While we would love to get crafty and make our own personalized jewelry, we don't really have the resources, the skills, or the time. As for 3D-printing something — where would we even begin? A company called Trove has the answer: It lets you design and 3D-print your own metal jewelry. But Trove handles all the messy work. Here's how it works. You go to Trove, choose a design, and click "customize." Then, you use on-screen sliders and drop-down menus to tailor your ring, bracelet, or necklace to your exact specifications. Next, you pick a metal. You can choose from brass, copper, or precious metals such as 14K gold or sterling silver. Jewelry prices start at $50 but go up depending on material. Once you buy your design, you're shipped a 3D-printed plastic model. This lets you check sizing and gives you a chance to tweak your design if necessary before your final, unique product is created and shipped to you. The final jewelry isn't technically 3D-printed; it's made using a process called investment casting. Trove's CEO and co-founder Brian Park explains: "The wax mold is 3D-printed (instead of handmade) and then a cast is placed around the mold and metal is poured in to cleanly burn the wax. The remaining metal in the cast is then the final jewelry piece." Yeah, we wouldn't be able to do that at home. Trove has a growing community of jewelry designers who have submitted designs that you can buy as is, or personalize to your liking. We went through the customization process with a sample ring ourselves. With 14K rose-gold plating, it came out to just over $75.
Park made sure the process is simple and approachable; you don't need a design or engineering background — or even previous 3D-printing experience — in order to build your jewelry. With the holiday gift-giving season around the corner (too soon?), a design from Trove could make a beautiful, unique present. We certainly won't judge if you give this gift to yourself, though.