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Handcrafted by AI

Handcrafted by AI

“Handcrafted jewelry sold here!”

“Every piece is handcrafted with love and care!”

“Artisan-made jewelry over here!”

“No two pieces are the same. Every piece is meticulously crafted, piece by piece, by the jeweler!”

Within the world of fine jewelry, there is no greater title than a handcrafted piece, a one-of-a-kind work of art. The thought that someone spent hours hunched over a table, arranging every jewel with precision and care, going over every little detail with a fine-toothed comb, to create the necklace that graces your neck, makes this a labor of love. Would a 3D-printed and AI-designed piece earn the same acclaim? That’s for you to decide. 

We stand at a crossroads of leaving the traditions of the old world behind or embracing the innovation that awaits us. New tools such as AI (artificial intelligence) and AR (augmented reality) reimagine the way we do business and make jewelry. Some people choose to dive right in and welcome change with an open mind, but others tend to feel overwhelmed by the nostalgia of the way it was and cling to that feeling in a futile attempt to keep things the same. Today I want to talk about what the future of technology looks like as we continue to reshape the jewelry industry as we know it. 

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I believe that the biggest fear for the traditional nonbelievers and the seasoned jewelry makers, wary of AI’s influence on the industry, is that their very career and passion in life will soon be erased by technology. However, like Hélène Poulit-Duquesne, Chief Executive at the luxury brand, Boucheron, once said, “I’ve always fought to explain to them the hands of human beings are so important, they will always be at the center, but technology should be at the service of those hands” (Gomelsky, “Technology Could Turn You Into a Tiffany”). This isn’t a story about swapping humans for machines. It’s a story about innovation and cutting-edge technology’s impact on the way we design jewelry, the possibilities of production, and new means of creating art through jewelry.

For example, let’s say you have a lot of money to spend, and you want a customized necklace that goes above and beyond your partner’s expectations. With the help of AI, AR, and automation, you’ll design the necklace yourself and see a hyper realistic proof thanks to additive manufacturing. Maybe even attach an NFT tag to the piece so that it can be scanned by your phone to display a collage of pictures or a heartfelt montage that captures the moments you’ve cherished together. Then you live happily ever after and win at gift giving (Gomelsky, “Technology Could Turn You Into a Tiffany”).

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While I understand these tools obviously cater to the wealthy who can afford the high costs of 3D printing and custom jewelry, that doesn’t mean technology won’t expand the art of creating unique experiences with jewelry for everyone. Jewelry brands using Augmented Reality, much like Ulta’s virtual features that I discussed in my previous post, are increasing their sales and their audience by allowing customers to view the jewelry on themselves and style the pieces virtually. Anyone and everyone can use these tools to experience the beauty of the pieces through the power of technology. 

If you’re still a nonbeliever who thinks AI and other technologies will be the end of artistry in jewelry forever, I have the perfect story for you. 

Meet Bibi van der Velden. Based in Amsterdam, this designer has committed to handcrafting her entire jewelry collection, inspired by nature. The pandemic posed a significant challenge for getting her jewelry out into the world, so she had to act fast and adapt to a new landscape for the sales industry, focused on virtual platforms. It didn’t take long for her to add augmented reality features to her brand’s social media such as Instagram and to share her pieces with the world in a novel way. This allowed people to try on her jewelry without breaking quarantine. To stay on top of business, the brand’s managing director, Pien Rijpstra, hosts virtual client sessions equipped with AR tools that virtually transfer the collection into customers hands from their home office in Amsterdam (Gomelsky, “Technology Could Turn You Into a Tiffany”).

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Here, we see a designer who values the custom of making jewelry by hand with a personalized touch to every piece she makes, while still using the technology available to her to grow her business and keep up with the digital world’s rising influence. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D printing–all of it will never replace what the human mind is capable of. All the emotions, memories, and life experiences people carry into their art could never be replicated by a machine. It will never replace the skillful hands of a man who comes from a long line of jewelry makers, with the callouses to prove it. The nuanced imperfections only an artist’s hands create cannot be generated by technology. The purpose of technology is to make things easier, simpler, and more direct; it’s programmed to follow directions and produce streamlined results. So, let technology do what it does best– creating clear-cut, innovative solutions to life’s problems– and leave the creativity and the soul of the work to the artists. 

Citations:

Victoria Gomelsky. “Technology Could Turn You Into a Tiffany.” The New York Times, 23 April 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/23/fashion/jewelry-technology-augmented-reality.html. Accessed 19 March 2024. 

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