Diamonds are forever…diamonds are a girl’s best friend…we’ve all heard the songs. When I was newly engaged, I would keep a running tally in my head of all the places my ring sparkled the most, like under the fluorescent lights of the Home Depot store, or while resting my hand prettily on the dashboard of my car on a sunny day. Way before that, in my early college days, my girlfriends and I would sometimes stroll around the mall, occasionally stopping at jewelry displays and playing our “I’d Say Yes to THAT Ring!” game together; don’t judge, obviously we are all much more mature now. But there’s no doubt about it, there’s something about walking into a jewelry store and being surrounded by beautiful, twinkling diamonds that just makes you feel a little more elegant. If you know your rocks, then you know that Antwerp, the largest port city in Belgium, is the place to go: 85% of the world’s diamonds are traded in the centuries-old Diamond District, home to square-cut and pear-shaped diamonds alike. Antwerp is also home to mass customization startup Twikit, which offers creative personalization options for gifts.
Twikit offers retailers online tools that allow their customers to easily customize designs, like 3D printed cuff links and the world’s first customizable 3D printed electric shaver. The startup built its own 3D customization engine, and its associated apps allow people to easily try their hand at 3D customization. Retailers have access to both product design and engineering services, and, using Twikit’s software platform, are able to fully integrate the customization into their existing business. Twikit recently partnered with Antwerp-based Baunat, one of the few online diamond jewelry brands in the world, to release a new tool that allows high-end diamonds to be customized.
Twikit CEO Martijn Joris told 3DPrint.com, “Twikit has been involved in the game of 3D printed and customized jewelry for years now, and we are happy to see a fast growing luxury brand like Baunat stepping in with their diamond collection. For us, this is how luxury brands will offer personalized jewelry in a digital experience. The customer of today wants a unique piece, shown through a crystal-clear visualization before making a purchase.”
As noted in a recent Twikit blog post, there are over 3,000 diamond cutters and merchants in Antwerp’s Diamond District, and the only form of automation used in the craft of cutting diamonds is a cell phone or calculator. But Baunat, founded in 2008, wants to introduce cutting-edge 3D printing technology to the district, though this isn’t the first time we’ve seen diamonds paired up with 3D printing. The online merchant directly sources and trades its diamonds, purchasing the gems from cutters and selling them to investors and consumers through its website: this practice actually lowers the cost of the diamonds.
According to Made In Antwerpen, in 2015 Baunat exported nearly 90% of its jewelry to over 45 countries. As such, it was the first Belgian company to appear on, and win, the Cross-Borders e-Commerce list in 2016. The company was already considered a pioneer in online diamond sales, and wanted to extend its online presence by giving its customers the opportunity to buy customized diamonds online. So, Baunat partnered with Twikit to create Baunat Customized, so customers could personalize high-end, handmade diamond necklaces.
You can just type your name in, choose your metal (either 18 Kt white gold, red gold, or yellow gold), and the Twikit tool will write your name in diamonds. Once you place your online order, the file is sent to the printer, and a custom SLA 3D printed mold is created. Then, Baunat will cast the mold in wax, polish it, and turn it into a beautiful jewel necklace by adding the cut diamonds, which are G VS2, certified, and conflict-free. The personalized diamond necklaces are 3D printed and handmade right in Antwerp. After researching the tool online, it looks like the price of these high-end necklaces goes up or down depending on how many letters are typed in, and not which metal you choose.
The Twikit tool lets customers personalize their diamonds in a fun and easy way, so people can have quality, customized pieces. Antwerp’s Diamond District is built on tradition, but Twikit and Baunat are using mass customization and innovative 3D printing to reforge an old industry in a new way and disrupt the District. Baunat is also using 3D printing for prototyping, so it can take the feedback received from customers and quickly integrate it into their design process. It’s been doing pretty well with the integrated Twikit software, and will “continue to work hard to bring transparency and direct prices to diamonds.”[Sources: Twikit, Made in Antwerpen, Baunat Customized]