I have been a CAD designer for about 10 years now, I started using a
software called “Strata Studio Pro” (don’t think its around anymore)
it was a great program, only rendering not CAM or RP.
Then moved onto “Maya” and “ArtCam” (which has a new modeller out
now, which looks good) went through a few programs and started using
Jewelcad, great program to learn on but its hard to see what your
doing and the precision isn’t there. Tried Matrix 5.3, and Rhino
Gold, they are decent enough programs but way too restrictive for me,
don’t get me wrong the builders are fantastic, and to layout stones
on a surface is very easy, but you are able to set you own parameters
of this with the basic Rhino and make it work more effectively, with
extra variables. Monarch seems like the same sort of thing they look
wonderful but you end up making the pieces that look the same as
everyone else. Also be very careful the costs can keep coming with
these programs every update and every new thing that comes out (that
most of the time are patches and bugfixes that are their fault
anyway) will cost you more money, some of these programs even charge
you yearly fees. If your paying over $5000 Au$ which I think is about
$2500 american your paying way too much.
I now use the basic Rhino only (not matrix) with a V-ray Renderer.
The support you get with Rhino is wonderful because the community
that use this program don’t just make jewellery so you can get a
broader range of solutions. But jewellery has the biggest Rapid
Prototyping industry in the world at the moment (because we’re the
only industry to manufacture straight from RP) the support is
definitely there. I am currently producing about 8 to 15 rings per
day, so the cost of making per ring is kept down.
Sorry for babbling on, i just really love what I do, and this being
a new’ish part of our industry we need to give each other as much
info as we can so as not to get ripped off.
P.S. This is only my opinion, and as anything in the jewellery
industry everyone has their own way of manufacturing, so look around
for the program that works for you.