Questions & Answers
What kind of data are you using?
We are using the relief data of the world that is recorded by various satellites. This data is then mapped to country boundaries and processed for printing.
How close are the models to reality?
Since these models are based on real data they are very close. We just scale it down to a wearable and printable size. So peaks are smoothed so that they can be printed. Additionally the relief is scaled to a maximum height to maintain an aesthetic shape.
What exactly do the shapes of the geographical jewelry represent?
Our geographical jewelry represents the shape of countries (or sometimes regions). By shape, we mean the outline (the two-dimensional shape you see on a map) and the topography (the mountains and valleys). Our jewelry is “geographically correct” because the items are not artistic representations of geography but scientifically accurate models. Each piece of jewelry is designed by our complex computer program starting from NASA satellite data. For production of the jewelry, we use a machine called 3D printer which accurately turns our designs into realworld objects. This process guarantees that the end result is not only beautiful but also 100% geographically correct: Every feature visible on the geographical jewelry we produce corresponds to a real geographical feature in the countryside such as mountains, river deltas, and valleys.
What is the design process for geographical jewelry?
It all starts with lots of data. We have hundreds of Gigabytes of elevation data. This data usually generated by flying a satellite around the world and using a laser to measure precisely what the elevation of the land underneath is. Because we don't (yet) own our own satellite, we use publicly available data. All this data is fed into a computer program we developed. For each piece of geographical jewelry, our program cuts out those pieces that belong to a given country. Next, the data is cleaned (e.g. islands are removed), smoothed (because narrow gorges or pointy mountains wouldn't work well), and simplified (because we like simple). Finally, the program converts elevation data into a format suitable for our production machines.
How is the jewelry manufactured?
After the design process described above, we use a production process called “3D printing” to produce each geographical jewelry accessoirce. While you might have heard about 3D printers that you can buy for your home, 3D printers for making jewelry are much more complex and expensive machines. That's why we hand our design files over to a few trusted 3D printing services for turning our designs into physical products. If you use our jewelry selector you will be directed to one of our favorite 3D print services, Shapeways.com, to make the purchase. They will start a machine to manufacture your geographical jewelry accessoire on demand after your order.
What are the available materials?
Our geographical jewelry is available in silver, stainless steel (plain, or plated with bronze or gold), and a number of different polymers. Not every type of jewelry is available in every material. Earrings, for example, cannot be made in stainless steel because the production process for stainless steel does not work with such small pieces. Please use our jewelry selector to determine what materials are available for the accessoire of your choice. In addition, we are always exploring new production processes. Please write us at email@example.com to request a quote for geographical jewelry in gold, titanium, brass, bronze, or any other material.
What are the precise dimensions?
You can determine the exact dimensions of each item on the product page in our partner stores. For example, Shapeways.com lists the dimensions of our USA terrain pendant as 3.5 w x 1.86 d x 0.94 h in centimeters. Here is how this size is determined: The shape of the jewelry item is of course determined by geography, and so is the aspect ratio. We scale either the longest north-south bounding box or the widest east-west bounding box, whichever is greater, to 3.5cm for pendants, 2.1cm for earrings, and 2.0cm for cufflinks. For earrings and pendants, the hook is attached so that the accessoire will hang such that north is approximately up when you are wearing it.
Are the jewelry items “Made in USA”? (or “Made in X”)
Because the 3D printing production process with metals is complex and requires expensive equipment, we get help with it from experts. Several of the online retailers where our jewelry products are on offer (see a list here) are in fact our preferred 3D printing services. If you purchase our products from any of these services, please check directly with them about where their production facilities are located exactly. Broadly speaking, all production facilities are in Europe or North America. None of our products are “Made in China”. Because 3D printing is a highly automated process operated by highly skilled technicians, we can guarantee that none of our jewelry is made in a “sweat shop”.
How long does it take to ship a piece of geographical jewelry?
We are not selling geographical jewelry directly. The shipping times are determined by the online store where you purchase the jewelry. If you use our jewelry selector you will be directed to Shapeways.com to make the purchase. In our experience, Shapeways.com usually takes around 10 days for production. For details on shipping times and restricitons please the Shapeways' shipping information.
What are the shipping rates for geographical jewelry?
If you use our jewelry selector you will be directed to Shapeways.com to make the purchase. For their shipping prices and restrictions please see Shapeways' shipping information.
Is worldwide shipping available for geographical jewelry?
