How Long Does It Take To Learn CAD/CAM For Jewelry Design?

Leo Watts

Guides, Software

How Long Does It Take To Learn CAD CAM For Jewelry Design

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Generally, you can go from beginner to intermediate level in jewelry design and CAD/CAM within a few months. It’ll only take a day or two to learn the complete basics, just complete a beginner jewelry CAD/CAM course in a few hours. But, a full online diploma will take around 6 months.

But, it’s not all that simple. We’ll explain the nuances and other factors to consider throughout this article.

For example, different schools offer different length courses, and teach different CAD/CAM software: perhaps Rhinoceros, or Fusion 360. Your progression also depends how long you spend each day learning jewelry CAD CAM design software.

This guide will show you how long it takes to go from a rookie to a professional designer. We’ll look at different software, online vs offline teaching methods, resources, and more.

How Long Does it Take to Learn CAD/CAM as a Beginner?

Becoming a proficient beginner CAD/CAM jewelry designer can take a day or two. However, it depends on how you define ‘beginner.’ 

Although it is not essential, a math or engineering background helps with learning CAD/CAM. It also helps to be tech-savvy and have experience using building software.

However, many professional jewelers haven’t had this experience and were simply able to master CAD/CAM software through practice.

There are several beginner online software packages that provide video tutorials and step-by-step, project-based lessons. One of the best for this is TinkerCAD.

Rhino 3D also offers an online introductory course specifically for jewelry design. This consists of videos, documents, and resources. In total, this course lasts for 13 hours. Again, depending on how much time per day you can dedicate to jewelry CAD, you could complete this course in a matter of days.

At the beginner level, you should master drawing 2D curves and lines, creating halo ring designs, and other simple design techniques.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Intermediate Jewelry Designer?

To become an intermediate CAD jewelry designer, you’ll need 2-3 months of learning and steady practice.

There are several online and in-person programs that’ll take you through intermediate CAD skills. A popular example would be the International Gemological Institute (IGI).

Based in Belgium, IGI offers several online and offline courses that set students up for a career in the jewelry industry. One of the best courses they offer is their jewelry CAD course. Completing this will not only earn you a certificate but also establish you as an intermediate-level CAD jewelry designer.

This course from IGI, like other intermediate jewelry design courses cover the following:

  • How to create surfaces for basic jewels
  • Gold calculation
  • How to edit curves
  • How to shade and render designs
  • Gold and other precious metals weight estimation
  • How to turn 2D into 3D

This in-person course takes 2 months to complete. IGI has 20 international laboratory locations, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto. 

There are also several online courses that cater to teaching intermediate-level CAD jewelry design if these locations are unsuitable. This includes Level 2 for Jewellery Design from Rhino.

Primarily, the CAD software you’ll be using in an intermediate CAD course would be RhinoGold, RhinoJewel, and Matrix.

How Long Does it Take to Become an Expert Jewelry Designer?

To become an advanced-level CAD software and jewelry design expert, you’ll likely need to spend 6 months to half a year refining your skills. 

This refinement period involves mastering the skills you have learned at beginner and intermediate levels. It would also involve experimenting with expert-level jewelry-making software.

Some of the best expert-level CAD design software include:

Both of these platforms are designed for advanced CAD skills and designing complicated jewelry pieces. These advanced software packages allow you to modify jewelry by bending and twisting. You can also use them to experiment with different pavé settings.

Another skill that expert jewelry designers need to become proficient in is 3D printing.

Alongside your studies, you could sign up for an advanced CAD jewelry course for extra training videos and other benefits. For example, the R3 Jewel Academy offers a 60-hour Advanced CAD MATRIX 3D Course.

Factors That Affect How Quickly You Learn CAD/CAM For Jewelry Design

The factors that determine how fast you learn jewelry-making include whether you learn online, whether you take a course, and your software choice. 

Online vs Offline Learning

Online learning is quicker than offline learning only because it covers less ground. If you were to enroll in an offline class, you’d have to do a combination of both online and offline work. 

The way the jewelry industry works now demands that jewelers are proficient in both physical and virtual design.

An offline program would involve mastering a number of physical skills, such as lost wax casting and stone setting.

Lost wax casting is one of the oldest methods of adding unique detail and shape to a piece of jewelry. It involves pouring molten metal into a mold formed using wax. On the other hand, setting stone involves attaching gems and stones to metal.

Offline learning is essential to becoming a professional jeweler. Not only will it allow you to become proficient with physical materials and tools, but you will also become better at designing virtually. 

So, although classroom learning will take longer, it offers more and can help you master CAD/CAM.

The Software You Choose To Learn Jewelry CAD With

You should pick CAD software based on the kind of digital design you want to carry out. 

A quick Google search will likely throw up a whole range of different platforms. Although they can all be used to create beautiful jewelry, they may not offer the specific design tools you’re looking for.

Here are some of the best CAD software available, as well as what each individual platform particularly excels at:


TinkerCAD Software
Source: TinkerCAD

TinkerCAD is essential software for any absolute beginner in computer-aided design. The learning curve is easy with this 3D modeling tool. 

You can create, modify, and combine basic shapes with TinkerCAD. These shapes can be turned into simple jewelry designs.

TinkerCAD only has a limited amount of features. Although this isn’t ideal for more advanced jewelry designing, it doesn’t overwhelm beginners.

