The most influential CAD program for jewelry to date has been Rhinoceros by McNeel and Associates in Seattle..
Bob McNeel and his group of talented developers launched Rhinoceros in 2000 as an open source software program that could be customized by anyone for their own specific use. The Rhinoceros CAD engine, based on NURBS ( Non Uniform Rational B-Splines ), has been the building block foundation for jewelry specific software like Gemvsion Matrix, TDM Solutions RhinoGold, RhinoJewel, and Solutech3D to name just a few. If you are a die-hard techno geek and had plenty of time to devote, you too could make your own custom software using Rhinoceros as your basis.
All of these Rhinoceros jewelry plug-in programs can help you design jewelry. It is more a question of how much financial investment you are willing to make and how much time you will spend learning how the software works. RhinoGold and RhinoJewel are both very reasonably priced but certainly lack the depth of features and support you might find in Matrix. In short, you get what you pay for.
My rule of thumb when evaluating software is to first try the training and tutorials to see if you can understand and feel comfortable with the user interface. Also make sure you are buying features for the future use as well as today’s needs. The real cost of software is not the price you pay for the license today but, in how much of your valuable time you will need to become productive and how versatile the tool will be in the years to come.