It is a fact that computers and advanced technology have changed the face of every industry, and a clear example of this is the tech being used in computer-assisted design, or CAD, for jewelry. Initially, there was the doubt that the pre-tech artist’s skills could be replicated by computer-assisted design. The thought that artistic skills used by master model makers could be assumed by computers in a technological setting was entirely absurd. However, one thing that was not taken into consideration while believing this was the element of interaction between people. A computer does not replace a jeweler, it is merely a tool that makes it possible and easier for artists to express themselves with more clarity than ever before. After getting through the technological learning curve of learning how to use CAD jewelry design, jewelers now find themselves immersed in a world of theoretically endless possibilities.
CAD jewelry design does not replace the need for jewelers who cast, polish, solder and weld gold or platinum, or the setters who seat gemstones. However, it does make it quite possible to create prototype jewelry models which can be rendered as fully 3D designs. Today’s jewelry sculptors use keyboards and a mouse instead of files, spatulas, and wax pens to create their works, but it does not devalue the skills of the sculptors and designers. The work of these artists still requires artistic vision, paired with knowledge of materials and understanding of jewelry fabrication procedures, just as their predecessors who didn’t have the advantage of CAD jewelry design. The only thing that has changed is the shift to 3D modeling and computer-assisted designing.
Formerly created by hand as wax carvings, computer-assisted jewelry designs are developed by artists using modern equipment and software that transform their thoughts into digital works of art. These works are then subsequently sent in the form of digital files to mills, printers, or growing machines where they are transformed from data into a wax or resin form, which is then embedded in plaster and put into a furnace to incinerate the model. The container of the empty impression of the piece is then filled with molten gold or platinum that will then be worked on by skilled bench jewelers. The finished design is then prepared for diamond setting by the jewelry polishing team that it is sent to.