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Is there a CAD devoted to jewelry making? There are special
programs for engineering and specialties like architecture.

I am in a college computer class now for AutoCAD Revision 14.
Our text is for version 13 as there are no 14 texts out yet. I
may grow very, very old before we do the almost 900 pages of
textbook. As a student you can buy your own copy for $999.99.
It’s a steal at that price.

Ginkgo Designs

Gesswein sells jewelry CAD systems. There is also a machine to
go with it that will make a wax or metal model of your design.
Jewelry made that is not touched by the human hand. Ghastly, but


Gesswein sells jewelry CAD systems. There is also a machine to
go with it that will make a wax or metal model of your design.
Jewelry made that is not touched by the human hand. Ghastly, but

It sounds scary but it is also fascinating! Where could I learn
more about this?


 Is there a CAD devoted to jewelry making? There are special
programs for engineering and specialties like architecture.

Hi Bill

There is a program called JewelCAD. I’ve seen it offered by
Gold International Machinery Corp. They were selling a couple
machines that utilize the program to produce models. One was a
CNC milling machine, the other is the SPI MM6 model maker which
does a wax build-up, similar to stereo lithography.

Just this past week I was talking to a fellow who uses, and
seems to like the JewelCAD program. I steered him towards this
list, if he’s getting this perhaps he’ll have something to add.

Are the special programs for different specialties fundamentally
different, or is it a matter of different symbol libraries and
customizing menues?

Dick Caverly

DeDe, When you find out the answer would you please e-mail me.
Beverly Bevington @Beverly_Ann_Bevingto


I have seen this CAD/CAM system on display at the MJSA show in
Rhode Island and it is in the Gesswein catalog, called the Wizard
System. It consists of a computer with CAD/CAM software that is
hooked up to a milling machine that carves out the design. It is
on pages 178-179 in the 1994 catalog. I don’t know if it is in
any other catalogs. Maybe if you call Gesswein they might have a
pamphlet or more info that they can send you.


I visited Gold Machinery last spring and saw both machines. The
models made by the Lithography machine were striated since the
process builds up the piece one layer at a time, and the
resulting model material was rather brittle. The 3 axis Cad
machine that I saw was doing some detailed carving- low reliefs
of the 19th century Mybridge horse photographs- the carvings were
perhaps 1 1/4" long and very detailed. The software alone was
$8000. Several of the School ring houses are using the milling

Richard D. Hamilton

Fabricated 14k, 18k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography

Morning Dick,

I do believe that the AutoCAD program is basically a single
program with specialized CD’s for extra area of expertise.

I’m looking at an ad for AutoCAD Release 13 at $2,495 and (CD’s
, I believe) “Architectural Power Tools” @ $299 and “AutoMENU
Mechanical” @ $199.

The class I’m in is Windows AutoCAD Release 14 and I believe it
goes for $3,900.

In yesterday’s class the instructor created a bicycle wheel with
18 sets of spokes in less than five minutes while lecturing

I have been doing a little in jewelry design now that I am a
veteran and have been at it almost five weeks ( that’s a joke).
The program with its polar and rectangular arrays and zero radius
fillets and on and on is unbelievable powerful. Draw an ellipse
and request polar array on the same center point, specify 18 (or
any number) hit the mouse button and there before your eyes are
18 ellipsoids around the same center.

The instructor insists that you work mouse in right hand,
keyboard with left hand for maximum productivity, since he is
training people for the drafting/designing world.

The program does have its limitation though. It still doesn’t
know how to prevent fire scale.

Ginkgo Designs

Bill you might look in to corell draw with the 3d it runs about
$500.00 and will translate for the CAM system as i understand
it. Ricky low knows more about that. \


I do believe that the AutoCAD program is basically a single
program with specialized CD’s for extra area of expertise.
I’m looking at an ad for AutoCAD Release 13 at $2,495 and (CD’s
, I believe) “Architectural Power Tools” @ $299 and “AutoMENU
Mechanical” @ $199.
The class I’m in is Windows AutoCAD Release 14 and I believe it
goes for $3,900.

