Design Focus

This installment of Design Focus was sponsored by Gemvision Corp. For information related to Gemvision products and services, visit, call (800) 357-6272, or e-mail:

Through the doors of the Philip Rickard Honolulu headquarters you’ll find a warm and inviting retail destination that not only displays original Hawaiian heirloom jewelry but also offers visitors an interesting perspective on Hawaiian history and culture in the adjacent jewelry heritage museum. (Hawaiian heirloom jewelry, which has roots in the late 1800s, is influenced by English Victorian mourning jewelry and features Hawaiian motifs with engraving and occasional black enameling.) The establishment, which also houses a large manufacturing facility, is staffed by over 40 jewelers, craftsmen, graphic artists, and sales professionals who design, manufacture, and sell Hawaiian heirloom jewelry to customers in Hawaii and across the globe. Along with traditional methods of designing and manufacturing, modern CAD/CAM technology is employed by Philip Rickard Honolulu in creating custom orders and the jewelry that links its wearers to Hawaii’s rich past.

Lester Ralph “Philip” Rickard set off for Europe after high school, traveling through London and Paris, bound for the famous jewelry manufacturing centers in Italy. In the midst of the Veneto region are the cities of Vicenza, Verona, and Venice, where he studied the historical transitions of jewelry and was influenced by the Renaissance period in Europe. Rickard continues to travel the world extensively for research, equipment, and cutting-edge jewelry procedures that he brings back to his Honolulu factory. Moving to Hawaii after a compelling vision in 1971, he worked construction jobs while saving to purchase equipment and outfit a workshop. In 1986 he opened his first retail store in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Today Philip Rickard Honolulu has six retail stores in the Hawaiian Islands, Web sites in English and Japanese, and a manufacturing and customer service location in Tokyo.

In Rickard’s world travels, he observed 3-D technology for the jewelry industry and considered how it would benefit his operation. After extensive research and consideration in 2004, Rickard made the commitment. He and select craftspeople from his operation began exploring Gemvision’s Matrix software in 2005 and then took a one-week Matrix class at the Gemvision training headquarters in Davenport, Iowa. The staff returned for additional CAD/CAM training in February 2006 and quickly incorporated the new programs into their custom design and manufacturing process.

Renowned worldwide as the source for the design and manufacturing of Hawaiian heirloom jewelry, Rickard was approached in 1987 to write the story behind the jewelry. The endeavor took six years and many trips to England to “uncover the true nature of the jewelry, its symbolism and origins.” In 1993 A Lasting Remembrance was published, bringing to light the history behind the evolution of traditional Hawaiian jewelry. Soon after, Rickard created the jewelry heritage museum on-site at the Honolulu store so that visitors—locals and tourists, natives, and newcomers alike—could learn about the story and perhaps feel more a part of the spirit of Aloha that pervades the islands.

Currently, three members of the Philip Rickard Honolulu staff use Gemvision’s Matrix 3D design software. Above, see a ring being designed by Pidou Phouthavong. He has established the basic shape and size and is adding embellishments according to the customer’s design request. The complex designs would be difficult to achieve consistently by hand, but using the computer enables detailed symmetry of the overall piece.

After developing designs in the CAD software, the design file is converted to a CAM file for use with the Revo540 wax milling machine. Thousands of lines of G-code scroll through the computer that runs the mill, dictating a tool path that cuts precise wax models in as little as 30 minutes. More complicated models can take several hours to mill. In the figure on page 137, Phouthavong sets up the wax milling machine for a custom-order project he created with Matrix software. While the wax is being carved by the mill, he will begin another design project using Matrix.

When asked about a typical piece produced using CAD/CAM Rickard responds, “We use CAD/CAM for the entire range of our products from rings to pendants to bangles. We also retrofit existing pieces and produce ongoing customer custom work with this wonderful technology.”

Liz Lerner, who runs Rickard’s public relations, says, “CAD/CAM has enabled our company to expand the horizons of traditional Hawaiian jewelry in the sense that pieces can now be mastered and re-created. Our designers are now able to concentrate on the passion of design and allow the technology to assist them in their creations. The end result is pieces that are impeccable in design.”

For more information about Philip Rickard Honolulu or the book Hawaiian HeirloomJewelry, visit © 2007 Mann Design Group Inc.