Jewellery design - Great Expectations


25 years ago when I started work, if a client wanted a bespoke jewellery creation their ideas were hand drawn. Mostly this was 'back of a fag packet' type stuff. However good the artist, there was normally a difference between the drawing and the completed piece.

It was pot luck as to what they would receive.

Presenting the finished jewellery was a nerve-wracking affair. The jewellery frequently looked nothing like the image. Often to the dislike of the client.

The main problem was translating 1-dimensional images into 3-dimensional physical jewellery. Too much was left to chance.

Even early versions of CAD imagery was a massive step forward. It helped in many ways. It gave the salesperson confidence. The client was impressed with the images and they could understand the design easily. Most importantly it meant little was left to chance for the jeweller actually making the piece.

No losers.

Current CAD/CAM technology is superb. There are still some jewellers who offer an artists drawing of a design, as if this quaint way of working is still relevant. It isn't. CAD is the best way to design and create outstanding jewellery.

Everything about CAD, where bespoke jewellery, is concerned has been positive.

Well, almost everything.

Perhaps the only 'challenge' I can think of is just how good CAD imagery is. It is flawless. Unlike perhaps a diamond, or an actual piece of jewellery.

The images at the top of this page are of a ring design I recently created for a client. It is an extraordinarily unique ring by any measure. Bold in it's colouring and gemstones. When the client said 'Yes, I love the design' I couldn't wait to get started.

I took a video of the completed ring before I presented it to the client a couple of weeks ago. There were many challenges. It was complicated with enormous detail and technical manufacturing issues.

The challenge with presenting CAD design to clients is understanding both design and manufacture. This is where experience and knowledge is crucial. CAD has to be translated into a beautiful piece of wearable jewellery.

Most importantly though is attention to detail. The expectations of clients, because of CAD imaging being so good, is higher than ever.

I have frequently met with clients who have had a piece of jewellery made elsewhere. Their main gripe was the difference between the CAD design they were shown and the actual jewellery that was made. The age old problem.

Nowadays the issue is not that the jewellery looks nothing like the design. It is that our client expects the finished piece to look perfect. Just like the CAD image.

In my opinion this is a good thing. Challenging yes, but it means standards have to raise.