How can silver be ethical?

Going green with our production

 

Many of you may have noticed our new items being labeled as made from ethical silver with 3D printing. Making the green turn and focusing on sustainability has been our great aim. Partnered with 3D printing company Cloud Factory, we made a huge step towards that dream. Read below who is this Estonian startup, what exactly is ethical silver, and what will the future look like. 
 
Be inspired by Taavi Kikas from Cloud Factory / asking all things interesting: Triin Elias
 

Meet the partners who help us realize silver dreams: Marek, Kati and Taavi.

In 2012 you participated in Ajujaht – the largest business idea competition and accelerator in Estonia. What was your idea and why did you choose that format to start with?

 

I began my journey as an entrepreneur back in 2010 when we founded an IT firm ITBS. We had exciting opportunities to work with the public sector and one of the most memorable projects was to create an automatic mini-lab for a biotechnological laboratory to use safe cloud solutions for visualizing data. From there I had my first contact with machinery and 3D printing. I learned just how complex and costly it is to own and handle the devices. In general, it was an inspiring time. I had constantly new ideas coming in and eventually I was leading and developing 8 different projects. In 2012 we took them all to the Ajujaht accelerator. All 8 were selected among the Top100 ideas and we ended up in the final with two of them. It was a memorable journey that escalated a flow of even more ideas! Ajujaht is an excellent format to test your idea and get a crash course for building a successful Startup.

Which came first – passion for tech or business?

I can definitely say that technology has been my interest from early on. The business side grew along naturally since I have always dreamed about achieving something great and innovative in the field. And of course, I love to be in charge of my time and tasks. But as I dived into the futuristic world of 3D printing, I knew I had found my cup of tea. So from 2013, it has been my main activity, developing and teaching the technology. In 2014 our 3DPrinterOS got funding from the co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen. With his help, we created the world’s first 3D printer operation system that simplified the field tremendously. Today the enterprise works closely with such companies as NASA, Harvard University, Google, Bosh, and Microsoft who in total have produced over 1.8 million 3D prints. So even though my background is rooted in software development, the 3D tech brought me back to engineering and product development. 

What is Cloud Factory? Introduce your collective to our readers.

Cloud Factory is a cool space in Tallinn, that hides a futuristic machine that grows fine jewelry. On every hour you can find three enthusiastic colleagues there who are living and breathing in the rhythm of that innovative cloud-based machine and who call themselves the next generation goldsmiths. Our factory makes unique items for worldwide Youtube celebrities, artists, and for the coolest partners from Estonia and abroad. 

How did you end up making jewelry?

Jewelry came to us bit by bit. In 2016 I met Bam Margera for whom we developed the first 3D printed jewelry, inspired by Bam’s tattoos. While being active in TalTech’s innovation center, I met Marek – TalTech science team member working with new technologies and 3D printing of metals. We started working together. Meanwhile, my life partner Kati had a lot of connections with Estonian artists. Along with their managers, we developed the direction to produce artist’s merch. We learned about the segment and created personalized full service. I began to grow and the initial project along with the university’s scientists became a business. We started building our office and production rooms while waiting for our first very own metal printer to arrive in Estonia. I remember too clearly the emotions when the 0.25 million worth machine finally arrived and was placed in our workshop. Definitely the most breath-taking minutes of my life! And that’s how we began. Once you dive into the world with endless design opportunities, you can’t turn back.

What makes silver 925 ethical?

In our case the whole production line is ethical. Besides ensuring that our own factory is at its best, we get our raw materials from an Italian supplier who guarantees that the silver is bought as a byproduct from mining other metals, the mines do not use harmful explosives for the environment, will not affect the quality of soil water and are responsible for the sustainability of surrounding flora and fauna. The mines cannot use child labor and all workers are paid fairly and treated well. The Italian factory also maximizes recycled silver. 

But using ethical materials is only one aspect. We focus on being green throughout the whole production. We produce items only by order, printing in 3D directly from silver creates a minimum amount of leftover material. Compared to classical jewelry production, our technology reduces the emission of CO2 by multiple. We ensure that most of our used materials and packaging are made from organic materials and are recyclable. If dreams come true, we’ll open production centers in America and Africa, bringing the production to the local level and minimizing our ecological footprint even more. 

What has been the most challenging or surprising moment in becoming an entrepreneur?

I think I would never have guessed that after being active in the field of software engineering and 3D printing for over a decade, I’d find myself sitting behind a goldsmith’s bench polishing a ring or sketching an idea for a new jewelry model. I’m constantly surprised that we are connecting something so traditional like silversmithing with something revolutionary like 3D printing. 

 

Are you growing organically or working steadily towards a certain goal? What are you dreaming about?

Cloud Factory is aiming for high goals for sure. As far as we know, we are the only company in the world to offer jewelry directly printed in 3D with finishing. For the near future, we plan to offer gold items as well and launch our web platform. Soon we planning to expand to the US market by opening a second printing center that will hopefully be a part of our international production network. We wish to establish our ethical and sustainable production process as a standard in jewelry making. 

Shop here jewelry made locally here in Tallinn by an ambitious start-up founded by brilliant young Estonians. Enjoy items, that are produced ethically through out the whole process – from getting the raw material to packaging.