Addison Wesley markets AutoCAD ver 12 in a package for students.
It is fully functional and includes 3D Studio and a lot of
extras for about $250. If you are not an architect or engineer I
think it’s a much better deal. As far as I know, there are not
yet any libraries for jewelers , yet.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
e-mail: @Bruce_Holmgrain
snail mail: 311 Sugarland Run Drive, Sterling, VA 20164
phone:: 703-593-4652

Bruce, How can I locate Addison Wesley? Beverly Bevington

Bruce,  How can I locate Addison Wesley?  Beverly Bevington

Try the bookstore at your local comunity college. That’s where I
got my copy. I have also seen the package for sale in the backs
of a couple of computer magazines. These are for distribution to
students only. I think it is well worth taking a couple of
classes to get the package.

It’s difficult to really go into depth on a subject like CAD in
this format, but I do have some experience with the subject and
would like to share a few thoughts.

I am a jewelry designer, and I now do all of my design work
digitally. My criteria for using any design media, is that it
cannot limit my creativity in any way. If I find myself changing
a design to be more “media friendly”, than that media is not

That said, I can comfortably state that it is completely
possible to design anything you want digitally. The work is also
invariably cleaner, more easily edited, and more permantent than
designs done with traditional media.

I also model much of my design work digitally. I have yet to
come across a design that was impossible to model accurately.
perfect symmetry, and accurate fits are a snap! Once a model is
completed, it can be scaled, edited, chopped up and reused to
your heart’s content.

The learning curve is another matter. I am not “digitally
gifted” in the least, so I may not be an ideal example, but it
took me a year and a half of study to get my mind around this
stuff. I still have A LOT to learn! Now if you’re going to be
working from exhisting libraries of parts, etc., it might not be
so daunting, but if you want to feel free to pursue any concept
that might flash through your cosmic ether, plan on a serious
learning curve.

CAM is another issue altogether. The output from the latest STL
technologies is very impressive! It is definately jewelry
quality. This was not true 5 years ago, but it is now. It’s
exiting to think how great it’s going to be 5 years from now. CNC
mills will execute a level of precise and delicate detail that
would be impossible to execute by hand, and they can do it all
day long.

Both technologies have their limitations. STL’s still show
minimal stair stepping.The surfaces are fine for 90% of jewelry
applications, but for real delicate bas reliefs or textures, they
are in my opinion still too course. There is also the issue of
cleaning up the prototypes. The raw surface of these, is porous
and grainy, and really requires some manual attention, either in
the resin, or in the metal. This also limits the level of surface
detail that can be successfully rendered by this technology. The
prototypes also require some special handling during the casting
process, but this seems to be more a matter of educating the
caster than a real limitation. CNC mills are limited when it
comes to undercuts, and the very nature of working with tool
paths, impacts the design process tremendously. In fact, tool
paths could be called a design process in their own right.
Depending on your software and the model in question, this could
be another meaningful learning curve. Essentially I think of
milling as being a suitable approach for relief-tye designs or
simple forms with complex surfaces, not for sculptural, free form
or other complicated forms. All this being said, the combined
strengths of the two technologies should be able to execute most
jewelry applications beautifully.

Practicality is another issue. It takes me 7 to 30 hours to
complete a digital model ( mind you, these are complex pieces
created from scratch). After that, I still have a few hundred
dollars to shell out to an STL server, or I have to own a 50,000
dollar machine, with which I have to spend more time, or pay
someone elso to spend more time. If I’m outputing to a mill, I
have the expense of the mill, the expense of the tool path
software (camex etc.), and the expense of someone who has the
time and expertise to use both ( or take on another learning
curve myself). Compare that to paying $400.00 to a skilled model
maker and being done with it ( you hope), and you have to think
hard about the time and money involved in CAM. On the other hand,
once it’s digital, its quite permanent, easy to revise and reuse,
and available to take advantage of future advances in technology.
It’s also generally a superior product, and often times it’s the
only approach that will truly deliver a satisfactory result

Wrapping up, I have to say that I find the computer to be an
indespensible design, development and engnineering tool. When I
have completed a digital design and model, there are very few
questions left for myself, the model makers (digital or
traditional), or the jeweler. I can really explore my options
fully, and when a project is complete, it becomes part of my own
library for future manipulation and development. On the
manufacturing front, I really enjoy being able to obtain the
predictable, precise results that CAM provides, although being a
staff designer for a large manufacturer makes the very real cost
and overall practicality issues less of a concern for me. One
thing is for sure; digital technologies are already impacting the
jewelry industry, and will inevitably become more affordable,
practical and therefore prevalant, in the future. It therefore
merely becomes a question of how long, and to what extent this
will impact us in our careers, and how proactive we are willing
to be in these changes.

