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Image courtesy Evotech Pacific
Image courtesy Evotech Pacific

Tools and tech: the jeweller’s latest must-haves

A slew of tools, machinery and equipment has emerged this year to give jewellers a serious competitive edge. TALIA PAZ reviews the latest innovations.

In an uphill battle against cheap offshore manufacturing, the right tools can help bench jewellers and retailers to compete by improving the quality, speed and efficiency of their work and services, boosting margins in the process.

Anthony Nowlan, director of jewellery technology company Evotech Pacific, believes there are many technological innovations for jewellers to be excited about, especially where new services are concerned.

“We have just released two new software programs to assist manufacturing and retail jewellers – Evotech Marketplace and the Evotech Vendor Store,” he says.

“The Evotech Marketplace enables retail jewellers to upload a brief of their requirements, including images and sketches. The brief can then be distributed to registered designers who can view it and provide a quote. Registration to the marketplace is free for both retailers and designers,” he adds.

Nowlan points to the Evotech Vendor Store as an online sales channel for jewellers who want an uncomplicated e-commerce solution.

“The Evotech Vendor Store is an e-commerce website for jewellers who don’t have a website or don’t have an e-commerce facility on their sites,” he says. “Retailers can register their business names and upload images of their pieces then use the Vendor store to sell these pieces.”

Rapid Casting is another company focusing on service innovation.

“We have introduced the first automated online ordering and tracking system for CAD/CAM and casting order placement,” production manager Ben Farago says.

“Our system provides customers with live quoting and an online gallery of their previous jobs for easy re-ordering. We also provide the fastest overnight printing and casting with door-to-door delivery and online order tracking.”

Farago believes service innovation provides large benefits to retailers, boosting efficiency and customer retention: “By streamlining access to these services, we’ve created opportunities for jewellers to improve their productivity and make their businesses more responsive to customer needs.”

Another innovation from Rapid Casting is web-based portal LiveDesign.

“LiveDesign allows for interactive ordering and customisation of classic style engagement rings and to generate 3D models in real-time,” Farago notes. “We felt we were solving the problem of producing standard designs to fit customer needs perfectly, rather than trying to rework a stock piece.”

Chris Botha is the operations manager of Pallion’s jewellery division. He explains how his company’s ‘knowledge repository’ will make life easier for jewellers.

“Technology has introduced faster and smarter ways to derive the origin point of manufacturing, in the guise of CAD and CAM advancements, but developers of technology have overlooked a critical component: the art of model making – how to make a jeweller’s design work perfectly for casting.

“We will offer this knowledge in various free-to-access formats, including web platforms, mobile apps and CAD plugins, where our teams will address common recurring problems and share the extensive knowledge they possess. This will help jewellers become better users of the technology,” he adds.

 

Electrical factory outlet
Electrical factory outlet
Olympus Innov-X
Olympus Innov-X
Chemgold
Chemgold

Chemgold
Chemgold
Palloys - Pallion
Palloys - Pallion
Tino Vella Designs
Tino Vella Designs

New products galore

Olympus Innov-X is a leading manufacturer of portable, precious metal analysers. Sales specialist Andrew Saliba believes the company’s latest range of analysers will be especially useful for jewellers.

“Products in our latest Vanta range are drop-tested to help prevent breakages and costly repairs. They also have an intuitive gesture driven interface, which works like most modern smartphones,” Saliba explains. “The gold-plate alerts feature detects possible gold plating or coating when analysing the composition of gold pieces. If the analyser determines that there is a possibility of gold coating or plating, it notifies the user by displaying an on-screen message.”

Tino Vella of Tino Vella Designs (TVD) supplies glass display cabinets to the jewellery industry. When asked about the company’s latest innovations, Vella offers the following comments: “The TVD Luxury Showcase range was developed as a result of various requests to provide display units, suitable for the high-end retail market and available for long and short term hire.

“We have included adjustable colour temperature LED lighting; this allows retailers to select the correct colour temperature to match the jewellery they are displaying. The lighting of our showcases can easily be adjusted to whatever lighting temperature is required at a touch of a button.”

