For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel's team of global category analysts.

Argos has launched a range of customisable jewellery online. The new range is available to buy from a dedicated customised jewellery website and includes bangles, pendants and rings all of which can be customised using 3D printing technology. Prices start at £50 and rise to over £200, depending on the item. Argos has partnered with 3D printing experts Digital Forming for the venture.

Head of Digital Innovation Neil Tinegate said ‘We are excited by the potential for our customers to get creative in developing their own bespoke products. We are starting with jewellery, but see applications for lighting, homewares and other areas in the future.’

So will the launch be a success story that has been a long time coming? We take a look…

Tamara-SenderTamara Sender, Senior Clothing Analyst at Mintel

Argos’s move into this innovative area proves that even mainstream retailers are seeing 3D printing as an opportunity and this is a clever way for the retailer to interest a younger customer in its jewellery collections.

Bespoke jewellery is a growing trend, with 22% of young UK jewellery buyers aged 16-24 wanting to buy precious metal jewellery that can be personalised and 33% of all UK jewellery buyers liking unique designs, according to Mintel’s Watches & Jewellery Retailing UK, 2014 report. Customers are looking for pieces to stack and layer together to create their own personalised designs.

Mintel predicted last year that innovations such as 3D printing offered huge opportunities for the jewellery market and would make it easier for consumers to buy personalised jewellery that is truly bespoke. One reason that 3D printing has genuine commercial potential is that consumers are craving some individuality and tangibility and it allows people to produce individual, one-off items at a relatively low cost.

Argos has been focusing on reviving its image in the jewellery world and Mintel’s latest research found that Argos had overtaken H Samuel to become the most popular place for 25-44s to buy precious metal jewellery. The retailer’s entry into 3D printing shows that it is being innovative and this will help it to stand out from the crowd and grab further share from high street jewellery chains.

R-Cope-image-circleRichard Cope, Senior Trends Consultant at Mintel

3D printing will ultimately prevail because it promises personalisation – something today’s consumers deem to be a right, rather than a privilege. We live in a world where some past digital innovations – audio files and Kindles for example – have removed opportunities for us to express our individuality through physical books or albums, thereby placing greater emphasis on the need for homewares, fashions and jewellery to celebrate our tastes and personalities.

In this way 3D printing counters the conundrum whereby digital technologies had previously both celebrated and denied individuality at the same time. Argos’s entry follows that of the Post Office in offering 3D printed products on the high street and we expect a host of others to follow, with 3D ‘Print and Collect’ stores one of our key 2015 Predictions in E@sy Street.

Mintel’s Senior Clothing Analyst, Tamara researches and writes Mintel’s reports on all aspects of the UK clothing market. Before joining Mintel in 2010, Tamara worked as a news reporter at William Reed Business Media with particular emphasis on retail and leisure markets.As a multi-lingual journalist, Tamara has written for several national and international titles in both the UK and Latin America.

Mintel’s Senior Trends Consultant, Richard works as a trends analyst, consultant, presenter and facilitator on bespoke client projects. As a globally recognised leading trends commentator, he is regularly called on by media worldwide to provide insight and analysis into consumer trends.