These unique, stylish rings reflect light into a personal message

A Switzerland-based startup Rayform, in collaboration with the scientists at EPFL’s Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory, has developed a collection of unique, stylish rings that reflect sunlight into a personal message. The surface of each ring is structured so as to create messages out of reflected light.

These gold and diamond rings, created by the ‘THE RAYY,’ look like normal pieces of jewelry. But when you shine a light on them, the smooth surface of the ring – that is actually structured extremely precisely – reflect light in a certain way and form words. Artificial light also works on them, but the words appear best with sunlight, according to the Romain Testuz CEO of Rayform, the startup behind THE RAYY brand.

A girl has worn rings. Credit: THE RAYY
A girl has worn rings. Credit: THE RAYY

The idea behind the jewelry actually came when an EPFL scientist was studying caustics, or the way light rays reflect off a surface and form patterns on another surface. They found that if it is possible to control caustic – that is, to manipulate reflections, it can be used to create precise images like pictures, words or symbols.

In order to explore their ideas, scientists developed a series of algorithms that could produce specific images. “We wrote a program to calculate the 3D curves we would need to etch into a surface in order to reflect light a certain way and create our designs,” says Yuliy Schwartzburg, one of Rayform’s co-founders.

A collection of unique, stylish rings that employ technology developed at EPFL. Credit: THE RAYY
A collection of unique, stylish rings that employ technology developed at EPFL. Credit: THE RAYY

The tiny curves etched into a surface – using high-precision instruments – concentrate the light rays onto specific areas and turn them away from others. That results in reflections of the desired images.

In addition to creating elegant works of art, Rayform’s technology could also be used to develop systems for detecting counterfeit, such as fake watches and documents, the team claimed.

But for now, the team had to overcome one big challenge to create their THE RAYY jewelry collection. “The surface area available on a piece of jewelry is very small. But we were still able to find a way to produce clear, high-resolution images,” says Schwartzburg.