There, you all owe me $100/each. That's what you'll get in a
school except you'll get some actual practice and coaching. But it
still won't make you a diamond setter in any real way.
Reading through this thread it is obvious that many of the more
experienced contributors cannot remember what is was like getting
started. I attended a school. Among my classmates were students with
a vast background working with tools, and also people that had never
used anything more than a hammer to hang pictures. Those of us with
a background using tools skated through much of the program. But many
of the students did not know how to even hold a saw, for instance.
Square one for them. To those without this experience, the ‘actual
practice and coaching’ was invaluable, and it is the entire reason to
attend a hands-on school.
In addition, newbies in the jewelry trade do not know what they do
not know. “So, that was prong setting a round diamond. There are also
ovals, princess cuts, marquise and other fancy shapes. Each one
requires a different technique. And then there are stones much more
difficult to set than diamonds, and setting techniques more
difficult than prong setting.” Etc. Schooling will at least let you
know what you DON’T know before you hit the pavement.
Get a job - it probably won't pay much at first but it will pay
instead of YOU paying for basic skills.
This advice is absolute whimsy in many parts of the country. Again,
those with their own store or already employed might not realize
what the market is like. Where exactly is the owner or manager who is
willing to take in a neophyte with no skills and teach them
everything they need to know to become a competent benchie? During a
recent bout of unemployment, I was shocked to discover the
expectations of the hiring managers or owners. They wanted
EVERYTHING: from casting, to setting everything including micro-pave
and bead-and-bright, to CAD, to hand carved waxes, and to every other
possible skill they’d ever heard of including hand engraving (!).
They wanted everything done FAST. They wanted it PERFECT. They wanted
all this in one person, and most didn’t want to pay ANYTHING. Many of
them job out their repairs. Cheaper. Many of them job out setting.
Cheaper. Some places (and I mean major stores) showed me a dirty
little back room with a bench and nothing else. It was expected that
I would furnish the rest of the set-up on my own nickel, yeah,
including the polisher, and then be happy to work piece-meal at the
cheapest possible rates with no benefits. Because they are already
jobbing everything out to a family of immigrants working long hours
for peanuts. Yup, your competition.
So that’s my reality. It’s recent and it’s factual. A very tough job
market for the benchie. Ugly and not getting better that I can see.
If you have a complete skill set (more than my 10 years gives me) it
looks better, probably much better. But by then you are working for
yourself and this discussion is moot.
To the O.P. - if I haven’t put you off, search ‘redwing mn jewelry
school’ - dubdubdub southeastmn edu - jewelry manufacturing and
repair. Probably as reasonable as you will find. It’s public and not