A jewel CD case is the original compact disc case that has been used since the compact disc was first released in 1982. It is a three-piece plastic case, measuring 142 mm × 125 mm × 10 mm (5.59 in x 4.92 in x 0.39 in), a volume of 177.5 cm³, which usually contains a compact disc along with the liner notes and a back card. Two opposing transparent halves are hinged together to form the casing, the back half holding a media tray that grips the disc by its hole. All three parts are made of injection-molded polystyrene.
Double albums can either be packaged in standard-thickness jewel cases with hinged media trays (which can be lifted up to reveal the second disc) or in a "double jewel case", sometimes called a multi-CD jewel case, which is slightly larger than two normal jewel cases stacked on top of each other, and can hold 4 or even 6 CDs. Double jewel cases do not fit in some CD racks; however, some racks have a few extra wide slots specifically to accommodate them.
The intended successor to the original jewel case, which is now gaining ground, is the "Super Jewel Box", a more advanced design which offers (amongst other improvements) a greatly strengthened hinge area. Unfortunately, the super jewel box cannot be used as a direct replacement for the older jewel case design as its card insert for the back is slightly different in size. However in many other ways it is an attractive concept and some CD manufacturers (for example the high-end company Linn) are supplying them. The depth of the disc tray is also greater, allowing for two discs to be placed on top of each other. The super jewel box was developed by Philips and other CD-format developers, originally in a larger format as a DVD case, and then in smaller formats as CD cases.
In the standard CD height, the super jewel box is the conventional case for Super Audio CD (SACD); a taller form, midway between CD and DVD-Video size, is the conventional case for DVD-Audio, and as of mid-2006, the case format for all albums released by the Universal Music Group in Europe.
Many alternatives to the standard jewel case may also be found, including the popular Digipak, WowWallet and Jakebox, and larger DVD-style cases with a more book-like shape. It is not uncommon to find CDs housed in custom cases, tins and boxes of varying shapes and sizes. Slipcases and other envelope-type designs are also used.
Some DualDiscs are packaged in jewel cases of a somewhat different design from the CD version; the inside edge is rounded instead of flat, and the physical position of the disc is moved slightly toward the spine to make room for a latch mechanism. The overall dimensions of a DualDisc case are roughly the same as a standard CD case. However, the hinge mechanism is smaller and cannot be dismantled as easily as on a standard jewel case.
Slimline jewel case.
A "black side" Slim Case
Slimline jewel cases first gained popularity as cases for CD singles sold in Japan and Europe, and have become a common space-saving packaging for burned CD-ROMs. The cases used for CD Singles sold in Japan and Europe are 7mm thick, with a "J-card" type inlay, showing cover art through the front of the case, and also through both the spine and part of the back of the case. The CD itself is usually inserted "upside-down" in the case, so that the artwork on the disc itself shows through the transparent back of the case. While these reduce the amount of space required in a free-form storage container, they still fit only one to a slot in a standard CD rack.
Most slim jewel cases sold for burned CD-ROM use the measure 142 mm × 125 mm × 5 mm (5.59 in x 4.92 in x 0.2 in), which is roughly half the thickness of a standard CD jewel case, allowing twice as many CDs to be stored in the same space, and will generally fit two to a slot in a standard CD rack. They generally do not have room for a full package insert booklet, only a slip of paper for a track listing or cover art, showing only through the front of the case. Unlike the standard jewel cases, slimline cases are made of two pieces rather than three and do not have a place for a back label.