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Dream Machines
What's on a custom jeweler's wish list? Here are tools that bench gurus swear are worth every penny.


CAD: “AN INCALCULABLE TIMESAVER”

What it does: Computer Aided Design allows jewelry designers to “build” a concept onscreen, add and adjust color as desired, then rotate it through three dimensions to see how it looks from all angles.

Why have one: Being able to “test” a design onscreen before committing to its actual manufacture is a great time and material saver. Jewelers also find CAD is a sales tool. Letting a client see how her custom jewelry will look, and being able to make suggestions and then almost instantly view the results of her input, can seal the deal.

“I can’t live without our CAD software, Matrix by Gemvision, which we’ve been using for more than four years,” says Eric Riddlespurger, vice president and master goldsmith at Liberty Jewelry Manufacturing Co., Timonium, Maryland. “It has benefited us to a degree that I can’t calculate or express.”

He notes, “We’re a 70-year-old company that manufactures 90 percent of what we sell. We’re very open about our manufacturing—our showroom fronts a 4,000-square-foot factory and warehouse space.”

Riddlespurger says CAD is one of those high-tech tools that a jeweler can show a customer, confident that she’ll understand right away what’s going on. “It’s a tremendously customer-friendly tool. You can sit a client in front of the screen and show her a piece in all of its three-dimensional glory.”

He says that before using CAD, he was almost computer illiterate. “CAD forced me to become literate really fast. Fortunately Gemvision offered fairly user-friendly training courses. They taught us enough of the basics to get us started.” Before CAD, he says, everything Liberty designed was by hand, sometimes with a lot of do-overs. “Now it’s as easy as pushing a button to tweak a design.”

The machine added to the company’s prestige. “We were known before CAD for our intricate hand-work, so the addition of the software polished our reputation even more. Right off the bat we were able to execute some pretty fancy stuff.”

Riddlespurger looks at CAD as being just as much an essential tool as a saw or file. “It’s an incalculable timesaver. I used to work routinely until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. just to keep up with workflow. I’m still very busy and put in long hours, but can now do so much more in the same amount of time.”





CAD Matrix software from Gemvision Corporation

Virtual design: CAD Matrix software from Gemvision Corporation, (800) 357-6272, www.gemvision.com.

Paul Lubitz of Holly Yashi

Paul Lubitz of Holly Yashi shows a sample of the types of patterns the OMAX waterjet can cut.

Photo: Humboldt State University/Kellie Jo Brown.


bracelet by Holly Yashi

This “Vashti” bracelet by Holly Yashi is an example of the work that can be created with an abrasive waterjet machine, (800) 274-2714, www.hollyyashi.com.

Eric Riddlespurger of Liberty Jewelry Mfg.

Eric Riddlespurger of Liberty Jewelry Mfg., Timonium, Maryland, at work with the CAD Matrix software by Gemvision.

Eric Riddlespurger of Liberty Jewelry Mfg.

Eric Riddlespurger of Liberty Jewelry Mfg., Timonium, Maryland, demonstrates CAM manufacturing with the Revo mill from Gemvision.

Rofin StarWeld jewelry laser microwelder

Rofin StarWeld jewelry laser microwelder available from Stuller, which recently released volume 73 of its tools catalog, (800) 877-7777, www.stuller.com.

iWeld laser system by Crafford-LaserStar Technologies

The iWeld laser system by Crafford-LaserStar Technologies, (401) 438-1500, www.laserstar.net.

Signature 8080 Super model engraving machine from Signature Engraving Systems

Signature 8080 Super model engraving machine from Signature Engraving Systems, (800) 323-3283, www.signature-engravers.com.