It is a wide misconception that CAD-CAM is a newly introduced aspect of the jewelry industry. In fact, CAD has been used by jewelers and jewelry artists since the 1980s. The reason that we are hearing so much about CAD today is not only because the speed and technology have improved significantly since the ‘80s, but, more importantly, the social acceptance of the technology is on the rise.
It is not unusual to face a bit of resistance when we start using what is considered a tool as a form of expression. This has been seen across creative mediums.
Let’s think about painting: Throughout history, we see painters using the canvas to tell a story for contemporary society. In the Early Renaissance, painting was a mechanism for capturing and recording biblical stories for an often times illiterate church audience. Paint was the tool for telling a story. Contemporary nobles were often painted into the likeness of religious figures to acknowledge artistic patronage and support of the church, as well as importance within a community.
(Annunciation by Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi, 1333)
As society became more secular, we see painters using the canvas to depict what they see around them on the streets and in nature. Painting was becoming more personal. We see city streets, contemporary fashions, hustle, bustle, and the modernization of buildings and roadways that speak of progress and evolution. It was only natural for paint and its application techniques to continue to evolve. With time and quite a bit of resistance, paint became a medium for emotional expression. (Paris Street; Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte, 1877)
But the evolutionary use of paint on the canvas didn’t stop there because the emotional expression of the artist is individualized to the artist. Paint, which was once confined to a canvas, eventually came off the wall and became an object in and of itself.
(Left: Eyes in the Heat by Jackson Pollock, 1946. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, 1976; © 2017 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Right: Fling, Dribble, and Drip by Lynda Benglis. February 27, 1970, Life Magazine)
CAD is a language that more and more people are willing to speak. When CAD was first being adopted by members of the jewelry industry, there was quite a bit of stigma associated with the technology and many believed that it detracted from generations of skill acquired at the bench. So much of the jewelry industry is made up of family businesses that still operate with paper ledgers and have no digital record of inventory! When so many balk at the idea of using Excel and find memo sheets dated from the 1960s, imagine what happened when CAD was introduced to the industry.
Today, CAD is becoming much more widely accepted, due in large part to accessibility, which I will tackle in my next post. I will leave you with a final thought: I believe we will see revolutionary adaptation and acceptance of CAD in the jewelry industry as it continues to be embraced and mastered as a medium for expression.