by Gypsy » May 24, 2012 OKAY... so here is a general note (and I'm thinking I'm going to be cutting and pasting this often) about CAD work and your local jeweler. Many people new to jewelry do not understand the disparity in the quality and skills of jewelry manufacturers and how much difference it can make in the product they give you. I'd like to explain take this chance to explain it to you from my perspective. Here's the key: It's art. And you have to think of it as art. You can have a camera and take pictures? But your pictures and the pictures hanging in the Guggenheim are very different, right? Well it's the same thing with making and designing jewelry. Many people get confused think that it's just a matter of the right mechanics... halo, plus shank, plus little stones = same thing each time, from each person who has a CAD set up. It's very hard for people initially to grasp that there is such a disparity between the skills but most importantly the TALENT of the person designing their piece. And with CAD its even worse and more confusing because -- well it's just a computer program right? So they think that if my local guy has the same program and has some casting equipment then why not go with him? They really don't understand that there is artistry in CAD work too, and that a good CAD person is an ARTIST, not a mechanic. It's very frustrating for us because we really have some of the BEST CAD artists making our pieces on this site and when people come on here and they see the designs they think that it's a matter of replication and that anyone with the equipment and software can do it. And it's really not. Do you want someone making your jewelry is the equivalent of someone who just has a camera and takes pics or do you want the person who can take a camera and create art, who has an eye, a talent, something that can't be replicated or taught, but just is? And that's just the artistry of it. The mechanics themselves are also very important as well. Casting is a great method, when done right, but a little bit of air can turn a casting into swiss cheese and make it fragile. Insufficient supports and balance in a piece can make a piece weak at certain stress points and even during regular wear and tear they can bend and warp. Going too thin on a shank can do that. Finish details and skills are extremely important too. And so are stone setting skills-- especially with colored stones. All of these mechanics and skills come from experience, and experience and skill demand a higher price just as with anything else. Your football team is in the Superbowl and has two quarterbacks to chose from. Do you want them to start to the kid right out of college who may be good or the guy with two Superbowl wins already? Which do you choose? And which one makes more? Of course you go for the experienced guy and of course you pay more for him. Why would you expect then, that with jewelry, that going with the cheapest quote is going to give you the same quality as paying more for better quality. You wear a ring everyday. With every movement it potentially takes damage, so don't you want something that's going to stand up that kind of wear? Of course you do. Well, you have to pay for that. If your local guy is a lot cheaper than one of the proven PS vendor quotes, there is a reason. I don't care what his sales pitch is, there is a reason he is so cheap. If you want good CAD and CAST work-- work that is beautiful artistically but that also stands the test of time and is worth the time and effort and expense of custom--you really need to go with someone with a proven record of combining artistry and engineering successfully. Because you need both. Without art you end up with something that's as sturdy as a battleship, and just as pretty. Without engineering you end up with something beautiful that is damaged irrevocably through simple daily wear. But what does a proven record mean? Does it mean a few yelp reviews from people who don't know anything about jewelry? From your friend who thinks her ring is sparkly and has no idea of the quality other than it's brand or lack there of... or worse, who just thinks it's pretty and that's all that matters. Who recommends a jeweler is a very important thing. A lot of our posters have experience with multiple projects, and have seen different examples of the type of work and really take the time to understand good workmanship and appreciate quality. So please understand when we make a recommendation we have nothing to gain, we are just doing this because we are enthusiasts, and we really want you to get the best quality you can for your budget and we'll try to help you. But you have to listen, too. It's a joint effort.