Jewelry has been around since the dawn of mankind, meaning the jewelry profession was not far behind. I imagine that from his cave, “Og” traded a bead or two for a mastodon rib. (Hey, a jeweler’s gotta eat, right?) We’ve come a long way baby. Progress in jewelry manufacturing has advanced with technology. There are some things that still need a well-trained, steady hand. However, there are many aspects of jewelry making that have advanced so that the art of science allows production of a product of equal or better quality through modern technology. As you would expect, many advances were made during the “space race” of the 1960s. But most recently the explosion in computer technologies has given a hometown jeweler the ability to manufacture top quality custom jewelry just like the big boys.
-CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design / Computer Aided Machining) can now be done affordably in a small shop with powerful programming that interfaces with a milling machine to create the wax models and cast right there in shop. The digital files can also be emailed to a “jobber” to cast the piece for you.
-The laser welder has become a must have for the advanced repair shop and manufacturer. This high tech machine, modified for the jewelry industry, can work around sensitive gemstones and previous repairs without damage, work on exotic metals that regular soldering cannot handle, and make a stronger more lasting repair.
-The newest technology moving into the jewelry industry is the 3-D printer which will take a multi-axis digital image and print a finished product in whatever material you choose, including metal. Someday you will be able to select an item from a catalog, push a button and the item will be printed in front of your eyes! I don’t expect it will reach stores in the near future, but certainly in the next 2-3 decades it will happen not only with jewelry, but with clothing, electronics and even food!
If you would like to see some of the latest technology at work, just come by the shop. We can also give you a killer recipe for “Og’s” mastodon ribs.
Send gem and jewelry questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.