I told you it would be difficult!!(hope it wasn’t too long and painful)


“CAD” stands for “computer aided design”
“CAM” stands for “computer aided manufacturing”

Dear Kim: Read your message regarding CAD/Cam with interest.
There is now available a CAM solution that is relatively easy to
learn and reasonable. Contact me if your interested:Eisinger
Ent: @Eisinger_Enterprises ask for Art2Part plus Mill. Around
$20,000 with training. Roger Greene

Hi Kim,(Nelson) I liked your article on cad/cam… it was very
informative. I’m looking into cad /cam because i like high tech
and may have some uses for the process. Being a
designer/modelmaker/caster, I often ask my self if it is worth
it ? i can make a complex ring design by hand in 3to 4 hours…
which took a machine at the jewelry show about 14 hrs to
make… I just wonder how many days/ weeks it took to get the
designwork on computer done and tested before the piece actualy
got made. My suspicion is that everything has its area of
expertise and that once the techniques are learned it may open
up other possible design concepts . I hope they send me the
softwarte soon!!! sincerely, Daniel Grandi

As Kim Nelson has already stated, there are many software
products that could be used to design jewelry. All of them,
except Jewelcad, were created for other industries. Alias is
primarily used for the animation industry but since its
rendering is excellent, the jewelry industry loves it. The
major draw back is two fold; it has a major learning curve and
it creates very poor STL files. For this reason, Sanders has
worked with Alias to create perfect SLC data. Companies like
Michael Anthony, Tiffany, A. Jaffee, SM Grotelle, Monet, JFA
and many more use Alias.

SDRC is very good for jewelry design. Big learning curve but
creates very good STL files. Companies like London Star and
Mastoloni uses SDRC

ProEngineer is very good for jewelry design. Big learning curve
but creates very good STL files. Companies like QVC and Vargas
use ProE.

SolidWorks is also good for jewelry design. This software has
an extension purely for the jewelry designer. With the jewelry
extension, the learning curve is not significant. The STL files
are good and very shortly Sanders will support SLC data within

Rhino is very good for jewelry design. Again a big learning
curve. Kabana uses Rhino amongst others.

Jewelcad was developed by a jeweler that wanted to make his life
a little easier. It is focused to solve your requirements and
solve your problems. Jewelcad uses SLC data because it is true
surface data. I’m not saying that Jewelcad is perfect, but it
is getting there. The learning curve is very short compared to
all the other software products. Ubio, Uncas, Imperial Pearl,
Ballou, Morelli, Beauty Gems, and many more use Jewelcad.

Kim talks about accuracy and surface finish. An independent
study was conducted by the Tokyo University on the 16 known
Rapid Prototype equipment from 12 known manufacturers, in which,
the Sanders ModelMaker-II was by far the most accurate of any RP
system available in the US.

It’s important to realize that CAD/CAM is only a tool. You
don’t have to use it. Making something, anything, by hand is an
experience a worthwhile one at that. But we are all in a very
changing environment and you need to know what is available.
You need to research your options.

It’s a pleasure to read Kim’s observations on why she chose to
become a designer using CAD. She’s no different than all the
other CAD designers on this forum, except she is willing to tell
the rest of you. It’s interesting that you could call almost
any jeweler that is using CAD and the Sander ModelMaker, and
they will deny owning them. I have been told that jewelers have
received more work because they are doing things digitally.
Large jewelry dealers like QVC will tell a designer to make a
stone change or twist the shank a little more or whatever. If
that design wasn’t done digitally, you couldn’t even compete.

The jewelry market is the most difficult. Time to market is the
most important. At least if you designed something digitally,
you could actually see that model fully rendered before you
actually made the decision to build it. We’re seeing more of
the custom, one of a kind, business going towards digital.

Hope this wasn’t too boring for you. You’ve probably noticed
that I’m not continually harassing you on this forum. I too
have to work for a living selling equipment to the jewelry and
of course other industries.

One last question, how are we doing using Jewelcad? I shipped
50 and 40 more should have gone last week.


