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To CAD or not to CAD?: Deciding when CAD is the right tool for a design

By Shele Lewin

CAD-main'So I traded in my mukluks for a pair of flip flops and moved to California from Toronto. I have to say it was a bit surreal to listen to Christmas songs while the air conditioner hummed in the background. I do miss my native land, but the offer to move to a place with an abundance of sunshine and year-round temperatures in the mid-20s was too tempting.

Before the move, my office was at 21 Dundas Square in Toronto, one of the city’s jewellery buildings. Yes, the elevators didn’t always work and the temperature inside was often too hot in the summer and a bit cold in the winter, but I loved the place. As a kid, I often mailed packages there from my parents’ store in Calgary. To me, it was the heart of Canada’s jewellery industry. And when I moved my business there in 2000, I felt I had become part of that special place.


When you work in a jewellery building, you tend to be surrounded by all manner of experts. Before starting to build a CAD model on a particularly challenging job, I often consulted with a variety of casters, setters, and jewellers on the different floors. Each one had their specialty and they bestowed on me a wealth of information. I am extremely grateful they were so willing to impart their knowledge, some of which I’m sharing with you in this column.

Although my business centred on distributing CAD/CAM products, I understood the importance of discerning when these were appropriate tools with which to design a piece of jewellery and when they weren’t. Let’s look at the most frequent occurrences of when CAD may not be the best design tool.

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