Colored Stones: AGTA’s On-Site CAD/CAM Studio & More

Design on the Run

The American Gem Trade Association added something brilliant to this year’s Tucson GemFair: an on-site CAD/CAM studio on the show floor to enable shoppers to design jewelry with their loose stones before they headed home.

Six designers were on hand to make models—some even printing waxes—for merchants, all in an effort to help turn merchandise faster.

Once Mark Mann heard of the plans, he asked to participate. The director of global jewelry manufacturing arts for GIA set up an adjacent booth to answer questions about CAD technology. Some of the scenarios he encountered during the show included independent retailers doing designs in Adobe Illustrator—not hand rendering—but lacking enough knowledge to move into CAD design. “We reviewed software and machine costs, talked about the benefits of mixing CAD skills with hand detailing, and were asked if GIA was contemplating an e-learning program,” he told JCK.

Meanwhile, the CAD design companies doing the work were equally pleased with the setup. Ray Babikian, founder and CEO of 3D Space Pro in Reseda, Calif., had his team design pieces gratis (retailers didn’t have to pay unless they liked them); if they liked the designs, they could take home a wax printed at his booth. He also had software options available for purchase. By the fourth day of the show, Babikian’s staff had sold 40 designs.

Next door, Vic and Ken Haladjian, owners of Exclusive Jewelry Designs in Los Angeles, had their own success stories to share: 15 different logo designs for merchants from Kansas, a wedding set for a retailer from Virginia, and a significant ­bracelet for a client in Houston—all pieces designed gratis (a fee exists for wax production completed after the show).

The studio was so popular, in fact, that AGTA CEO Doug Hucker hopes to expand the outfit for next year: “It made a difference to jewelers, to show them we’re here to work with them and help them,” he said.

For more colorful gemstone talk

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