Hi Peter,

I read your post last week and have been giving much thought as
to how I should, or if I should respond. Anyway, here goes. Some
of the folks posting on Orchid regarding CAD/CAM, are
doing so in an effort to sell a product. they should be read
carefully as there is some useful to be had there,
but know where it’s coming from, and take it for what it’s worth.
Others however, are just sharing a perspective. They have nothing
to gain from promoting the digital technology.

When I first got involved with this thread it was with a good
deal of trepidation. You see, I consider digital design to give
me such an ADVANTAGE over others in my position in the field,
that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to chime in. The other big issue
for me, is that the company I work for (that little firm in
Louisiana), considers this technology to give them such an
advantage, that the programs and methods we use are considered to
be proprietary Read that as “Kim could get fired for
talking about this”.

I come out of an Illustration background. My formal training was
in traditional media. So much so, that I would have never touched
a computer in that profession. For ten years I made my living off
the fact that I could quickly and consistently pull photo-realism
from a piece of paper using pencils and paint (no airbrush
allowed). The computer did however, revolutionize that industry,
to the extent that my poor little pencil smudged hands couldn’t
make a living any more. That’s precisely how I landed in the
jewelry industry.

There seems to be a misconception about digital design and
modeling. Niether one is going to be helpful if you don’nt have
the requisite skills to begin with. They’re just tools. I have
worked with and for, some of the finest craftsment in the
industry, and I wouldn’t run out and tell any of them that my
little box has made their decades of exerience obsolete. I would
however, strongly recommend that they go out and learn about the
technology. It is definately going to impact what they do.

I am a designer who draws with a computer. Dominique is a
modelmaker (who though I have never worked with personally, is
very well respected in the NY market for his traditional model
making skills) who makes models with a computer. We have
absolutely no need to use this technology to make a living. We
were both doing quite well without it. “We” (sorry for speaking
on your behalf Dominique) have chosen to use this media ONLY
because it is a very powerful tool.

There are going to be a lot of people who just don’t like
working with a computer. Just like there are a number of
craftsmen I know who have very little respect for wax model
makers, and still consider casting to be cheating. The computer
is an abstract medium, and you’re not going to have that tactile
intamacy that you get with traditional methods.

Your guitar analogy was appropriate. I have a 1953 Guild and a
1964 Martin acoustic guitar. I also have a 1957 Gibson Les Paul.
I personally prefer the acoustics, even though they’re quiet,
buzz if I play them too hard, require twice the hand strength,
can only pull a half to whole note bend, have poor vibrato and
comparitively speaking, no sustain. They still for me, have more
heart. And besides, that’s what I learned on.

In the end, it’s still me playing the guitar. If I’m good they
sound great. If I can’t play, it doesn’t matter which one I pick
up (although volume considered, my neighbors might disagree). My
designs are still my designs, regardless of what media I choose
to use. In fact, most folks can’t tell which media I’ve chosen to
use until they handle the paper. I don’t make my living off of
the paper. It’s what’s on it that counts.

As for your CAD/CAM challenge; go for it! learn some programs,
gain access to the equipment (most vendors will execute one or
more of your models at no charge, in an effort to sell you the
hardware) and compare your digital results with what you are
doing now. Be sure to compare quality as well as speed. I
wouldn’t want you to view the computer only as a production tool.
Its’ real charm lies in the control it gives you.

Anyway, I’m off to work. As I said before, I am limited in how
specific I can get about all of this. Let it be said that the
majority of such has already been given to you freely
over this newsgroup. Dominique would be an excellent source. He’s
terribly busy, so it might take him a while to respond, but I
have found him to be terribly helpful.

One more point I should probably clear up while I’m here. As
much as I love women, I’m only a Mr. Kim Nelson. What can I say?
mom saw I Rudyard Kipling film while she was pregnant, and the
name stuck. I was the only guy I new in High School who got mail
from the US Marine Corps AND 17 magazine!

Bye for now,


For myself, I knew the importance of what this technology might mean.
I find that sharing personal experience gets the message across.
Examples- You spend a day carving a wax to have the customer come back
and say no, my finger is bigger, the design should be smaller, ect,
ect. In CAD that takes moments to modify, how long by hand?

