Friday, March 17, 2006

Engineering Jewellery

Long ago I had a look at various kinds of Jewellery designs. The designs I saw were uninspiring and dated. Considering that India is one of the biggest consumer of Gold and that too in jewellery form with a history dating thousands of years in jewellery design, this was totally unexpected. Through each of the designs I found there are only x number of patterns out there in the market. The forms of jewellery is also the same. I kept looking for innovation as the industry became more and more organised. But alas! No innovation in a product of such a high value!!! I believe the main problem is that currently the industry is dominated by artists rather than engineers.

Base of Jewellery Design
At the base of jewellery design are three basic items:
  1. Designing patterns (these form the elements): This aspect is more of the artist type of work where differnet designs are created through use of symmetry, forms and look. These we will call "elements".
  2. Designing links (that hold various elements together): If you observe different jewellery pieces (except the ring) you will find that various elements are meant to position themselves on the wearer's body. The links help positioning these elements and holding them together.
  3. Designing Clamps or holders for gems: The element comprises of gems or diamonds(sometimes it doesn't). These gems (and diamonds) are required to be held by clamps. These are of different types crab-like or ring-like and many more.

Two paths for innovation from Engineers!
First would be bringing CAD (Computer Aided Design) to this field. I think using CAD far more imaginatively designed links can be used. In fact engineers can effectively use their design skills to make the links the focus of attention (thus morphing them into elements) or submerge them totally so that they stay invisible to the observer.
Second would have (I believe) far reaching consequences. For example, imagine a necklace that can morph from a simple necklace into an elaborate bracelet or a watch! Or imagine a necklace that you can customize with a set of jewels! This will lead to buy once and use as many!! Girls can wear one configuation each day and never will people know its just the same necklace reconfigured!

The Future of Jewellery!
Of course human infatuation with jewellery will continue! (Ok, its female infatuation for jewellery and male infatuation for females!) However, in no way has the industry even scratched the surface of innovation. The answer to me seems to lie in increasing involvement of engineers in this field.