This is what I have found. I am not telling you for sure this is what to go with just that this is the route I went. Everyones expectations, needs and budgets are different. I dont want to be the one to tell you what to buy but I hope this helps.
I have been a jewelry designer and model maker for about fifteen years. Primarily by hand. I have used 3-d printers as well. From what I have found no matter what you use it will need hand finishing and detailing in the end. This is something to keep in mind when purchasing. Dont expect to pull a fully finished peice off any machine. Jewelry is far to fine and detailed for those expectations.
I have just recently purchased a system myself for my home shop. So I have just put the research in myself and am in the process of fine tuning, adding accessories, setting up and just learning in general to get the results I want.
Your budget will determine alot. In the reasonal budget range two sytems seem to be prevelent. Sherline and taig which are both well suited to working on the smaller part sizes and softer materials we use in jewelry. I went with the taig as it seemed a more rugged machine for the price. Also, although sherline offers the most comprehensive line of accessories, thier machines do not seem to work as well with other accessory mfgs as easy. Alot of the sherline accessories are easily usable on the taig(some modifications may be needed)
I do prototyping of larger fiurative and gift items as well so the slightly larger size of the taig is welcomed.
So far I have been happy. I have only made a few test pieces after getting everything setup corretly and running right. I am still in the phase of seeing what it can really do. I am waiting for my parts for my fourth axis to arrive and am in the process of learning how to get the machine do do what I want so I cant give you a full assesment on the limits to its capabilities. What I mean at this point is that my experience is the shortcoming and not the machine.
My expectations when I purchased it where that it would take a good portion of the grunt work away from me freeing my time to concentrate the detailing aspects. When I say grunt work I mean the cutting, roughing out, Layout type work. As anyone that has designed and made anything in CAD, certain types of geometry will be far better suited for designing in CAD and some just arent worth the time and it will be easier by hand. The key is knowing where to draw that line.
I bought my mill from Nick Carter at Carter tools. He was very informative, best prices. He uses his personal taig equipment for making jewelry as well. I also just purchased my fourth axis from him.
I bought the software and controller(with motors from another source)
I can tell you exactly what my setup is if you wish. As I said I am merely giving you a diary of the process I have and am going through myself.
I added a couple of links which I found useful in my search.
http://www.tabletopmachinewiki.com/w...Jewelry_Primer -good breakdown for the jewelry person trying to get thier feet wet in CNC
http://www.cuttingedgecnc.com/programs.htm -great source for the CNC newbie