Art comes in almost as many shapes and sizes as jewellery, so it’s no surprise that somebody who’s been in the industry as long as I have would think the two have a lot more in common than a  lot of people guess. At its best, a good piece of jewellery is a statement you wear on you like a badge of pride – whether that statement is about your family, your morals or maybe just your latest raise, it’s something you show off to the world that gives off the message that you chose.

That’s what makes jewellery personal, and it’s that personal connection that keeps guys like me coming to work day after day. The relationship between jeweller and customer, even if the two never meet, is reflected every moment that the piece is out in the public eye. When somebody made a piece with their own hands, there’s intent there – mindful design that’s reflected in the final product.

So you can understand why I’d be distraught at the thought of automation taking over the jewellery industry and putting the people I consider to be artists out of work. CAD (Computer Assisted Design) is the mass production of jewellery via the assembly line, and it removes the personal touch that I described above and makes jewellery cheap and easy. The proponents of CAD are always talking about how computers can produce jewellery more efficiently and more accurately than a human, but what they don’t mention is what you’re giving up in the trade-off – sometimes the little imperfections are what makes a piece of jewellery special. As we’ve covered before, a unique edge is the most important thing to look for when you’re looking for something to show off, and human error is often what makes a piece really special. CAD can help make a thousand pieces exactly as designed, but that means that a thousand other people are going to have an identical piece of jewellery – even when you’re working from the same design, any jeweller can tell you now that no two pieces put together by human hands are ever really identical like these are.

Additionally, because of how the CAD process works, the jewellery that is produced by it naturally has a lesser shelf life than that of a handmade piece. This is due to CAD’s reliance on casting, which adds alloys to the metals that makes for pieces with less physical longevity. Hand-made pieces are far more resilient as they don’t have to go through this casting process, because they metals have been work hardened.

Likewise, while CAD may help realise a design more precisely, by necessity that design has to be simple – while handmade pieces are often made of several pieces of metal brought together to form a cohesive piece, jewellery that comes from CAD can only consist of a single solid piece. This makes CAD pieces less complex and, at least in my humble opinion (and hopefully yours too), less impressive. This is an easy way to spot a handmade piece from a CAD piece – the simplicity and elegance of design. Jewellery that comes from CAD also has a tendency to display more vibrant colours, which again comes from the artificially added alloys.

There’s no doubt that CAD has a place in the jewellery industry, but I’m hesitant to comment as to where that place should be. The current trends lean towards more and more of this sort of automation which takes away all the passion from the work, and robs the industry of people like me who are here for that passion. It’s what brought us into the fold, and it’s what makes us stay.

It’s why at TCJ, we still focus on making truly beautiful handcrafted pieces of jewellery that will stand the test of time. If you want a piece that a piece of software could never design for you, then you need to get in contact with us today.

The jewellery business shouldn’t just be a collection of trinkets – it should be art.

And art comes from human fingers - like ours.