In recent workshop blogs, you may have noticed us throw around terms like “CAD”, or “Computer Aided Design”. This is a new toy our goldsmiths have got their hands on, and they are so excited about it, and putting it to such good use, that we felt it deserved an introduction. So. CAD is a computer program that allows our goldsmiths to design a 3D model of a piece of jewellery on the computer before crafting it in the real world.
There are lots of advantages to using CAD, particularly when we are often working with a customer to create a design. Digital modelling allows for an incredibly accurate image that gives a real sense of what the finished product will look like, which can be very difficult to convey when describing the piece. Using 3D images often eliminates the need to create a maquette (a model of the piece made in silver, usually for the customer to view and request any changes) because the pictures tend to be even closer to what the final design will look like. A CAD image can include colour and include any stones, rather than just the setting, for example.
Another advantage designs can be discussed by email, as images like the one below can be sent as attachments. This is often more convenient for the customer than coming to the shop for viewings, and it allows for incremental changes and trying things out.
If you’re thinking that image looks scary and technical, you’d be right. Once the design is finished, it will be sent off-site to the wax printers. The wax printer does exactly what any normal printer does except instead of ink it prints wax in 3D layers. The final wax model is then moulded and finally cast resulting in a perfect replica of the design agreed upon with the customer.
Recently, we used CAD to replicate a customer’s necklace that had been stolen. Using photos of her wearing it, goldsmith Kate recreated it on CAD and used the customer’s feedback to make it an accurate copy. The end result is a rose gold pendant with micro-pave set diamonds – absolutely stunning.
A more common use for CAD imaging is to create engagement rings. Whether the job is to make little changes to one of our existing rings, or create an entirely new piece, CAD allows the customer to have an idea of what they are helping to design. Often, the idea they had of the ring in their head looks completely different in the (digital) flesh, so having the opportunity to try out new ideas, go back to previous designs and make small changes is incredibly important to producing something everyone is pleased with. These kinds of incremental changes would be completely impractical using maquette’s and drawings.
This is a striking example of what CAD allows us to create and show to people: the above is a slightly unusual design requested by the customer, who wanted something really special. A 1.4 carat pear-shaped diamond on a platinum band set with yellow diamonds on the shoulders. The images above undeniably give a clear idea of what the ring will look like, but it’s even more beautiful in person…
Another engagement ring design, this time set with a trillion tanzanite and 6 tapered diamonds on the shoulders. The groom-to-be chose the stone, saying he particularly liked the rich blue of Tanzanites. This particular one is quite large, and a gorgeous, rich indigo colour. The photo is of the ring just before it went to the setters (if you look closely you can see the grooves on the shoulders where the diamonds will sit).
Kate chose these particular engagement rings to show us because they are so exciting: “Its great that people are making more individual ring choices, and I think CAD is a great tool for encouraging people to be adventurous.”
If you’re thinking of commisioning a piece with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we could help….