How to Interpret CAD: Computer Aided Design
Posted on October 22 2015
In jewelry, CAD is a computer design program that builds a 3-D model that ultimately prints a wax. The wax is then used in the casting process to produce the ring in metal. CAD has transformed the jewelry business by allowing designers to create highly intricate and innovative designs without having to manually construct each ring by hand. The one hiccup with CAD is that the image reflects the casting phase of the piece, not the finished piece once stone setting and polishing is performed. This can be confusing for customers as they expect the ring to have all the finishing details that are done by hand in the CAD design. Below are the main things that everyone should know when looking at a CAD design.
Every time a customer looks at a CAD, they immediately notice that the prongs stick up straight and are very high. Prongs are always designed facing upward because they need to be out of the way for diamonds to be set. If a ring was designed with the prongs already bent into place, we would run into problems of not being able to get the stone in the ring.
Everyone cares about how thick the shank is on their ring. As soon as they see the mm thickness on the CAD design they always get concerned that the ring is going to be too thick. Jewelry is always designed heavier and thicker than it needs to be because you lose metal when you polish. The extra support also allows the jeweler to have extra metal in case they need it (sometimes stones are not cut as ideal as we hope). It is always easier to polish metal away than to add metal after things are too thin.
CAD is a magnified image and not true to scale. Everything is larger, wider, and taller than the real thing. Understanding scale is important because sometimes we are inclined to make adjustments to a CAD based upon our assumption that it is true to size.
CAD design is very helpful, but it can also make things more complicated. As the designer, it aids in the execution of a design. For the customer, it can almost be daunting and cause more anxiety about their purchase. We always recommend that if there is a CAD for your custom order, please set up an appointment to review the cad with one of our designers.