What is your favourite technologically advanced tool and why?
I am learning to use a laser, and it's pretty fantastic.
You can do a LOT of things without having to flux and heat the whole
piece of jewelry. I can't do the fancy stuff yet, but the guys I work
with can build a bezel right around a stone, even stones other than
diamonds. You can fill damage from porosity or other causes, with the
same metal-- not solder. It seems to work well even with silver,
though I'm only up to closing jump rings, or adding little bits of
gold or silver (I'm not too good yet at smoothing it out, but it
definitely can be done). Attach new findings right next to pearls!
A PUK is not as good as a laser, but it's still pretty great, and
can do many of the same kinds of tasks (much cheaper, too).
If you have the CAD skills, you can have things like fancy settings
grown and cast, though the ones I've seen (working for Jim Binnion,
who absolutely has the skills) require a lot of work to smooth and
polish. Still, they can be very detailed and absolutely symmetrical,
to fit even a one-off stone. Very cool, if you need it.