David Nytch, proprietor of West & Co. an independently owned jewelry store in Webster, NY is changing the way customers see his business. Nytch had observed that independently owned stores are often regarded by consumers as service centers and sources for education, purchasing their jewelry from a bigger, more familiar name.
Adding Gemvision CAD/CAM technology to his armamentarium has enabled him to build his own brand of quality, original jewelry, positioning his business as a destination for custom design as well as a source for expert craftsmanship and consumer education.
West & Co. is housed in a 3,500 square foot facility where you will find a large showroom stocked with an impressive inventory of traditional jewelry and original designs. Nytch, an AGS Certified Gemologist Appraiser has set up a private gemological and appraisal niche adjacent to the showroom.
The building also houses two jewelry manufacturing shops, a jewelry design and business office, and a room dedicated to the store’s Gemvision Revo540 Mill. Another client-friendly feature is a lounge where customers can relax and privately discuss the jewelry or designs they are considering—away from the sales staff and other customers in the showroom.
Nytch became interested in design and metalsmithing during a summer program at the Rhode Island School of Design while he was in high school. He went on to earn his BFA at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).
With industry experience under his belt, he and a business partner began a contract manufacturing company in 1982. Wanting a new direction, he sold his interest in the manufacturing company to his partner in 1991 and began West & Co. Here’s an overview of how Nytch is creating his brand and identity.
David Nytch completed the designs for the emerald ring he’s showing this customer using Matrix, Gemvision’s 3-dimensional software. These personally designed pieces are bound in a professional portfolio cover with the store’s name on the front and the complete contact information on the back. Nytch prefers to show 2 to 5 rendered views of each design — a task simplified by using Matrix software and a color printer. The portfolio also contains the details and an estimate for the proposed piece. Nytch also sends designs out to his customers over the internet in an equally compelling presentation format.
Above his head is one of two large plasma screens that present a complete overview of West & Co in a slide show format. The presentation content is about 7 minutes in length and contains:
Three-Stone Ring with Side Stones
|David West Nytch, a master jeweler and designer, is a veteran in the industry and has been involved with computer aided jewelry design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) for 5 years. To begin this and each design he undertakes, Nytch works with Matrix software by laying out the general shank shape and then adding gemstones from the software library for the job. Nytch’s master level experience at the bench is an asset for laying out the details. For example, he’s familiar with the proportionate dimensions of all the prongs used for each gemstone in various settings to make certain the final piece is secure, functional and beautiful.|
|Earlier in Nytch’s career, he would have hand painted this design with water color. When sold, he would have several hours (if not days) to make this model by hand. After the model was made, he would have made a rubber mold of it, injected a wax, cast and then finished it. The process may have taken up to 30 or 40 hours. By comparison, he completed this design on the computer in 1.5 hours, and the model is ready for CAM preparation.|
|After the ring was designed, renderings of multiple views (like this top view) can be made to show customers. Nytch always includes his store’s logo on each rendering. Renderings take moments to complete and then they are e-mailed and/or inserted into a portfolio to be presented in person.|
|After the sale is made, the next step in the process is to convert the jewelry design file into an STL file that is essentially numeric code that provides the instructions for the mill to cut the wax. The wax is complete in about 4 hours, removed from the mill and made ready for casting, finishing and setting.|
West & Co. has an extensive inventory for customers to select from. If customers can’t find what they have envisioned or would like something made for them, the staff at West & Co. is trained to sell virtual jewelry. Customers may have seen several virtual pieces of jewelry on one of the two flat-panel monitors during their visit, so when the idea of custom made jewelry is brought up, it is not a surprise.
Here Anelisa Zahn shows a customer a West & Co. original from the showcase along with the rendering from a presentation binder. “This gives customers the idea of what they can expect if they decide to have us do some designs for them”, explains Zahn.
To further emphasize the process of custom design and in-store manufacturing, Nytch has created a dedicated free-standing kiosk positioned at the entrance to the store.
This kiosk has a loop playing on the central monitor showing signature designs created by Nytch. All around the monitor are examples of designs, portfolios and images from the complete CAD/CAM process. Sales professional Christine Casey elaborates, “The kiosk provides a complete overview of our jewelry design and manufacturing procedures. Our target market of professionals easily relates to this presentation and appreciates the technology involved to create their dream pieces”.
Nytch has made jewelry for over 25 years, both in contract manufacturing and at the retail manufacturing level. He’s literally seen it all but doesn’t grow tired of the process. He and staff designer-goldsmith Zac Taillie (a graduate of RIT) make all the custom orders and some pieces for the store inventory. “Gemvision’s technology has tied our manufacturing operation together.
Being able to design, show our customers renderings from the software and then have it provide our Revo mill with milling instructions has made the process of making jewelry more pleasurable then ever before. Mistakes are minimal because customers see multiple views of the piece prior to it being made. The technology saves us enormous time and labor. Requirement for master level labor is decreased since the mill precisely carves most details in wax, including bearings in bezels, beads for bead-and-bright-cut setting, engraving detail and other intricate time consuming jobs if done by hand”, states Nytch.
Nytch fondly recalls a custom design job he was given by a customer 12 years ago. “The customer wanted a Lilly of the Valley pin. Back then, I had to go to the library, locate images of the flower and then hand sketch the pin to make the presentation for my customer. When the job was approved, I literally spent hours carving a wax, then casting and finishing.” That was then. Now, with a smile Nytch outlines how he’d go about doing the same project. “I’d do a Google search for the flower. Import an image of it into Matrix and use a feature in the software called Matrix Art to quickly shape the design. In minutes, I can print out several views to show our customer, use the same software to carve the wax and then do the casting and finishing. With multiple view renderings our customers can envision the piece prior to it being made and that feature has saved us loads of reworking to meet our customers’ formerly unspoken expectations. Having the ability to mechanically carve the wax has saved us labor and provided a level of precision not easily obtainable by hand”.
Nytch is proud of his store and the reputation being built with the brand he’s creating. He is pleased with the response by locals and now sees customers coming from a wider area to shop at his store due to the successful creation of his niche. West & Co. also has a successful on-line store and they are currently reducing their in store inventory in favor of a virtual inventory.