If you use our jewelry selector you will be directed to Shapeways.com to make the purchase. Please see their shipping information here. Note that your country might have import restrictions on jewelry and precious metals and that your country's customs might impose tolls or import taxes. Due to very restrictive customs regulations in Russia, jewelry can currently not be shipped to Russia. We have heard from many happy customers all over the European Union, USA, Canada and several South American countries, that shipping to there worked flawlessly.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material. Different materials are printed using different techniques, ranging from deposition of a liquid that is cured using ultraviolet light, to creating layers of powder containing a bonder that glues the material together at the desired places.
Do you offer wholesale quantities of geographical jewelry?
We are open to explore partnerships with businesses. Please get in touch with your inquiries, including questions for custom products that we don't yet offer. However, please do not expect large discounts on large orders: In our production process the cost per piece remains steady even for large quantities.
What exactly is the shape of the geographical mirrors?
The outline of each geographical mirror is the outline of the country or region you chose when you purchase the mirror. That means that the mirror is not rectangular or oval like most mirrors but has an irregular edge just like the country you ordered (countries with straight borders being the obvious excpetion). The outline of the mirror is identical to the shape the country takes up on a map. Please refer to our mirror product page for details about the available sizes of mirrors.
How are the shapes created?
First, the shape of the country/continent is extracted from a map as a sequence of lines. This path is then scaled down to an appropriate size and the borders are simplified and smoothed to a level appropriate for the size of mirror chosen. We especially avoid including details that result in sharp tiny edges (because nobody like sharp tiny edges). The resulting shape is drawn on a rectangular sheet of mirrored acrylic in such a way that the least amount of waste is generated.
How are the geographical mirros manufactured?
The design file we created is then send electronically to one of the production facilities of the worldwide factory network of Ponoko.com where skilled technicians operate a laser cutter which cuts the final shape out of the rectangular raw material. Afterwards, the mirror is wrapped securely and send to you directly from the factory.
Are the mirrors “Made in USA”? (or “Made in X”)
Because you cannot fold mirrors (obviously), the cost of shipping them across oceans is pretty huge! That's why we work with the awesome company Ponoko who give you access to a worldwide network of factories. That way, we can have the mirrors produced relatively close to you, meaning you save big time on shipping rates! Mirrors with European shipping destinations are generally manufactured in Germany, most other items are cut in the US. If you want a mirror shipped to somewhere outside Europe and North America, please drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will set you up with a custom order made in a factory in your part of the world.
What material are the mirrors made out of?
Our geographical mirrors are made out of acrylic (also known as “Plexiglass”). This material is lighter than real glass and doesn't shatter into a million pieces when you drop it.
Which projection is used to generate the mirror shape?
Depending on the map projection chosen, a country's shape differs on a map. Generally, we use Mercator projection—not because we think Mercator is a great projection (quite to the contrary, actually), but because this is the projection most people are familiar with and recognize. Before creating each mirror we do, however, consider many factors such as the aspect ratio of the raw material, the amount of distortion introduced by the projection, and of course your preferences. Sometimes this means that we end up using a different projection than Mercator. If you have a strong preference, please let us know using the notes field during the checkout process.
How to mount the geographical mirror to the wall?
Our geographical mirrors do not ship with any accessoires. This is an unfortunate side effect of our decision to ship mirrors directly from the factory to you (which reduces the end price you pay by almost half!) To mount the mirror to the wall we recommend high quality double sided tape. Alternatively, you can use two nails placed underneath the mirror to rest the mirror on. Keep in mind that our geographical mirrors are made out of acrylic (Plexiglass) and are very light. Once your mirror is in production, we will send you a PDF file containing a guide with exact measurements that help you orient all parts of the country shape correctly on your wall (escpecially important if the country has islands).
How are the puzzles manufactured?
The entire puzzle is cut precisely out of acrylics in your favorite color using a laser cutter. The country abbrevations are engraved on the back by the same method. The puzzle is mailed to you with pieces unseparated.
Can I get personalized jewelry?
Of course you can! Just email us with your request and we will try our best to fulfil it.
What is the average delivery time for jewelry?
The delivery time depends on the material that you chose. In general plastic prints faster than metal or glass since these have to be post-processed. Production time by Shapeways.com for polymer is appr. 10 days, 14 days for steel and other metals and 21 days for glass. In addition there is shipping with UPS that takes 2-3 days for most destinations. Note: Items cannot be shipped to Russia!
What is the average delivery time for Mirrors or Puzzles?
The production time for items to the US is usually 2-3 weeks. In Europe it is 1 day to 1 week. Shipping time varies on the shipping option chosen.