Ring CADs Can Look Ugly – Ring Design and Your CAD

 Ring CAD images of rings

Left – Utilitarian Ring CAD, Right – Illustrative CAD. CAD on right image courtesy of techonjoyas at grabcad.com

Barb and the Ugly CAD

CAD = Computer Aided Design

Barb called me when she got the email and said, “I know you warned me that my ring CAD image would not be pretty, but I’m not sure we should go forward.”

Barb felt the prongs were too long and wanted to see how the hand engraving would look and it just looked blocky and kind of ugly. That was not how she wanted her ring to look.

“My brother is an architect, so I’ve seen CADs and this just isn’t the ring we discussed.”

I realized that I’d need to do a better job  of  preparing people for the type of ring CAD images I use in custom jewelry design. And I’d have to put out this fire fast or I wouldn’t be able to make Barb’s beautiful diamond ring.

Illustrative CADs vs. Utilitarian CADs

Alice Herald for 1791 Diamonds LTD. CAD of three ring wedding set.

This is an Illustrative CAD with Much Time Spent on Making it Look as Realistic as Possible. Image courtesy of Alice Herald for 1791 Diamond LTD.

CADs that attempt to show the finished piece are more like illustrations. They show detail, color and are representative of what your ring will look like when finished.

In other words they show the pretty. They sell you on that design.

A simple utilitarian CAD shows the shape of the wax that will be created in the 3D model wax prototype.

An illustrative CAD image takes more time to create and therefore is more costly. Expect to pay more for your design if you wish to have a beautiful illustrative CAD image of it.

The Utilitarian CAD – What I Use

Ring CAD and Finished emerald and diamond ring

A Utilitarian Ring CAD for an Emerald and Diamond Ring

A utilitarian CAD has the depths, thickness and correct measurements of your design with no details other than those necessary for the creation of the wax model for casting your rings.

If you’d like to know more about CADs read my post : CAD and CAM, a Jeweler’s Workshop on Your Computer Screen.

Why Parts of Your CAD Look Blocky

Why are the prongs so huge and blocky? The most challenging parts of a design to cast successfully are the narrow and small parts.

Ring CAD and Finished diamond ring

When Finishing Engraving and Polishing of Prongs are Done the Ring Just Sings.

Prongs are small and narrow. They are the most challenging part to cast correctly.

When we create ring CAD prongs we make the wax extra thick and extra long to give your design the best chance to cast up successfully.

Your design may look a bit alarming and unfinished in CAD. Once we’ve successfully cast your design we’ll make our alternations. We’ll file those prongs shorter, polish and refine them into the tapered, elegant and graceful prongs we’ve envisioned.

CAD of Engagement ring and finished ring

I Made This Engagement Ring to Go With Her Wedding Band. Scary CADs, Gorgeous Ring.

If the prongs don’t cast successfully, any post-casting repair wouldn’t have the integrity of cast together metal. We want you to have a strong and beautiful piece of jewelry. That’s why we do it this way.

How Do You Know it’ll Come Out Nice?

Look at other designs your jeweler has created to see what the finished details will probably look like.

Details that Come Later

Two views of Calla Gold Jewelry's Trinity Ring

Two Views of my Trinity Ring with All Round Diamonds. Its CAD Was Pretty Uninspiring Looking.

If your ring will have hand engraving on it, that will be done after casting.

So if you’re looking at a dull as dirt, boring ring CAD, fear not.

It doesn’t show you the magic of your ring.

What About Barb?

I explained about the different CADs that are used. And showed her before and after pictures of other projects I’d done. She said “go ahead.” And when it was all done she said, “It’s what I’ve dreamed of. I just love it!”

I decided to write this blog with her story. And to help my future clients who may freak out when they see their CADs.

Your finished ring will dazzle you.

Your CAD-Happy Jewelry Designer,
Calla Gold

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.


  1. Alexandra on July 15, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Great story, Calla! CADs are scary- I didn’t realize that there were levels of looks with CAD. I see that the utilitarian one shows the design, but without the pretty details.
    I wouldn’t want to pay for the pretty details CAD.
    Good for you, for telling to your story, explaining what your client is getting and what your style of CAD shows. Looking at your work shows your clients how talented you are! Your CADs show what you heard from your client in shape, not detail. Your finished work shows that.

    • Calla Gold on July 16, 2015 at 7:55 am

      Hi Alexandra,
      I appreciate your telling me what you’d like and how you’d know if the jeweler you chose could get the details right. Thanks too for your kind words!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  2. Lisa Darsonval on July 20, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Great info on CADs. I can see how people would be nervous seeing the utilitarian CAD, but your end result work is beautiful. Not having known that CADs came in different styles made this a very interesting read for me.
    Thanks for your body of interesting question answering blogs.

    • Calla Gold on July 22, 2015 at 6:45 am

      Dear Lisa,
      I appreciate your feedback.
      True story, I’m working with a client in Florida and he wanted to know how his ring project was going along. I emailed him, told him gemstone selection was done and we’d just created the wax model for casting. I also send one of the CAD images. He came back by email a bit concerned about the prongs sticking “up to the sky.” I sent him the link to this newly published CAD blog and he thanked me and said “carry on.”
      His ring is done and I just emailed him the picture of his gorgeous finished ring.
      I have a feeling that blog will come in handy in the future for me with my distance clientele.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Loved that timing.

  3. Lynn K. Jones on July 22, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I’m glad Barb was able to get past the ugliness of the CAD and end up with her dream ring!

    Do you now show images of rings during CAD and at their finished stage when warning clients about the ugliness of CAD?

  4. Crystal on May 8, 2016 at 11:30 am

    We just got my CAD drawings yesterday, we both thought it looked very boxy, so I Googled drawings and saw your description I feel a lot better about it.glad I found this!

    • Calla Gold on May 9, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      Hello Crystal,
      I’m so pleased that that helped. Do come by when your ring is done and let us know if that clunky CAD turned into a swan.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  5. Liz on October 26, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    I think it’s kinda cool..to be able to see and make possibly any changes , before it’s set in gold
    Thank you for sharing this. I like seeing the process.

    This is why I chose YOU to make my rings!

    • Calla Gold on October 27, 2017 at 6:08 am

      Hi Liz,
      I love that you read this before looking at the CADs I emailed to you. That you chose me makes my day!!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

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