3-D Precious Portraits: Favorite moments in silver and gold, New frontiers in CAD/CAM jewelry making!

December 24th, 2008 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

My daughter Jenny and I have been developing a new product for several months and just finished the first prototype. Our CAD/CAM system with ArtCam software gives us the capability to convert photographs and digital images into three-dimensional renderings on precious metal!  I decided to try making some Christmas presents to test out the technology, using some fun pictures of my friends.

Last summer, my good friend and fishing buddy Dan had a great week visiting my brother at his new lodge near Willow, Alaska, just south of Denali National Park.  On a glorious August day, we floated down Little Willow Creek on CataRafts.  We didn’t catch much at all, but friend Dan did snag this tiny 6-inch grayling – his first ever.  As a joke, I had him hold it out toward the camera so it would look bigger in the picture.  I was amazed how well we were able to capture his big grin.


Some of the technical difficulties we encountered were coping with the shadows across his face.  The detail is excellent – you can even see that the monofilament fishing line along the lower right edge of the picture was captured in the silver.  Jenny chose a great looking font that reminds me of the lettering you used to see on outboard motors, very 50’s!  Overall, I think the silver image is wonderful for a first try – much better than I expected.

For the other side, we used a picture of Dan with a real catch, a monster 45 pound yellowtail he caught while fishing for the first time from a kayak. Here he is, sitting on the beach at Rancho Leonero in Baja California, on his kayak with the big fish in his lap.  Our fishing guide was so impressed with Dan’s catch that he published this photo in Western Outdoor News.


In this picture, we decided to edit out the black pole-holder between his legs and the white spots on the fish.  Ah, the magic of Photoshop!  As we go along, we’re learning which photos are most suitable for this technique. With the combination of high powered software like ArtCam and Photoshop, we think we’ll be able to adapt most photos to the process.


We cast the piece in sterling silver as a key chain fob.  We are experimenting with adding color to the finishing, but so far it looks like the matte finish of the cast silver gives the best rendering of the photo.

I had a lot of fun picking out the photographs and making up the captions, while daughter Jenny did a great job capturing the essence of the moment.  Making the piece was special for me, and I’m sure Dan will love it – we’ll have a great Christmas get together and laugh a lot!

We’ll be offering the service shortly once we figure out a few of the kinks and how to price it.  Besides flat objects like pendants and this fob, we can even place an image onto the top of a signet ring! This particular item, measuring ~ 46 x 36 mm and weighing almost one ounce troy, with images on both sides would retail for $450.  Start looking for your favorite pictures of loved ones, special places, good times–What better memento to celebrate your life!  If you’re interested, give us a call at (951)682-2325 or email customerservice@mardonjewelers.com – we’ll be in touch.

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