It was 2005 when I first became aware of the emergence of computer-aided design/computer aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) in the jewellery industry. At the time, I was a novice when it came to these tools and saw them as suitable for those few jewellers who had the rare blend of a keen understanding of jewellery manufacturing and the ability to use CAD software to design a 3D object on a flat 2D computer monitor.
Fast forward four years to when my brother and I decided it was time to add a new direction and challenge to our business. Throwing ourselves into this fast-evolving technology, we started to educate ourselves on the intricacies of CAD design, while deciding where we would fit within the jewellery industry. Several questions arose: Were we occupying an existing role within the industry or creating a new position? How were we going to impact or change the manufacturing process? Were we creating a new avenue by which more people would join the jewellery industry? I suppose this last question can be asked of any emerging technology in just about any industry. Perhaps the lessons learned from them might serve us well, as we move into uncharted territories.
The do-it-yourself effect
Industries experiencing a surge in technology have also seen growth in the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement. We have seen it happen to some extent in our industry with the explosion of diamond e-tailers. The growth of Internet engagement ring sales was due mainly to diamond manufacturers and wholesalers selling their inventory through these online trading platforms for the trade. As a result, diamonds became digital commodities that could be traded across borders and continents without ever leaving the owner’s sight until the sale was complete. With this digital inventory and a wealth of online information at their fingertips, many do-it-yourselfers came to consider themselves amateur gemmologists possessing basic skills that allow them to search for the diamond of their choice.