For years custom designed jewelry has been created using old world techniques dating as far back as the 1800’s. Until recently, almost all-custom designed jewelry was created using these methods. The introduction of Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) has changed all that and in it’s wake ushered in a whole new universe of possibilities. Designs that were never thought possible can be made to the highest quality standards.
How is Custom Designed Jewelry Made? Before learning about the benefits of 3D-CAD you’ll need to know more about the custom jewelry design process. Most jewelry is made using a method called lost wax casting. A skilled artisan/jeweler hand carves a jewelry prototype out of jewelers wax using small scalpels and knives. This wax prototype also known as a “model” is placed in a flask and plaster called “investment” is poured all around the model. Once the investment hardens an exact impression of the model is formed inside of the flask. The wax model is burned out of the flask leaving a cavity of the jewelry design.
Next molten metal is injected in the flask mold using vacuum or centrifugal casting. When the metal cools and hardens the investment is broken away revealing the un-finished jewelry casting. This casting is filed, polished and prepped for assembly, which may include setting the gemstones or welding other precious metal parts to the casting.
The process of hand carving the wax prototype has always been the accepted process for creating custom jewelry. The problem with this process is that the human hand can’t be as precise as a computer-aided machine when carving the model. Precision equates to more design possibilities and much higher quality jewelry production. In the end you’ll have a product that looks crisper and won’t be prone to stone loss or breakage.
What is Computer Aided Design? Computer Aided Design is a sophisticated modeling process using advanced software to plot coordinates for mechanical drawings. These drawings can be exported to various types of prototyping machines called CNC mills or growing machines. CNC mills cut-away material from a block of wax to make the jewelry model. The growing machines layer material from side to side much like a printer to build the model, samples of this process can be viewed at design your engagement ring The precision of these models exceeds what any human could do while hand carving the jewelry model. Design possibilities become limitless because the 3D-CAD software enables the designer to create parts and design elements that aren’t possible using outmoded tools and methods.
Another benefit of 3D-CAD jewelry design is the ability to see a computer rendering before the final completion of the jewelry. In old methods the jeweler would create crude counter sketches of your concept and the rest would be left to your imagination. Now the designs that the jeweler creates in 3D-CAD can be rendered to photo-realistic images for you to view before making your final decisions.
Choosing a Jeweler for Custom Jewelry Design Like any other occupation or trade there are good jewelry craftsmen and there are bad ones. It is important to pre-screen your jeweler to determine if he/she is skilled at making custom designed jewelry. Ask to see their portfolio and examine their designs to determine if the flair they have for jewelry design matches your style requirements. Also, pay close attention to their communication and interpretation skills because much can get lost in the translation of your ideas if you’re not careful. Once the jewelry is made its too late to make changes and the typical jeweler will not re-make it again without added fees.
At this point higher qualified and better skilled custom jewelry designers have moved to using 3D-CAD to create their designs. If you feel 2 jewelers are equally matched in aptitude and skills then you should choose the one that is using 3D-CAD design. You’ll pay a little more to have your jewelry created in 3D-CAD but the final results will be amazing. The jewelry will look 1000% better than if it were hand carved and it will last much longer because of the precision of the jewelry model.