Custom Computers

May 1999

Precious Metals & Bench:Metalsmithing

Custom Computers

Jewelers become custom-design wizards with the help of computer software and electronic libraries of findings and gemstones

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's it worth when you can create a digital image of a ring your best customer asked you to design but couldn't find the exact words to describe? Computer software programs offer the opportunity to redesign existing jewelry or start from scratch using storehouses of findings and gemstones to mix and match until you come up with a combination that charms the customer.

New Tool
The GemVision DG3 Digital Goldsmith System by Gemvision Corp., Bettendorf, IA, was an instant hit with Tom Wright, co-owner of Wright's Jewelers Inc., Lincoln, NE. "The first week we had it, a customer looked at a ring but wasn't sure she liked the stones in it," he says. "We photographed it with the GemImage jewelry imaging camera, brought it up on the computer screen for her to see and reset it with the princess-cut diamonds she thought she would like better." It turns out she didn't like the princess cut, so she and Wright experimented with different center and side stones until finding a combination she liked. "We made an $8,500 sale," he says.

This exemplifies what users of Digital Goldsmith believe to be one of its strongest features. "It's a marketing tool," says Arthur Gordon, an award-winning designer and owner of Arthur Gordon's Fine Jewelry in Oklahoma City, OK. In fact, all the jewelers Professional Jeweler spoke with say that while the system is useful as a design program, its greatest benefit is in improved customer relations. Gordon, for example, has used it since June 1998 for designing, cataloging and in conjunction with appraisals. He also is president of the GemVision Users Club, set up to share ideas on how to get the most out of the system.

The GemVision DG3 system gives you the ability to create original designs, as demonstrated here by setting an uncut, unpolished opal in different pendant mountings on a computer screen. The opal is courtesy of The Opal Center, New Zealand.

Your customers can mix and match gemstones and mountings from a library built into the Gemvision system. The basic mounting shown on this page with different gems is from Stuller Settings, # 5604.


What's Included
The DG3 System includes jewelry design software for Windows 95/NT and the GemImage jewelry imaging camera. By combining the camera with the software, you can photograph pieces you have in stock or that a customer brings in and make changes to the piece on the computer screen as the customer watches and makes suggestions.

The design software contains a library of findings and gems you can use to create an almost limitless variety of designs without having to stock them.

The system costs $13,850, the software alone is $5,600 and the prices include a four-day training program. Many companies lease the system for about $300 per month, says Bill Letwin, Gemvision's vice president of sales and marketing. This price includes the training.

Wright invested about $16,000 in his system, which included a Gateway computer with a 21-in. color monitor. The extra investment was worthwhile, he says, because of the dramatic effect the larger image has on customers.

The images also can be printed on photo-quality paper for use as counter displays, print media advertising, fliers, direct mail promotions and appraisals.

You also can use the system to take one piece – such as a ring or pendant – and design a matching ensemble.You can use it to create corporate and award jewelry by photographing a company logo or business card. And you can even create individualized pieces from family crests.

Modeling Magic
GoldPro PC Toolbox, sold by Gold International Machinery Corp., Pawtucket, RI, is another innovative system featuring digitized scanning. The system translates a screen image into a blueprint for modeling and is connected to machines that make a custom model.

GoldPro's software, JewelCAD, is a three-dimensional computer-aided design program. Once you complete the initial design, you can experiment with it by choosing different shapes, sizes and colors of components from a software library.

Once the design is completed, JewelCAD transfers the file to a Gold International machine such as GoldPro ModelMaker (prices vary and are available upon request), which creates a castable 3-D wax model with accuracy to 0.0005 inch. It also can link the software to milling machines such as the GoldPro MODELA ($995), which makes milled wax models, or to the GoldPro PNC-2300 3-axis milling machine ($4,995), which makes wax, brass or aluminum milled models.

JewelCAD software operates under a Windows 95 or NT environment. A Pentium 166 with 32MB RAM is sufficient to run the system, but Gold International recommends a Pentium 200 with 64MB RAM for maximum performance. The JewelCAD system sells for $3,950 plus shipping and handling. A demo model is available for $85.

For more information on computer programs for custom design:

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


HomeAsk the ExpertBrainstormStatsSite of the WeekConsumer Press Scan
Your Business On-LineCalendarMagazine & Site ArchivesStaffSite Map
Professional Jeweler EventsGuide to Electronic Services
Classified On-LineJA Certification Study Session

Home Ask the Expert Brainstorm Stats Site of the Week Consumer Press Scan Your Business On-Line Calendar Staff Site Map