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Bespoke Bone Rings

Bespoke Bone Rings

By Riaz Bhunnoo

Shortly after reading an article on the highly fashionable line of ‘molecular jewellery’, I discovered that scientists in the field of tissue engineering had gone one better and developed a personalised tissue-engineered bone ring, made using people’s actual bone cells.

A team of designers at the Royal College of Art and researchers at King’s College London worked together to create bone rings for several couples. The couples donated bone cells from their wisdom teeth which were then grown around a ring-shaped scaffold. The scaffold, being ‘bioactive’, encouraged the cells to divide and grow rapidly. Once formed, the rings were strengthened with a resin and then made-to-measure according to the finger shape of the lucky recipient. Gold or silver plating added the finishing touches.

Embellishing jewellery with parts of the body may seem strange but the idea has been around for centuries. In many ancient cultures, human and animal bone was worn as an indicator of fertility or status. More recently, and somewhat morbidly, 19th century mourning jewellery was crafted from the hair of dead relatives. The tissue-engineered bone rings described here, however, are truly unique in that they provide a bodily connection to a living person, thus eliminating the death-related spookiness. Whether this symbolic exchange of bone represents an act of love is another matter.

When Angelina Jolie got married to Billy Bob Thornton, she and her former husband swapped necklaces adorned with vials of their own blood, as a symbol of their, ahem, everlasting commitment. Well instead of swapping bodily fluids, why not make the same gesture with a bone ring? I can’t say either sound particularly romantic to me.

Unfortunately, as this was a one-off study, you won’t be able to pop into your local dentists and place your order. Still, with the advent of DIY dentistry, I can foresee some people having a go in their own homes.

You can find out much more about the Biojewellery project at http://www.biojewellery.com.

Find out more about Riaz, or follow these links:

- Weird - Love at first fright
- Wit & Wisdom - Who goes to conferences?
- Interesting - Mozart in the workplace
- Blimey - Sex games on MySpace

Image: Rubenshito

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01 Nov 2009
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