Danielle Rose at her CAD station Danielle Rose at her CAD station

Recently the Q Report team interviewed one of our Q Certified Jewellers - CAD (Computer Aided Design) specialist Danielle Rose from Rock Couture. We asked her about the benefits and challenges of using CAD.

How important is CAD for modern jewellers?
I believe CAD is becoming increasingly important for Australian jewellers in order to keep up with international jeweller's trends and advanced standards. Internationally, CAD has been heavily used for decades, and combined with skyrocketing metal prices and the Australian manufacturing industry fading quickly it's essential that jewellers look to gain other efficiencies and advantages in other forms.

Why do you use CAD?
I utilise CAD for a number of reasons in my business, I design and draw pieces for my own clients and then outsource the finishing component to one of my talented jewellers. The biggest benefit I have here is to be able to show a client what they are going to get before we invest any time or money in the project with a 99% accurate full 3D render. It removes the "risk" element for a client who may struggle to imagine what it may look like, as well as varying interpretations by the jeweller who may have different understandings to the designer.

I frequently saw this occur when working in retail jewellery, and the client would either just have to be accept the result or the jeweller would have to embark on a costly remake and almost always wipe out any profit. So far since using CAD to assist I've had 100% success rate in delivering exactly what my clients want.

Secondly I draw and design for jewellers within the trade, not every jeweller has the 3000+ hours to invest in learning and mastering the program so I am able to work with anyone from single shop operators to big multi-store jewellers to do custom one off pieces to building masters for multi productions.

It allows me to be involved in all aspects of jewellery, there are literally hundreds of design ideas that morph from one concept, and I'm very lucky to be able to be exposed to and work with some very creative jewellers. I find the more people I work with, the more my own creativity is fuelled!

How do older jewellers respond to it?
I find older jewellers are much more reluctant to want to try CAD, and refuse to believe that a CAD produced piece can ever be as good as a fully handcrafted piece.

It is certainly not the case and it's possible to actually combine both to also get a great result, eg. CAD full circle channel shank + hand drawn wire collette. In this instance it is more likely that the CAD full circle shank will provide an extremely accurate, even setting and spacing of the stones, much more than what a hand sculpted piece would provide.

The more complex the piece, the more scope there is for CAD to provide a superior result without the extraordinary cost it would take to handmake. By what it seems, when jewellers experience CAD they are impressed and can see huge benefit to their clients and businesses. Until then they appear to remain sceptical!

Does the computer ensure that CAD designed pieces are always structurally sound?
Quality and sound structure is not always ensured with CAD, its up to the skill and attention to micro details by the CAD designer to ensure the piece equals and outweighs the attributes of a handmade piece.

Do you have any other comments about CAD?
This is my 15th year in the industry now, and of all the roles I've experienced in buying and designing, marketing and retail, the CAD element is the one that provides the most enjoyment and challenge and above all satisfaction to me. I can see a great future.