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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.


“Our Crafford-LaserStar laser is probably our favorite tool. We can go days without turning on a torch because of it,” says Jeff Walker, head designer at Cornell’s Jewelers, Rochester, New York.

“We’ve had it for seven years. We’d been told it was good for laser welding close to stones because it could direct intense heat while leaving areas around it cool,” he says. But the major reason the store bought it was for platinum sizing and pronging. “With the laser there was no loss of alloy when we heated things. With silver, which transfers heat dramatically faster than other metals, thereby affecting gemstones in silver rings, we found we could work much more confidently.”

Walker was pleased at how much they could do with the laser when it came to fixturing and putting things together. “Where we used to use tweezers to hold a head in a shank while we soldered, with the laser we could insert a shank, zap it to hold it in place, then solder at leisure. We found that we could solder things that we couldn’t before.”

He says the laser was a fairly large expenditure. “Back then the cost was about $35,000 or $40,000. The price has come down considerably and the technology has gotten better, especially when it comes to welding silver.”

ENGRAVER: “A BUSINESS THAT DOES NOT DIE”

What it does: Engravers use hardened steel or even diamond points to cut a fine line in a piece of metal, usually reproducing classical typefaces for a formal effect. A computerized engraver offers both the ability to cut very fine lines in different decorative or type styles while eliminating concerns about centering or running out of space.

Why have one: Very few jewelers can offer onsite engraving, so the ability to do so is attractive to clients who want both a quick turnaround and a chance to discuss exactly what they want. An engraving machine can become the basis of a profitable and steady sideline.

In 1986, Ginny Meyer, dissatisfied with the quality of engravings she was sending out, bought a hand-manipulated engraving machine so she could do the work in-house at Ginny’s Gems in Howell, New Jersey. That investment turned out to be perhaps the best business move she ever made.





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.