The School of Jewellery, located at the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and part of the City’s University, combines strong links with the industry and a collaborative approach with technology suppliers to ensure that students have every opportunity to enhance their potential as designers.
Students here are encouraged to combine their practical skills with innovation and creativity, to push the traditional boundaries in all aspects of jewellery design and manufacture. This is clearly demonstrated in the stunning pieces produced by several students using the Additive Layer Manufacturing process.
Additive Layer Manufacturing has become an established manufacturing process in a wide range of industries including the Aerospace, Automotive and Medical sectors. Those outside of mainstream industrial manufacturing however, may not be aware that this technology is now finding its way into the intricate world of Jewellery manufacture. The flexibility of the process, where complex geometries and fine detail can be created, has given Jewellery designers not only new freedom of expression, but also the ability to produce multiple pieces in the shortest possible time. School of Jewellery students Georgia Ayley and Layla McCook are amongst a number of designers who have embraced the capabilities of the process to achieve the levels of intricacy and detail they had envisaged in their original designs.
Nature Meets Technology
Layla McCook believes that nature is the world's greatest designer and her inspiration is often evoked from innate and animate objects. The aim for her latest collection, "Rose Tinted Spectacles," was to combine feminine fluid forms that represented the soft, organic structures of rose petals with a fine intricate pattern – in places just 0.3mm wide - which characterised their delicate nature. With a very strong eye for detail, Layla pursues a perfectionistic approach to her work. In order to achieve this effect, she used Concept Lasers’ Mlab cusing system to build the pieces layer by layer.
This combination of innovative design with new technology has resulted in visually striking and intriguing, original bespoke pieces, designed with the high-end luxury market in mind. This is a testament not only to her designs but also demonstrates the capabilities of the Mlab cusing machine and the LaserCUSING process.
Layla envisages potential to further explore her designs using this technology and anticipates that in the near future, with the ongoing developments in additive layer manufacturing, that she will continue to produce pieces in 18ct white, rose and yellow gold
Georgia Ayley uses precious metals in collaboration with uncut and cut Gemstones, emphasising the natural beauty and sole quality of stones in her designs. Georgia’s Silver and Amethyst collection 'Damali' - Beautiful Vision, was inspired by the intricate designs of ivory chinese eggs.
Using the LaserCUSING process, Georgia was able to trap a precious Amethyst stone inside the pendant and earring capsules from this collection, creating unique pieces. Georgia explains “ being able to encapsulate the Amethyst within the pendant and earrings allowed me to produce pieces which are seamless with a smooth finish. The traditional method of producing pieces such as this would have required laser welding, resulting in a visible joint line. This technology inspires more creativity with shapes and forms and has allowed me to remain faithful to my original concepts and vision”
Georgia’s pieces illustrated above were built in Bronze and then silver plated. Other items from Georga’s collection, designed on CAD and manufactured using this process included a Cuff bangle, set with pink sapphires and citrines with a large uncut pearl.
Both Georgia and Layla worked in close collaboration with Colin Cater of ES Technology Limited, UK and Ireland distributors for the range of Concept Laser LaserCUSING machines. Colin used the company’s Mlab cusing demonstration machine in their Daventry facility to build the pieces and was also able to offer advice to the students on how to maximise the benefits which the technology could bring to their designs. The LaserCUSING® process is ideally suited to Jewellery manufacture, with its capability to create intricate geometries and profiles in a variety of materials including precious metal alloys. The speed with which Jewellery items can be produced, literally means design today – ready tomorrow.