Rhino Software (Rhino3D, RhinoGold, RhinoJewel)

Rhino Software
Source: Rhinoceros 3D

Rhinoceros is one of the oldest online CAD tools. It’s still in use today and remains one of the best software for learning. With this computer software, you can create computational designs with complex geometry.

If you’ve already heard of Rhino3D, consider that Rhino has other products specifically for jewel making. Rhino’s jewelry design software include RhinoGold and RhinoJewel. 

You can also design jewelry with Rhino3D, their more generalized software. However, it’s only recommended for those with at least at an intermediate level of CAD understanding. 

There are numerous textual input methods and custom functionalities on this software. Even an experienced virtual designer would struggle with some aspects of Rhinoceros.

Luckily, there are a number of online tutorials to go with Rhinoceros to help users get the basics down.


JewelCAD Software
Source: IndiaMART

JewelCAD brings you the luxury of free-form designing. While parametric design and more generalized CADs are fine for designing rings and bracelets, JewelCAD allows artists to create surfaces with free-form modeling.

Many other generalized software down the list have an engineering approach to jewel making similar to making parts for a machine. However, JewelCAD’s free-form modeling helps the art side of jewel making. 

Fusion 360

Fusion 360 Software
Source: Autodesk Forums

As you progress towards expert-level jewelry creation, you’re going to need to become an expert in 3D printing. Fusion 360 can generate PreForm files, which makes it an ideal platform for 3D printing.

3D printing has become a recent addition to jewelry designers’ tools, and one that has been embraced widely in the industry. 3D printing allows jewelers to

  • Save money on inventory
  • Produce highly complex pieces
  • Save time by eliminating the joining process.


SolidWorks Software

It’s difficult to have a guide detailing the main design software for jewelry without mentioning SolidWorks. SolidWorks is the biggest jeweler software in the world due to its range of geometric design tools.

However, SolidWorks is not a specialized jewelry design software. Despite this, it’s still such a capable 3D CAD design suite that you can also use it for jewelry design. Plus, it can create proper STL files for 3D printing. 

However, SolidWorks is expensive, and some even argue that it’s overpriced. If you also consider that you won’t need 90% of its capabilities in jewelry design, it looks even more overpriced jewelry design software for a small business. (A SolidWorks Standard license will cost about $2700 per year.)

On the plus side, users can quickly learn how to master curvature fillets and boundary surfaces on Solidworks. Overall, the platform is very easy to navigate.

Still, being a generalized 3D manufacturing software, intermediate CAD knowledge is recommended for using Solidworks.


Matrix Software
Source: Evotech Pacific

Like Fusion 360, Matrix is another good online platform for 3D printing. As a specialized jewelry making tool, Matrix is great if you want to work on a jewelry model completely from scratch.

Firestorm CAD

Firestorm CAD Software
Source: CAD Jewellery Skills

Firestorm CAD features one of the biggest libraries of components that you can use in your design. From gemstones to accent stones, there are over 4,000 individual pieces you can add to your own designs. These ready-made designs can help you save time when designing jewelry for a deadline.

Self-Teaching vs Taking a course

This depends entirely on the person. While self-teaching could benefit some, it may leave others lost.

For some, CAD/CAM is a case of trial and error, so practicing daily on their own could be the best means of mastering it. This method best suits those with engineering software experience. It also helps to know how to create 2D drawings and renderings.

For others, CAD/CAM could seem like a complicated area of expertise. In this case, many prefer a professional’s assistance rather than go it alone.

Overall, being self-taught will likely take longer than opting for a course. Online courses are often run by professionals. They are trained to teach you how to use different software in the easiest possible way.

Curriculums are often planned to allow for the most amount of learning in minimal time. With a professional showing you the ropes, you’re far more likely to learn the tools of the trade quicker than you would on your own.

For more, check out our article on the best ways to learn CAD/CAM software.

The Resources You Choose To Learn Jewelry Design

You may feel you can get by without studying any learning materials – and yes, technically it is possible to teach yourself CAD/CAM entirely. Most software packages even come with their own guides.

But, you’ll accelerate your learning if you access some of the premium resources available.

There are even plenty of online resources that you can access for free. The best resources to use to learn jewelry design include the following:

CAD Jewellery Skills

CAD Jewellery Skills offers a number of training resources on CAD specifically aimed at jewelry. The website is basically a large database of design resources. It features blog posts, links to courses and CAD events, and other useful materials.

The CAD Jewelry School

The CAD Jewelry School blog collates all the best and most educational components of the school’s resources. In this blog, you’ll find both tutorial videos and informational guides. For example, one video teaches visitors how to use RhinoGold to create a knife edge band.

FreeCAD Web

FreeCAD Web is a much more general resource, but one that all CAD users will find useful – including jewelers. FreeCAD Web suits those who are learning the free CAD software FreeCAD.

Although FreeCAD is a generalized CAD software, you can design jewels with it too. Like SolidWorks, it employs parametric modeling and is just as complicated. However, if you choose it, you’ll have a free CAD software to design jewels and use its documentation to learn it. 

It’s laid out in a Wiki-inspired format, with a long list of different software links and CAD tips down the left-hand side.

Although this resource is not focused specifically on jewelry, you’ll learn a free CAD software to design jewelry.