There are two basic approaches to creating jewelry; fabrication by hand and machine assisted manufacturing. Machine assistance involves either casting jewelry from a wax model or die striking it from a metal mold. Most machine-made jewelry employs CAD/CAM.
Modeling software CAD (Computer Assisted Design) is used in the design phase and CAM (Computer Assisted Manufacturing) is used in the fabrication
Handmade jewelry must be entirely shaped and formed by hand from the raw materials used. The finishing must also be done by hand labor.
The end product is always different. Computer Aided Design is only as good as the person operating the computer, and that person is rarely a designer or master craftsman. There are limitations as to what a computer can design. It is seldom more than design by cut and paste. It will never replace the eye and the hand of a fine artist/craftsman. Computer-manufacturing will always follow the computers design. This inflexibility often produces a rigid wooden like appearance.
The handmade process allows for the jeweler to adjust the design without restrictions throughout the entire fabrication process. This allows for a more fluid composition. Slight nuances in curvature and shaping give way to a more sumptuous and artistic outcome. A hand polish can be applied at every stage of production making for a more refined finished product.
Cast metals may contain small air bubbles called porosity. This porosity can affect the finish and the durability of jewelry. Hand-forged metal is denser and stronger than cast jewelry. The dense composition of hand-forged metals eliminates porosity making the finished product smooth and faultless. A handmade ring will often NOT feature heavy engraving for this very reason. CAD/CAM jewelry regularly employs heavy engraving to cover up the imperfections associated with porosity.
The CAD/CAM process and can be less expensive. It can be mass- produced over and over again. Handmade jewelry is more labor intensive. Jewelry made by hand by a master jeweler is an individual work of art.