Aloha Emil, I agree wholeheartedly, so now the quest begins.
Everyone seems to have the solution, but the real problem is
getting everyone from management, the design department, and
production, (And maybe even to the end consumer), on the same
page. (As Dominic Ventura suggested) And that is digitally. The
end justifies the means, whether it is handmade, hand drawn on
paper, solid or surface modeled or from a CAM package. The main
thing is to convey an idea or a design for production. The final
product is output to a modelmaker or a machine for prototyping.
The time for some is important, the output is more important.
The technology is now inexpensive enough for mom and pop stores
to get involved and this will bring a whole new crop of new
designers to the marketplace. The question is, What do you want
to do? And then, decide your path. Rolf did a fine thing, to
distribute demo’s of JewelCAD (Gold Machinery, charged $50), so
that was a gift. You can go to McNeel.com or Rhino3d.com and
download a demo of Rhino3D. Try the tools, investigate what is
available and see if it is for you. There are many Old World,
classically trained jewelers, approaching the craft, with a new
perspective. The output is a different matter, you don’t have to
buy a machine, there are service agencies to make the model, for
you. See if it fits in to your production requirements and
schedule. Investigate the difference in a surface / solid modeler
and a CAM package. Then, you can decide what will work, for your
particular needs. Some packages are engineering based, others are
drawing based. Some learning curves are 3-6 months, others,
years. Have fun, try the demos and learn in the process.