Professional Jeweler Archive: Creating Complex Jewelry Simply

May 2002

Precious Metals/Metalsmithing

Creating Complex Jewelry Simply

Using CAD/CAM to design and manufacture a three-stone ring

Once the domain of large manufacturers, 3D jewelry design tools are being adopted increasingly by mainstream retail jewelers. Powerful and affordable new programs, the increased availability of opportunities to learn to use the software and innovations in CAD/CAM manufacturing processes make 3D jewelry design viable for a growing number of jewelers.

In this project, you’ll see the creation of a number of variations on the popular three-stone ring. It shows what can be done using little more than parts from an existing jewelry library and the ability to move, rotate and scale them accurately. This demonstration was done with Caligari’s jewelSpace,™ but the basic techniques are characteristic of other 3D programs also.

1. Load and size the elements of the design known in advance. For most clients, that’s usually no more than dimensions of the main stone and the ring size, which is where we’ll start for this piece. This design is a 1.0-ct. sapphire on a size 6 ring. Precision measurements at this stage can eliminate mistakes later in the design process.
2. Preview and load optional design elements from a library. Visual libraries are essential to finding design elements quickly, without having to remember the names of hundreds of parts located in dozens of program folders. You can create several variations of the popular three-stone ring style quickly and simply by selecting the needed side stones and ring shanks.
3. Attach the side stones and the shank to each other and rotate to fit the main stone. This simple rotation allows these design elements to fit any size center stone. There is no need to calculate specific angles because the work can be done visually. Note the axes of the stone and shank assembly are located at the centerpoint of the ring. This allows the stone and shank to spin freely around the ring mandrel.
4. Complete the procedure with four styles of ring shanks and four stone shapes. By scaling the stones slightly, you can produce a wide range of options for your prospective customer.
5. In a symmetrical design, use mirroring tools to complete the other half of the ring. Mirroring tools eliminate the need to model both sides of the ring.
6. Create a wide variety of designs to show a client by using nothing but the ability to move, rotate and scale existing components. Though similar ring styles are widely available, using CAD/CAM to show the design will give you a competitive advantage because you’ve personalized the experience for your customer. The customer sees a ring designed especially for him or her, using the customer’s stone and ring size. The effect of this personal design session is powerful, leading to more sales and greater customer satisfaction.

The tools and techniques needed to create these rings are simple. In a retail environment, some employees can learn the basics of a program, with training, to create similar pieces. A more proficient designer can take on more ambitious projects. The usability demonstrated in this project is one of the primary reasons CAD/CAM is quickly moving into the retail jewelry marketplace.

– by Randy Hays, G.J.G.

Randy Hays, G.J.G, owns Jewelscapes by Randy Hays and is director of product management for Caligari Corp.’s jewelSpace™ design software.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications