Computer Aided Design Image of Lorrie’s Engagement Ring.

Shaping the Jewelry World in the Virtual World

Jewelry has been around for a long time.  There is no definitive answer as to when we first took to using personal ornaments, but some of the oldest known artifacts are actually 100,000 year old beads.

Over time, As our ability to shape the earth around us improved, so did our jewelry designs.

Now, we can have drawings made in 2D come to life with 3D wax models.  Jewelers can now show their clients what their jewelry will look like in concept better than ever before. And before using any precious metals.

A drawing of Lorrie's Engagement Ring That I Gave to my CAD Guy.

A drawing of Lorrie’s Engagement Ring That I Gave to my CAD Guy.

CAD and CAM What’s the Difference

CAD and CAM stand for computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing. Their names offer some clues as to the difference between the two.  In short, CAD focuses on software that is used to design what CAM can then be used to create.

Still confused? Let’s break each down further!

2D Design Software – The Brush and Paint Palette 

Hearing CAD makes one think of computer generated 3d models, but it’s important to keep the words “computer-aided design” in mind.  2d design software, such as photoshop, adobe illustrator, and the jewelry specific Gemvision Design Studio are forms of CAD.


Lorrie’s Completed Engagement Ring With all the Details Shown That Were Previously an Image on a Screen.

2D design software grants a person the virtual equivalent of an art studio of supplies. A skilled pro can mock up beautiful 2D designs using these software choices.

This software also plays an important role in post-production work, such as editing and resizing images to be used in magazines and other visually based industries.

2D CAD Software – The Draftman’s Table


An Example of Vectorworks no Color 2D Computer Design.

On the other end of the 2D CAD spectrum, you’ll find programs like Vectorworks,  where 2D design software like Photoshop is the paintbrush and palette.

2D CAD software like Vectorworks is the technical draftsman’s table.

Here, there are no strokes of color, just lines known as “vector lines.”

These lines can be manipulated any which way you want, allowing for very detailed 2D designs.

A Maker Fair With Inventions and Toys and One of a Kind Ideas Made With CAD and CAM.

A Maker Fair With Inventions and Toys and One of a Kind Ideas Made With CAD and CAM.

3D CAD Software and the Maker Revolution

3D CAD is the virtual equivalent of a metalworking shop!  With this you can create 3 dimensional models to your exact specifications. These computer models can then be rendered in wax for jewelers or other materials, like plastic for tool makers to show realistic looking models of pieces to be made.

Its popular software includes JewelCAD, Rhino, Powershape, and Firestorm.

Have you heard about the “maker” revolution? It’s where artists, entrepreneurs and tinkerers with a computer, a program and a 3D printer can make car body parts, robot components or inventive prototypes for their inventions. You’ll understand now why jewelers are so excited by the CAD/CAM revolution in their jewelry design realm.

What About CAM?


This Machine Makes the Wax From the CAD design

Computer-aided manufacturing handles… manufacturing!

Some of my dedicated readers may remember this machine (picture to the left) from my previous post: Wax Carving Explained in Jewelry Design-The Three Types of Wax Model Making for Jewelry.


In jewelry, CAM allows for the creation of wax models.  These wax models then go through various steps before the finished ring is cast.


A Computer Aided Modeling Machine Grew This Wax, Row by Row, Very Precisely.

These waxes  can be shown to the client. I’ll mention that CAM created waxes are more fragile than their hand carved brothers.

The CAM waxes I have made can take 3 – 5 hours to grow. For that reason I show pictures of waxes rather than physically show the wax to my clients.

I prefer that to the risk of snapping off a prong or otherwise damaging them. Which has happened to me. Live and learn!

CAM tools include: EdgeCAM or InventorCAM, GibbsCAM, and MasterCAM

I’ve been asked about CAD design and CAM waxes and figured it was time to drill down to the details and share them with you. I’m excited by this new technology and how it let’s me try new things and stretch my jewelry design wings!

Embracing the CAD/CAM world,
Calla Gold

0 0 vote
Article Rating

About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Amy Marie Orozco
6 years ago

The difference between CAD and CAM is very interesting. I bet some workplaces use this blog post as required reading. Along with some design schools. Well done! I marvel at how prolific you are.

Lynn K. Jones
6 years ago

Very interesting peek into the world of CAD and CAM. I’m curious if you use all of these for your design process? Is it hard to keep up with the technology?