3Design CAD

3 stone triple cluster ring made using 3Design CAD

3Design CAD (pronounced Three Design) runs on Mac as well as PC. It offers a very different approach to  modelling, involving working with solids rather than surfaces, deforming existing shapes, and combining them with a host of jewellery-specific commands such as pave and shank builders.

3Design CAD’s Advantages and Weaknesses

3Design is a fully parametric CAD modelling program. That means you don’t store models as geometry, but rather as steps in a process. If you go back and change an earlier step, all later steps will be affected. While most CAD programs now have some limited parametric capability (often called History), the fact 3Design is designed entirely around parametric modelling makes it ideal for any workflow where the designer has to rework the design over and over again, such as size ranges or collections based on the same motif.

In practice, it also means you’re building objects based upon each other rather than just placing geometry in space. This can make creating complex mechanisms and assemblies a bit tricker conceptually than they might be in programs without full parametrics.

There’s more to it than just that. Contact me to discuss the advantages of 3Design relative to other jewellery CAD programs, and whether 3Design is the best jewellery CAD software package for you.

To Learn More About Jewellery CAD/CAM

If this whets your appetite for learning more about how to use 3Design software for your CAD/CAM jewellery design and manufacturing, I can provide you with three options:

  1. I offer a short courses in 3Design CAD for beginner and intermediate users, focusing on using the program’s parametric functionality to help streamline the design and editing process for CAD jewellery design. Go to our Courses and Events page to find out about upcoming courses.
  2. I offer bespoke training. Contact me directly to find out more about upcoming short courses or bespoke private tuition to suit your business needs and timetables.
  3. You’ll find below a series of tutorial videos I’ve collected which can both help you get a feeling for what the software is like to use, and also how to perform certain key tasks in the software.

Sierra Consultancy LogoAlternatively, if you want to know more about price for the software or other resources, I would recommend contacting Sierra Consultancy, the UK distributor of 3Design jewellery CAD software.

3Design in Action

Selected Tutorial Videos – 3Design CAD

Tutorial Videos of My Creation

Tutorial Videos From Other Users

27 Comments 3Design CAD – Jewellery CAD Software Overviews and Tutorials

    1. Dear Prabu:

      3Design themselves will be able to give you the most up-to-date prices for the software in your area and currency. I cannot possibly hope to keep an up-to-date list on what they do with the prices, partially because they keep changing, and also because I’m not aware of all the arrangements each software company makes with organisations or individuals. Even Adobe makes discounts for bulk purchases or educational institutions.
      If there are more details you wish to see than are in this article, the best place to go is to their websites directly. There is a link here for the software vendor, but you can also find more information at my article on the various software packages and their respective strengths..

      I hope that helps.



    1. Dear Nidhi.

      All the links on this page have been updated to take you to the right place to ask about bespoke training.

      Alternatively, simply contact me directly through the contact page.



  1. I\’ve been working with the 3Design software for 5 years now and by no means am an expertise in this field having had no previous experience. I should point out my own discovery about the parametric tree aspect of this software versus Rhino based programs, that being; it adds a creative ability during the design process that allows more options in approach and strategy that transcends simply going back and reworking a model. That is a mouthful that may not make any sense looking from the outside…..the Matrix people will tell you that their program can achieve everything that 3Design can but with more or different steps involved but the aspect I\’m talking about here is more of a creative manipulation of this feature that is difficult to describe but yet does offer this added creative ability which appears to be a real quantifiable advantage in some respects to Rhino based software. In fewer words….with Rhino, you simply can\’t get there from here. Just saying.

    1. Hi Kelly.

      Well put. I agree. The parametric history tree is second to none when it comes to having to rework an existing model. The only problem I find with it is that it tends to enforce a certain building process, and straying too far from that standard building method can result in issues with the parametrics. Fortunately, that doesn’t come up that often, especially once you get used to 3Design’s workflow.


      1. Hi Jack,
        Most definitely true. I ran into this problem early on especially coming from the artistic/creative end of the spectrum. I quickly found out the hard way after crashing my computer with huge files that couldn’t be exported. The freedom to change your mind at will and make corresponding changes to your designs can quickly get out of control! The easy fix is to learn the programs limitations and to simplify/reduce the number of operations, learning more advanced features and becoming familiar with a few of the programs quirky do’s and don’ts.

        1. Hi Kelly:

          Well spotted, and absolutely right. As it happens though, the fact parametric history modelling forces users into a standard modelling process is precisely the reason why many designers were driven away from it, and why some developers have switched to Direct 3D modelling instead (the ability to dynamically re-edit surface edges and topology without using a history). But even that hasn’t been enough of a revolution to get people to give up completely on more classical grid based modelling techniques. At best, direct 3D techniques have been rolled into many mainstream NURBS modellers such as Rhino and Matrix to compliment the limited history functionality.

          To put it another way: it seems to me if older technologies don’t disappear after the adoption of newer technologies, then I take it as a sign that there must be a place in the market for both.


    1. Hi Divya:

      I’m happy to help if I can. The best way to reach me is through my contact form.



  2. Can anyone tell me how much 3DESIGN software cost? It looks like its a big secret as I can’t find its value anywhere.

    1. Hi David:

      It really isn’t a big secret. Just like with every other major CAD software package, they want you to contact them directly to get the price. It gives the salespeople a reason to talk to you and sell you on the benefits, and it helps them mitigate potential sticker shock on the price.

      Also, prices change over time for all the big software companies, and at this level of expenditure negotiations over price and add-ons are common, especially for multiple license purchases for large CAD departments.

      I’ve just confirmed with the 3Design sales reps in the UK that the cost is £4190 + VAT for the full version. Compared to Matrix (£4995 + VAT), it’s pretty close to the average going rate for specialist fine jewellery CAD software.



    2. 3Design-Cad costs about 6.000€.
      As a teacher for 3Design do I have the best feedback of the students who both first the student version and later a complete working version.


      Johan Van Synghel

  3. Johan, I’ve been teaching 3Design in London for 9 years, and I didn’t think they offered a student version. I know Revere Academy in San Francisco has a special temporary agreement for a 3 month license, but no one else to my knowledge can get that. I also know they offer a Design version with no .stl export. Is that what you mean?


  4. This will be my first time design jewelry 2d, 3d cad. I want to design different jewelry company’s and want to know what be right class for me and is the. I do online class and how much the class would cost.

    1. Hi Maxine:

      May I ask where you’re located?

      If you’re in or near the UK, then I can help you. Otherwise, I can send you some suggestions for other areas nearby where you are.



    1. Hi Maxine:

      Here is a link with contact info for the US sales rep team for 3Design. I’ve spoken with them a few times on e-mail but never met in person.


      If you do talk to them, tell them Jack from CAD Jewellery Skills sends his regards.

  5. Jack,
    Sorry I didn\’t respond to this earlier…
    In North America, the Revere Academy and the New York Jewelry Design Institute teach 3DESIGN and both can supply a 3 month practice license (nominal fee involved). In addition the Jewelry Distributor Rio Grande holds 4 classes per year and provides a 1 month practice license(gratis).
    There is a \”no stl export\” version available at reduced cost (in NA).

  6. Hi
    Do you have online tutorials for rhino cad . I stay in india. I have been designing jewellery and manufacturing . Now I feel the need to learn 3D designs. where exactly you are in london so that I can meet you whenever I am there. please guide

  7. Hello

    I live in London, are you able to recommend a course locally for 3Design?

    Thank you

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