A picture is worth a thousand words, but now users of the social media app Instagram can turn their snapshots into jewelry.
Italian jewelry designer Michele Marzotto and engineer Gianpiero Riva recently debuted JewelGram, a company that creates rings and pendants from customers’ Instagram pictures. It is currently partially funded by Kickstarter.
JCK spoke to Marzotto to find out how it works.
JCK: When and how did you come up with the idea?
Michele Marzotto: The idea came about eight months ago. My business partner, Gianpiero, and I have combined two passions and two specific creativities. I am a jewelry designer with a degree in history of jewelry, and he is an electronic engineer and a creative software developer.
An intuition was born during a dinner with a glass of wine in hand. We said, “Why not try? In the end no one before us had tried.” The intention was to be able to share photos in a completely different way.
JCK: Can you tell me more about the design process and technical aspects of the pieces?
MM: The design process began with the shape. I designed the JewelGram studying the forms used by Apple for its products. I wanted to find a shape that even [on] a subliminal level was immediately recognized as a friend. For this reason I chose to start from the shape of application icons. After I found the basic shape, I focused on the study of the size.
The attention to details is very high for each type of material from the plastic to the most precious metal, gold. We engrave the JewelGram logo on the shank, the inner lining with a perforated detail of the logo, and the choice of an alternative solution for making measurement of the shank.
The technique used for printing photos is called sublimation, which allows us to marge the jewels with the photo. This technique is the most suitable for this purpose but has required continuous tests and corrections to achieve the quality that we are able to ensure today.
The JewelGram collection will also expand to additional models, such as bracelets, earrings, and cufflinks for men.
JCK: What is the price range of the jewelry?
MM: The price range of JewelGram is between $16.99 and $1,999.99. The plastic pieces are sold for $16.99; then there are silver pendants for $39.99 and silver rings for $59.99. The gold pendant is sold for $1,299.99, and the gold ring goes for $1,999.99. We also offer customizations, which include the additions of diamonds.
JCK: So far, about 100 million users have shared over 4 billion pictures via Instagram! What do you think attracts consumers to the social media site? Is a picture really worth 1,000 words?
MM: This is very true. For example, if I use Twitter in my native language [Italian] I can communicate only with people in the world who speak my same idiom. This means my tweets rarely exit from my country's physical bounds. But if I post a picture of my new baby on Instagram and I tag it #newborn it receives immediate attention with hundreds of thousands of people who have hashtagged the same thing—while I'm writing there are more then 300,000 pictures tagged. So Instagram is based on the most universal communication system: pictures. And with JewelGram we went a step beyond. We thought that if it's true that "Diamonds are forever" it's also true that "A picture is forever."
Photo courtesy of Michele Marzotto