my main question would be: Is learning one program over another
going to be more helpful to my career, or is learning the concepts
and techniques what I should be most concerned about?
Although they share some basic concepts, each program has it's own
indiocyrasies and specific methodology; so a general knowledge of CAD
concepts and techniques will only get you so far. You'll have to learn
the specific tools of at least one program to gain a marketable skill
as a CAD artisan in the jewelry business.
CAD programs currently being used by jewelers include Rhinoceros,
TechGEMS, Matrix ( both are jewelry specific programs that run in
tandem with Rhinoceros), ArtCAM Jewelsmith, Solidworks, JewelCAD, and
ZBrush, Modo, Silo, Cinema4D, and SoftimageXSI which aren't as
popular among jewelers, also interest me, but I haven't explored them
extensively. A friend recently showed me it's possible to design
jewelry in Blender3D, (a free open-source 3D modeling, animation and
rendering program), but the interface seemed quite complicated upon
It sounds as though you are a student, so I'd suggest Rhino since
it's the most affordable among the prevalent 3D applications used by
jewelers. You can find it discounted on re-seller's sites for about
$500. A student version is much less and has the same functionality. It
has a very intuitive, easy to use interface, as CAD programs go.
To see what's possible to create with the program, check out: the
jewelry galleries at:
If you can afford it, Rhino with TechGems would be even better.
Flamingo, a rendering engine specific to Rhino, is also useful for
creating photo-realistic 2D images of your 3D designs, although
Rhino's native renderers; Rhino Render and TreeFrog Render, will
suffice to create simpler 2D images of CAD model.
If you have a good understanding of Rhino, it won't be difficult to
adapt to other programs such as Matrix or JewelSmith. I can provide
live online Rhino training sessions using GoToMyPC, if you're
There is also a free CAD/CAM forum for jewelers on
www.jckmarketplace.com where you can do some additional research.
Very best regards,