What is CAD?

Traditional hand-drawing and drafting methods are still utilized in designing jewellery, particularly at the conceptual stage. However, a shift is taking place to computer-aided design (CAD) programs like Matrix.

Whereas the traditionally hand-illustrated jewel is typically translated into wax or metal directly by a skilled craftsman, a CAD model is generally used as the basis for a CNC cut or 3D printed ‘wax’ pattern to be used in the rubber molding or lost wax casting processes.

Computer Aided Design has been in use for decades to help in manufacturing everything from tiny watch parts to cars and sky scrapers. At Willamette Artisans, we use a program called Matrix 7, which is the most advanced jewelry specific software available today. See the video (right) for an example of how the software can be used to realize your design ideas.

A major advantage of CAD is that you will be shown a fairly realistic picture or render of the piece before it is committed to the often costly materials of jewelry. At this stage you will be able to request changes to customize further or to just be confident to move forward with the design having seen what your piece is actually going to look like. Once the design is approved, it will be milled or 3D printed as a wax with the exact detail represented in the render. This in turn will be used to cast the actual piece in your choice of metal using the age old and industry standard method of lost wax casting.

Another advantage of CAD is that in the potentially devastating event that your jewelry is lost, stolen or beyond repair, we can remake your piece either from the exact design that we created for you or from a picture and/or description (if we did not initially create the piece).

Though people are often inspired by designs that we’ve done for others, usually they choose to make a new unique piece to suit their individuality. Here are just a couple examples of what is possible. Many of the pieces in our custom jewelry sections were created using CAD:

The Case for Modification

You can also utilize your old jewelry that you just don’t wear anymore and have us reuse the stones and metal to create something new and unique that reflects you and your lifestyle today. Custom is the name of the game when it comes to computer design. We can guide you through the process of creating a piece that is like no other.

This can be in relation to a repair, or preemption of a repair, or in response to your evolving tastes and necessities. You might replace a prong setting with a more compact and secure bezel setting due to your active lifestyle.