Tech: Diamond iPhones, iPad Apps, New Custom-Design Software

Touching Display

C&A Diamonds International recently introduced a new iPad app, the JewelPadTouch, which allows authorized retailers to offer interactive catalogs, customize mountings, and manage their client database. It supports two brands: Lume Collection and the Caro 74 loose diamond and bridal line. C&A, a subsidiary of DTC sightholder Shrenuj, has filed a patent application to protect its intellectual property rights on this app. JewelPadTouch was introduced at JCK Las Vegas, where the company distributed free iPads with the application to clients meeting minimum dealer purchase requirements. —Rob Bates

Polished Apple

Stuart Hughes—a Liverpool, England, gadget geek who has taken the bedazzling craze to stratospheric new levels (a $3 million rose-gold-and-diamond iPhone with an ostrich-foot wallet?!?)—has unveiled his newest creation: a diamond-encrusted iPhone 4, which sells for £12,995 (about $20,000). It’s encrusted with about 6.5 cts. t.w. of F VVS diamonds, and only 50 have been produced. The company says that while it’s sold many diamond 3G phones—accessorized with 3 cts. t.w. of diamonds and priced at £9,995 ($15,000)—at press time it had sold only one of the 4s. —RB

Sculpting With Computers

Does $20,000 buy unlimited nights and weekends?

The buzz on custom for the millennials is all about CAD/CAM—yet some jewelers still think the look is more cookie-cutter than craftsman. Well, the latest and greatest developments in sculptural CAD design are about to change that perception. CAD tools that paint and sculpt virtual clay—with names like ZBrush, ClayTools, Sculptris, and Mudbox—are fast becoming the fascination of the tech-savvy jeweler.

The uses are many, but the results can be astounding. Former Hollywood sculptor/animator Tomas Wittelsbach has been using Matrix for his House of Wittelsbach designs. He found ZBrush from Pixologic to be the perfect companion tool to create one-of-a-kind works like the Sugar Skull ring. The software is easy to learn, costs $595, and can run comfortably on any PC or Mac.

Sugar Skull ring in 18k gold; $3,500; House of Wittelsbach, Chetek, Wis.; 715-764-1011;

Another option: SensAble Technologies’ FreeForm and ClayTools. These programs use a haptic interface device that allows jewelers to feel resistance while working on screen—thus making the experience closer to carving real clay. Harry Hamill, a designer in Colorado Springs, Colo., who also uses Matrix for custom work, has been using FreeForm to create portraits and 3-D organic forms that would have otherwise been impossible to make with traditional CAD software. ­Jewelers who are looking to expand their technology toolbox might consider these programs to set their business apart from the rest of the CAD/CAM crowd. —Steven Adler