“Smart” jewelry today largely includes functional gadgets designed for health-tracking functions, or those offering some sort of alerting feature, like rings that vibrate when you receive texts or calls. But now, a new piece of smart jewelry called the “Momento Pearl” is combining technology with sentiment and emotion by allowing the jewelry’s giver to record a digital memory to a pearl necklace, ring or earrings, which is then accessed by tapping the pearl to an NFC-enabled smartphone.
Historically, giving jewelry as a gift has been thought of being an act of love, and the Momento Pearl is no different. The idea here is to create a line of interactive gems, beginning with pearls but eventually expanding into other gemstones, which function as something of an upgrade to the traditional keepsake locket.
While in the past, people would tuck small photos into hinged lockets as a way of keeping their loved ones close, the Momento Pearl allows you to record and save digital photos, as well as videos, voice recordings, text messages and more into hardware embedded inside a hand-carved white freshwater or black Tahitian pearl set in sterling silver or 14K white or yellow gold.
The concept for this modern-day twist on the old-fashioned locket was dreamed up by longtime jewelry designer, Chi Huynh, whose company Galatea is known best for its carved line of pearls, created by their own patented and proprietary process. Those same pearls are what are featured here, except they’ve been upgraded with NFC technology and 500 MB of storage space (or 1 GB if the company exceeds its Kickstarter goal.)
The company already has the technology developed and ready to ship, but is raising funds on Kickstarter more to generate awareness for its new technology, which it’s also selling direct to retailers. Notably, the price points on the Kickstarter campaign, which offers rewards starting at just $95, are much lower than those for the same items Galatea is selling to retailers.
Retailers will sell the items for price points of around $400 in their own stores, the company tells us. Several Kickstarter items can instead be bought for less than half that.
The way the technology works involves the combination of NFC inside the pearl and a mobile app designed for Android smartphones. Unfortunately, this smart jewelry is Android-only for now, because Apple has yet to open up its iPhone’s NFC component for use outside of Apple Pay. (If that occurs, though, Momento Pearl will expand to support iOS devices, as well.)
After you buy the jewelry, you tap it to your Android smartphone, which will launch the app’s page on the Google Play store. You install the app to your phone and open it, then begin filling it with your digital memories by tapping on buttons for adding photos, text, voice recordings, web links or videos. When you’ve finished uploading, you tap the pearl to the phone again to save your content to the jewelry item. The app’s data is also synced with the cloud so in the event the jewelry becomes lost, the memories it included are not.
The jewelry’s owner can set one of the items to be the “featured” memory, meaning the one that plays immediately when tapped to a smartphone. However, the recipient can also share the account associated with the app so they cab swap out featured memories as they choose by logging into the app. This way, the gift giver can also “update” the jewelry with new memories by uploading more content into the app for the recipient to choose to rotate through over time.
Because the jewelry relies on NFC technology inside of Bluetooth, the necklace, rings and earrings don’t require charging, nor do they need batteries, making them a bit more practical than a number of smart jewelry pieces on the market today. They’re also waterproof, so you can swim with them or wear them in the shower.
While the current line of jewelry offered includes only pearls, which can sometimes be thought of as a bit old-fashioned, their hand-carved look at least gives them a more modern feel. And there’s also one piece called the “Beauty Inside” that’s unique – it’s a hand-carved Tahitian Galatea pearl which includes a gemstone grown inside.
Additionally, the company says that now they have the technology working, the plan is to introduce it into a range of jewelry items in the future, including a variety of other colored gemstones to start.
The Momento Pearl is raising $50,000 on Kickstarter with promises to begin shipping next month. So far, just over $16,000 has been raised with 11 days to go. Most of the items on Kickstarter are in the hundred to few hundred dollar range, though there are high-end items available for $1,425 and up, as well.