Designer Maker feature


How technology is transforming the jewellery industry: we talk to three designer makers to find out how Anarkik3D’s innovative haptic 3D modelling software is influencing their creativity.

There is a quiet revolution going on across Scotland and internationally as designer makers embrace the use of new technologies to create and produce innovative objects, including jewellery collections, for increasingly discerning consumers; and the technology behind this? Anarkik3D’s haptic 3D modelling software.

Award winning Anarkik3D Design 3D Modelling Software is unique. It exploits virtual touch technologies to create an intuitive interface for designer makers to interact digitally in 3D and combine their traditional making skills to experiment and make pieces that are fluid, organic and distinct.

Design for 'coral' necklace by Elizabeth Armour
Design for ‘coral’ necklace by Elizabeth Armour

Elizabeth Armour has been using Anarkik3D’s software since being introduced to it by a tutor in the final year of her jewellery and metalwork degree. Based in Dundee and describing herself as “a designer and maker of interactive, wearable pieces and bespoke commissions, Elizabeth was hooked from the start: “I was totally mesmerised by the haptics – the fact that I could really ‘touch’ the object on the screen was just so intriguing!”.

Keen to understand more, she visited Anarkik3D’s Edinburgh studio to spend a day learning how to use the software and since then has developed an in depth knowledge of the technology, often tutoring on Anarkik3D’s courses on 3D. “I really enjoy making experimental work and I love to combine traditional jewellery making techniques with this 3D technology to create unique, contemporary pieces” she says. “My influences come from my family, a mixture of artists and marine biologists; I find I am really lead by form and colour and so inspired by the natural world. My jewellery is usually organically designed and very bright and Anarkik3D’s software really enhances my creative process”.

Elizabeth was initially drawn to the software’s haptic – or touch – technology because of the ease with which it allowed her to create free form designs.  “My style of working is ‘design through play’, so the software allows me to create my designs straight away, real time and in 3D. There is no need to plan and mistakes are all part of the creative process – in fact some of my most beautiful designs have been the result of unintentional modelling!”.

'Coral' necklace, ring and earrings by Elizabeth Armour, 3D printed, finished by hand dying and set with fresh water pearls and silver
‘Coral’ necklace, ring and earrings by Elizabeth Armour, 3D printed, finished by hand dying and set with fresh water pearls and silver

“I incorporate the software into my creative process by designing my jewellery components on A3D software” says Elizabeth. “Next, I print these in 3D using a strong white and flexible plastic polymide. The resulting models are white canvasses which I then hand dye with brightly coloured, bold textile dyes. The next step to creating a truly bespoke item is to then adorn the piece with freshwater pearls and silver; and I finish off by working into the pieces further by hand to create a seamless finish”.

Possibilities are endless with Anarkik3D’s haptic software and are limited only by the designer maker’s imagination; and as no two pieces will ever be the same, it’s an extremely rewarding technology. “I have been able to create jewellery that back in art college I would never have thought possible” Elizabeth says. “And Anarkik3D’s technology has also given me so many exciting opportunities to explore other avenues – 3D modelling, 3D printing, teaching as well as 2D printmaking. I take a very experimental approach with my collections and with Anarkik3D I am both unlimited and uninhibited. It was an unknown technology to me, that I came across by chance but what opportunities it has given me. So give it a go! Of course there is a learning process, however learning to model in 3D is fun, colourful, exciting and embraces something a bit different. Trust me you will be hooked!”

Anarkik Creator Genna Delaney: necklace in 3D printed/dyed polyamide and cast units
Anarkik Creator Genna Delaney: necklace in 3D printed/dyed polyamide and cast units

And it was the playfulness of Anarkik3D’s software, that drew Genna Delaney to it too. A contemporary jewellery designer maker running her award winning business, Genna Design in Dundee, Genna initially met Anarkik3D CEO, Ann Marie Shillito, through the Association for Contemporary Jewellery. “After Ann Marie introduced me to the software, I began by playing with it and experimenting with its functionality and I soon realised how easy it is to use” says Genna.

“I absolutely love the haptic device as it’s so much more fun to use than other CAD software packages, which for me are too technical. Anarkik3D’s software allows me to really feel like I am sculpting the object in front of me – you never really know what you are going to come up with once you begin!”

Although Genna is at the early stages of using the haptic software as part of her design process, it is nevertheless opening up new ways for her to create more 3D sculptural jewellery in a fun, playful and affordable way.


Jewellery designed by Birgit Laken using Anarkik3D Design V3
Jewellery designed by Birgit Laken using Anarkik3D Design V3

This revolution is not only taking place within Scotland. Based in Haarlem in the Netherlands, contemporary art jewellery designer Birgit Laken was first introduced to haptic technology when she met Anarkik3D’s CEO many years ago. Birgit quickly became interested in this new technology Ann Marie was developing and over the years has kept pace with developments, has learnt how to use it and is now incorporating it into the design and creation of her pieces.

“At the time I didn’t know anything about computers and programming” says Birgit, “but I was intrigued by the possibilities for artists and designer makers of this new haptic technology so I was keen to learn more. As artists and designers we are so used to working with our hands to feel our creations take shape but this technology is giving us another way to explore this method. For me the fact it is affordable to acquire and easy to learn was so important – I could start using it straight away, without having to spend days learning to use the software”.

Wanting to make her work more spatial, to move away from creating flat 2D pieces, Birgit began to experiment with the haptic software to create 3D printed pieces that could be printed immediately and therefore didn’t require the traditional jewellery skills of folding, soldering or hammering. “Suddenly I could start designing in space – it was so new to me and such a joy!” she says. “And 3D printing very much reminded me of the ancient Japanese metal working technique I used for a while, Mokume-gane, which produces a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns – very similar to the way in which 3D printing builds layer upon layer of your chosen material”.

“What I really like about Anarkik3D’s haptic technology is that I can develop new ideas for pieces much more quickly and more cost effectively than with traditional jewellery techniques; so for example when I want to produce a small collection, I don’t have to make an upfront investment in expensive materials. I simply design the collection, contact the 3D print supplier and with a week the jewellery is delivered to me ready for hand finishing before sending them onto the client. Anarkik3D’s software has enabled designer makers like me to have the digital space and the time to develop new work quicker and more cost effectively”.

So as this quiet revolution picks up pace, keep an eye out for the possibilities it creates, both for way in which Anarkik3D’s haptics technology can shape the jewellery industry and for what this means for and the impact it has on those wearing these beautiful bespoke pieces.


Written by Cate Nelson-Shaw


3D Printed Jewellery designed using Anarkik3D Design programme
3D Printed Jewellery designed by Birgit (top), Elizabeth (middle) and Genna (Bottom) using Anarkik3D Design programme

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