You have a request for the same ring in every size for a
manufacturer. In CAD it takes moments, how long for you to fabricate
or carve?

Perfect symmetry is essential to a multi-stoned, complex ring design.
In CAD it is easily created.

These are just a very few examples of what it can do. If you are
resisting CAD, why? If you are embracing CAD, why? I think it is
important to share these personal stories of how CAD has become part
of your process instead of debating the technological specifications
and whether or not it works the best or not. Do others have stories
that they can share?

Pam Zellers Creative Director

M2 Systems
14 Finance Dr. Danbury Ct. 06810
p.203-791-9968 f.203-778-1006

Why are we bickering here? What is everyone’s goal in posting info
about CAD here? Are we not striving to educate and better our
experience as craftsman?

CAD/CAD technology is HERE. It is being used in the industry NOW. Its
presence cannot be denied. Whether it is what your individual
business needs is up to the individual. I think it is a mistake to
deny its importance and influence on the industry. There are many
major players including Tiffany down to the small shop jeweler of
which we have half a dozen clients are using full steam already.

To focus on all the technical aspects without proper background and
understanding only scares people away in my experience. I think it is
only far to ease interested parties into what this is all about. Some
folks have been using this technology for many years and talk over the
heads of everyone else. Those who feel disadvantages already feel
additionally alienated. Can we slow this conversation down and talk
about what this means, why its important, and why those who are using
it are doing so?

Pam Zellers Creative Director

M2 Systems
14 Finance Dr. Danbury Ct. 06810
p.203-791-9968 f.203-778-1006

Dear Kim: Thanks very much for the I am just starting
out as a jewellry designer. I’ve actually registered in classes for
drawing my designs on paper, and then decided to check out CAD
programs. I would prefer to work with a good CAD program than draw my
designs on paper. I’m working freelance (out of home) and am just
looking at which way to proceed. I have worked with various computer
programs in the past for graphic design and tv editing. Currently, I
am considering Rhino, however, it sounds as if it is more of an
animation tool than a jewellry design tool. The other CAD program I
would like to look at is Jewelcad. Any thoughts?

Hello again Catrina,

Sorry it’s taken me a few days to respond, time’s been tight lately.
Thanks for taking the time to clarify some of the issues I had
mentioned before.

Since you have already had some computer experience with graphics
applications, I am going to assume you are familiar with the
capabililties of the basic bitmap programs like Photoshop, as well
vector applications along the lines of Illustrator, Freehand and Corel

For sketching and design development I have been using Fractal
Painter, which has recently been acquired by Corel and now goes by the
name “Corel Painter 6”. I have found this application to provide a
reasonable approximation of traditional drawing methods and materials,
with the additional bonus of the mirroring, scaling, stretching,
layering and a host of other special effects the program provides.
Kind of like a paint box on steroids. Using a computer environment for
design development also removes the need for scanning as well as
making communicating design via the internet, or between
software applications and other digital product development colleagues
much easier. Painter runs around $400.00.

As for Rhinoceros: I use the product myself, and have nothing but
praise for its capabilities. It is an extremely flexible, efficient,
powerful and affordable modeling solution. It also functions very well
as a vector drawing tool, to the extent that I currently use Rhino to
execute all of my mechanical drawings (the program also includes 2D
dimensioning capabilities). As far as the animation thing goes, it
simply isn’t true. Rhinoceros, since its days as beta-ware over the
internet, has been promoted as an industrial design and visualization
tool. I can’t speak from first hand knowledge, but Dominic Ventura’s
statement “Rhino was originally developed as an add on to work within
AutoCad” seems plausible, and I have never found Mr. Ventura to be
lacking when it comes to accurate technical

Vist the Rhino website and look at the work being represented, you
will notice a strong bias towards engineering and industrial design.
By contrast, go to the websites for 3D Studio Max or LightWave;
animation packages based on mesh modelers. You won’t see these
applications promoting much in the way of industrial design (unless
you consider space ships to be industrial design). This bit of
research alone, should allay your fears regarding Rhino’s validy and
respectabilit as a serious product development tool.

Anyway, I have to be going. I hope this was of some help.
I have much more to say on the subject, but not much time of late. By
the way, I will also be speaking at the JDPN’s presentation in
November, along with Mr. Ventura. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

All the best,