Is 3-D Printing the New Face of Jewelry Making?

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- They say diamonds are a girls best friend, but what about computer design? A jewelry store is combining the two worlds by using 3-D print technology to make jewelry, instead of making it by hand.

Suz Somersall says she got the idea from classes she took in college, but not only has she turned it into a business, she hopes this type of design will get more girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math learning, or STEM, at an early age.

"I studied 3-D manufacturing at the Rhode Island School of Design," said Somersall. "That's where I first started taking classes."

As of October last year, she has been selling custom jewelry in her shop at Stonefield in Albemarle County, and it's all made through computer engineering.

"This 3-D printed piece was printed in plastic," said Somersall. "Then we take this model and send it to our mold maker and then we make a mold and then castings."

Or it is printed directly in metal, though metal printing is more expensive.

Most interesting about these products is the precision. Even printed directly in metal, the jewelry is just as flawless as if it was made by hand.

Somersall says it could be the future of high fashion.

"The more tailored a piece is to your body, the better it fits," said Somersall. "A lot of fashion designers are getting more interested in body scanning so you can 3-D print pieces of jewelry."

Not only has she created this business, Somersall says she wants to use it as a platform to get more women involved in engineering.

"We realized that jewelry design is a great way to get girls excited about learning mechanical engineering software," said Somersall.

She says she has learned that boys are six times more likely to take engineering in school than girls and women do not have high numbers in engineering careers.

"Women only occupy about 13 percent of occupations in computer and technology fields," said Somersall. "So it seems like there is a real need."

She is launching a Kickstarter campaign in September to create a website to make jewelry design lessons available to anyone who has Internet.

If you would like to shop Suz Somersall or learn more, visit the Stonefield Shopping Center or click the link alongside this story.

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