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'Blue Skies and Singing Rings': Digital Technologies and Jewellery of the Future

Rapporteur's Report


Digital technologies have already impacted on the world of jewellery at a surprising and rapidly increasing rate. Since the first, tentative experiments with computer-aided design in the 1970s, through developments in computer numerically controlled manufacture in the 1980s and, critically, since the mid 1990s in rapid prototyping processes, the take up of all these technologies by the jewellery design and manufacturing community has accelerated to a degree that in view of the traditional values of the discipline is perhaps unexpected. It is fair to say that digital technologies now play some part, often the major part, in virtually every sector of jewellery design, manufacture and promotion, from that of the experimental artist-craftsman to that of the finest jewellery houses. The so-called ‘contemporary jewellery’ movement as a whole, however, has stood back from this development.


The Royal College of Art has a good track record in the area of jewellery research. Recognising this, in September 2006, the Royal College of Art established the Centre for Jewellery Research – an offshoot of the department of Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork and Jewellery and led by its former chair, Professor David Watkins. CJR, the first research centre to grow out of a studio discipline at the RCA, provides a working environment for a small number of researchers and their projects, funded by the AHRC, The Leverhulme Trust and the RCA Research Development Fund.

Within the Centre for Jewellery Research, research through digital technologies is a common factor: staff and research students actively explore and promote the use of advanced technologies through projects and expertise that range from the design and manufacture of new jewellery artefacts, through the development of innovative electronic devices, to the more academic, virtual reality reconstructions of ‘lost’ historic jewels. Discussions within the Centre itself, however, had identified recent technical developments in other sectors, including for instance, personal mobile communications devices, as opening up renewed opportunities for theoretical and, especially, practical research.

Read the report...

AHDS Methods Taxonomy Terms

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  • Art and Design


  • Practice-led Research - 2d animation
  • Practice-led Research - 2d graphic design
  • Practice-led Research - 2d illustration
  • Practice-led Research - 2d scanning
  • Practice-led Research - 3d animation
  • Practice-led Research - 3d graphic design
  • Practice-led Research - 3d modelling - vector
  • Practice-led Research - 3d modelling - vector - point cloud
  • Practice-led Research - 3d modelling - vector - surface
  • Practice-led Research - 3d modelling - vector - triangular network models
  • Practice-led Research - 3d modelling - vector - volumetric
  • Practice-led Research - 3d modelling - vector - wireframe
  • Practice-led Research - 3d Scanning
  • Practice-led Research - Texture design and mapping