Making of the icon stud earrings


Just like carefully coded icons in digital interfaces, these stud earrings have been user tested, iterated and prototyped to pixel perfection to bring you the first piece in your very own wearable interface.

HI Jewellery started with an idea and a survey.

To test the designs before prototyping them, we sent out a survey to our online community to see which computer interface icons they preferred.

icons survey results graph.png
icon survey results.png

The outcome of the survey helped us choose our first round of 3D printed jewellery.

The top 5 winners were...

  1. Cloud upload
  2. Pointer
  3. Location
  4. Settings
  5. Image

3D design

3D printing requires a 3D object computer file - which a 3D engineer/designer to make in their CAD (computer aided design) software - or you can find someone with a 3D scanner who can 3D scan an existing object that you wish to replicate. Once you have the 3D file you can print it in almost anything!

3d icons.png

After creating the 3D object files of the earrings we did some 3D renders - and animations - to see what materials looked great. 

We also had a bit of fun creating an animation of all the earrings floating in space! 

You don't just push ‘print’ 

HIJ strives to only work with the best 3D printers available. This process requires countless rounds of testing, prototyping and experimenting to find the right printer for the design. We're committed to providing the best 3D printed jewellery on the market. 

But this isn’t achieved without some of the challenges. 

earrings prototypes.jpg

Size was the biggest obstacle.  A lot of 3D printers turned the designs away because the earring posts are so small, 0.8mm. Many of them thought we were mad to want to 3D print earring posts “why don’t you try more traditional methods, solder the backs on” etc. A couple of 3D printers did some test prints and sent photos showing the tiny posts all wobbly and rough, it wasn’t looking so good.. But after over 50 test prints one manufacturer, based in Boston USA produced a “pixel perfect” strong and lightly polished 3D print! Success! 

However, this was only in surgical titanium (Ti64), which is great for people with allergies, but not a precious metal. We wanted to offer gold and silver earrings too, 3D printed using the latest techniques with at an affordable price. (Not much to ask. Right?! :P ) 

titanium dmls icon earrings.jpg

Because precious metal Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), a type of additive 3D printing, is still so new (2015) the prices to manufacture are high.  HIJ had made the decision to use an alternative type of 3D printing to keep the cost down. The gold and silver icon earrings are printed by material jetting - where the form is 3D printed in castable wax - then cast.  

Image from:

Image from:

The icon earrings

These original HI Jewellery pieces are the first in our collection bringing digital experiences from the computer screen to life. 

What you wear shows the world what you value. 

Tell the world that not only are you the future, you’re making the future. 

icon earrings.jpg
Amelia Diggle