like the way it sat on her hand.

Using 3D printing in this way is something new to commerce and its applications are far-reaching for both businesses and consumers alike. Having a cheap sample that you can hold in your hand and try on in the comfort of your own home is worth the extra few dollars you spend to get it, and when you do decide to buy the product you have a cool sample to keep as well. For Lace, it gets to expand its reach beyond the LA area and cut back on expensive returns, some of which are likely to be lost in the mail, or damaged as a result of travel. It’s a win-win for everyone.

3D printing is my passion and I love to see it used in a way that makes sense, and adds value to everyone. I really hope we see more of this in the coming years. If you are interested in trying a sample from Lace, then click the link above and go check it out. You can even get yourself $15 off the list price of your first order with the code CNET15. 

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