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Online jeweler puts a 3D-printed engagement ring on it

New service from online jeweler Brilliance delivers 3D-printed versions of rings so customers can test gemstone sizes and styles without setting foot in a store.

Brilliance.com 3D-printed rings
Pick your size and style before you order. Amanda Kooser/CNET

The engagement ring is a fabled piece of jewelry, meant to wow and awe, sometimes without the recipient ever knowing about it in the first place. This is a lot of responsibility to take on, especially if you're shopping online, trying to make sense of princess cuts and carat sizes just by looking at pictures.

For those who prefer to avoid jewelry stores entirely, online jewelry retailer Brilliance came up with a rather brilliant way to remove some of the anxiety and question marks from the ring-shopping process. It now lets customers order up 3D-printed versions of rings to compare and contrast the different shapes and sizes of gemstones.

There are two ways to get your plastic rings. If you already have your own 3D printer, you can just download the files and print the models at home. If you don't have that luxury, you can request free delivery by mail of a ring sizer and models with different cuts and carat sizes.

I tried out a set of the 3D-printed accoutrements, which arrived in classic understated white. The models have that 3D-printed vaguely sandy feel, but they fit comfortably. The eight rings came with labels printed into the bands. I held a dainty half-carat round-cut ring up next to a 2-carat ring and was able to appreciate the substantial size difference.

Trying them on, I decided the large size was a bit too chunky for my hand, instead settling on the 0.75-carat as an ideal size. I also learned that the heart-shape cut just wasn't for me, style-wise.

This is like having a high-tech jeweler show you your options without the bother of traveling to a jewelry store and the pressure of making such an emotional decision too quickly. There's something comforting about holding a 3D-printed model in your hand as you leisurely examine your options online.

"Although everyone thinks they would want a 2-carat diamond ring, sometimes it would look funny if the person's fingers are too thin," Shai Barel, director of strategic partnerships for Brilliance, tells CNET. "The same is true with the shape of the ring. A 1-carat round-cut diamond looks bigger than a 1-carat in any other shape. Providing customers with the ability to see and feel what they would like to purchase is golden."

Brilliance.com 3D-printed ring
Trying on a 3D-printed ring model. Amanda Kooser/CNET