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Useful and interesting  stuff for Jewellers and Silversmiths


  • Dawn Meaden-Johnson

Jewellery Making | Hand-skills or CAD?

Deciding how you want to create jewellery is an important first step for any maker. Tradition or Technology both have their place in the industry.

Choosing which method is something to consider at the beginning of your journey as a Jeweller, this decision will be impactful and guide your making future.

1. Traditional Hand Skills

Traditional bench skills play an important part by creating a physical synergy with tools.

Applied to a wide variety of techniques hand skills can provide the methods for creating individual pieces or a master model for casting.

Bench skills can also provide important techniques for Stonesetting or Enamelling which can't be replicated in the additive manufacturing process.

2. New Technology | CAD (Computer Aided Design)

Designing by CAD creates a 3D STL design file which is used in the additive manufacturing process to create a model suitable for Casting. Note that some hand-skills such as polishing or stonesetting may be required in order to complete the piece.

> Additive Manufacturing | Models created by additive manufacturing can be used to easily replicate a single item or component many times. Once cast into precious metal some hand finishing is usually required to produce an item ready for sale, however some Casting Bureau's also offer a finishing and hallmarking service at an additional cost.

Many Jewellers are now choosing to combine bench skills and technology to create their Jewellery.

Learning the basics of traditional bench skills is always very helpful, even if you decide to design via CAD, this is because it will inform your design practise by enabling an understanding of important factors such as metal thickness, scale and wearability.

Tips for Jewellery Beginners

  • Undertake the best training course possible. Check out the professional expertise of the tutor, to be the best you need to learn from the best.

  • For Cad, research which software will suit your work. Many providers offer a free CAD taster session before you buy.

  • Practise makes perfect.

  • Strive for a perfect finish on your jewellery.

Learning Opportunities


About the author

Dawn Meaden-Johnson has over 30 years’ experience working in customer facing Creative and Commercial Industries and in Further Education, including at Birmingham City University School of Jewellery, during which time she has worked extensively with external national and international clients.

Dawn is a creative business development consultant and the founder of The Bespoke Jewellery Training Company which provides national one-to-one practical tuition for Jewellers and business enterprise skills training and enterprise mentoring for young makers in the West Midlands.

A Silversmith graduate of Birmingham City University School of Jewellery, Dawn still creates jewellery under the brand which specialises in limited edition contemporary jewellery.

Jewellery Repair Experience



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