“The inclusion of rotating display bases is another innovation we have added as an optional extra,” he continues. “These allow jewellers to highlight the facets in diamonds and add that extra amount of shine and sparkle. Rotating displays also allow the merchandise to be viewed from every angle.”

Vella says the company’s newest showcases highlight innovations in security, materials and construction.

“With Bi-Lock security key systems, laminated secure glass and solid stainless steel construction, our showcases display jewellery to its full potential while also keeping jewellery secure – perfect for pop-up or industry events,” he adds.

Chemgold provides 3D printing and casting services to jewellers. Director Larry Sher outlines some of his latest equipment and service innovations.

“Chemgold has continued to expand its huge range of 3D printers in order to cater for the increase of jewellers aiming to produce their jewellery via CAD/ CAM,” he says. “We also have invested in additional platinum-casting technology to take our quality to the next level.

“This was a key factor in developing our revolutionary platinum-casting alloy ‘PTG’, which has incomparable qualities, innovative material properties and outstanding workability. With a brilliant white colour, PTG is easier for setting, has a superior polishing performance and a higher precious-metal content.”

Sher attests that Chemgold’s innovations save jewellers time and money: “Jewellers save a huge amount of time on the bench and are also ensured an overall higher quality piece of jewellery from casting in the long run. Other benefits include less metal wastage and more precision.”

Expanding possibilities

So how do the above tools help jewellers improve and expand on opportunities?

For Saliba, it’s about ease of use. “Our range of desktop and portable XRF analysers are extremely simple to use and provide laboratory comparable elemental analysis. XRF testing method is completely non-destructive and there is no need to use dangerous acids,” he says.

“Axon technology provides test-to-test and instrument-to-instrument repeatability so your first test is the same as your last test, no matter what instrument you may use – even a five-second test provides adequate results for most customers.”

Greg Brennan is the director of Electrical Factory Outlet (EFO), a supplier of lighting for retail stores and display cabinets that, Brennan claims, can boost store traffic.

“As EFO is very new to the jewellery industry, we bring fresh ideas around lighting and displays,” he says. “This year, we are launching our jewellery merchandising light Scintalite. It has been designed to maximise the natural brilliance of diamonds and gems by turning a static, diamond store-display into an impressive glimmer of shining light – we’re invested in helping jewellers capture greater customer attention and drive more store traffic.”

Abraham Tok of Sydney-based Tok Brothers offers CAD/CAM services to retailers. He believes 3D printing is one technology that will only improve.

“We recently expanded our fleet of 3D printers by adding a new FormLabs 2 3D printer. This has allowed us to 3D-print more models at faster speeds without compromising on quality,” he says.

Tok notes that his business has also started using a synthetic diamond screener.

“We’ve started using an advanced Presidium synthetic diamond screener that allows us to quickly and accurately test diamonds – loose and mounted – in front of our customers,” he says, adding, “Using this also protects us from the rising instances of synthetic diamonds being mixed with naturals. This shows transparency to our clients and gives them even more confidence in us.”

Nowlan also believes in the value of 3D printing.

“We have specifically seen an increase in jewellers utilising 3D printing, including the Asiga range of 3D printers,” he says. “Jewellers who are utilising this technology benefit from the ability to control the model manufacturing capability in-house and also check prototypes to identify potential design faults or issues prior to casting. This leads to a greater chance of success in the manufacturing process.”

Desma Noble, a goldsmith and jeweller who owns Desma Designs, believes jewellers should be aware of innovations in welding technology also.

“The techniques of making and repairing jewellery have barely changed for hundreds of years but new welding technology is changing that,” she says. “Electronic-fusion welding in jewellery enables a relatively instant, clean join with precise control through a digital interface and microscopic accuracy.”

According to Noble, the benefits are large.

“These techniques can bring incredible productivity to a jewellery workshop as very fine and delicate jewellery can be more easily repaired – metal joins can be within a millimetre of heat-sensitive gems and less oxidisation means very little finishing required,” she adds.

Evotech Pacific
Evotech Pacific
Olympus
Olympus

Palloys - Pallion
Palloys - Pallion
Palloys - Pallion
Palloys - Pallion

 

Looking ahead

The general consensus among the suppliers included here is that innovations are easing the burden and cost of manufacture and design and that these innovations should continue in coming years.

Botha sees the future as a melding of old and new technologies. “More Australian jewellers requiring low to mid-levels of product supply are leveraging online platforms,” he says. “These volumes will not be entertained by offshore manufacturers, so we’re seeing a marked increase in model-making and finishing in Australia. This is great news for the industry!

“We will also see direct-metal printing and direct-mould printing,” he continues. “As per all other technologies, this will become cheaper and faster.”

Sher concurs but believes such innovations might still take time to emerge here.

“Direct metal printing could be an option if it becomes economically viable – currently, the machines are extremely expensive to run and the quality is not at the standards required,” he says.

Vella notes that Tino Vella Designs is working to ensure power leads and cables become a thing of the past.

Tino Vella Designs
Tino Vella Designs

“We are exploring the possibility of incorporating portable batteries into our showcases – this will mean that our showcases will no longer be restricted by location,” he says. “We are also producing a prototype for a glassless, open-display showcase with removable LED stem lighting, as well as a tabletop display cube that would work perfectly for product-launches,” he adds.

Brennan also sees the lighting industry continuing to innovate: “Lighting efficiency and LED driver technology is continually developing so any range of lighting effects imaginable will be possible.”

Noble believes that coming technological innovations will embrace broader and “more diverse” applications within the industry.

“I hope one day we will see fusion-welding technology as commonplace but Australia is still catching up in this regard,” she says. “The technology is still a reasonably big investment for smaller workshops, but I hope the affordability will improve as it becomes more common-place.”

Speedy advances in technology mean new tools, machines and equipment continuously enter the market but technology means little if jewellers lose the original, emotional aspects behind jewellery manufacture.

After all, jewellers can work with all the tools in the world but they should also embrace the most important tool of all – the human touch, Botha says. “While we will continue to invest in newer technologies to aid our processes, we will also concentrate heavily on the most important – the ‘human’ technology.”

A December 2017 Forbes article succinctly sums it up: “There are technological ideas emerging and developing that will be highly impactful. These new ideas and software will affect almost every store experience in the future, they will change what it means to go to a store and they will make store experiences more worthwhile than ever,” writes Richard Kestenbaum.

“However, the most important thing will always be the products and services offered for sale. Technology can facilitate the connection between the product and the consumer but the main event is always going to be whether the consumer and the product are right for each other.”

After all, technology is a useful and necessary tool but still just a tool.

The final say
Here, retailers and suppliers lay down their concluding thoughts on the latest jewellery and equipment innovations.
“We are in the initial beta phase of our ‘knowledge repository’ and we have asked all of our users to join the platform. What these improvements give to jewellers is the most valuable resource – time.”
- Chris Botha, Pallion
“We have recently become a reseller of BlueCast, a producer of 3D printer resin, which will facilitate our customers’ requirements for a universal resin that suits the majority of resin printers.”
- Larry Sher, Chemgold
“We are currently producing a prototype for a glassless, open-display showcase with removable LED stem lighting, as well as a tabletop display cube that would work perfectly for product launches.”
- Tino Vella, Tino Vella Designs
“We are currently witnessing an increase in the development of metallic powders used in 3D metal printing and an experimentation with new powder alloys. When combined with some of the new 3D metal printers, higher resolution, direct to manufacture pieces are being produced.”
- Anthony Nowlan, Evotech Pacific

 











ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Talia Paz • Staff Journalist

Talia Paz is a staff journalist for Jeweller, and has more than three years' experience as a freelance journalist for national and international publications, covering a wide range of industries.









Thursday, 18 October, 2018 10:25pm
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