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Bead setting in white alloy woes

This letter is to let everyone know what it is like to try and
attempt to bead set .009mm diamonds into 1mm thin gold. I had this
problem last week. First of all the gold was mixed with a high alloy
ratio mixed in 14kt. white gold…It was like setting stones in
H.S.Steel. I even had my jeweller anneal the gold TWICE, all to no
avail. Then second problem was that the gold was only 1mm thick. I
never have any of my gold thinner than 1.50 mm at any point for bead
setting…The beads I tried to push over unto these miniscule stones
was an ‘exercise in futility’. Shall I say I was not at all impressed
with the gold or his lack of knowledge in creating something of value
for his client. His selection of white gold gave me great labour
pains…I should have returned it back to him to sort out the ongoing
series of problems. Moral of this ranting letter…if it appears that
you are having problems with a clients job …RETURN IT…don’t get
married to it…it will only get worse, instead of better…Gerry!


With all due respect, the moral may be: don’t do trade work. I
watched my dad work until 10 to 1or 2 am through my teenage years
while struggling to pay the bills. Talk about exercise in futility! I
now do all of my own work. Casting, setting, small repairs, sizings,
etc. I don’t feel like I’m taking advantage of anybody and I control
every facet of quality (including the alloy, thickness, etc). Sorry
you had so much trouble, I can only imagine. BTW, your book was a
truck load of (a year or two ago) thanks.

Stanley Bright
A&M Jewelers

Stanley Bright many thanks for your letter back to me… I too, used
to spend at least 5-6 hours a night and that was after a full day
working in a jewellery company and another 20 hours over the
weekend…many times I was fiercely reprimanded for not finishing
much of the setting…gladly those days are happily long gone.

I had a trade client only ask me two days ago if I could
Princess-set some CZ’s into silver rings…after I gave him my LOWEST
price…the phone got disconnected…hmmmm! If he calls me back my
phone might get disconnected as well…:slight_smile:

Moral of this; our setting fees are not getting better, but lower.I
have still in my past archives “June 30, 1974” setting fees.
Prong/claw setting.35 cents and solitaires @ $1.00 have not risen
much in the past 38 years…Today, its solitaires at $10.00 The most I
can get today is only $ 4 - 5.00 for the most basic "Bright-Cut"

Just where is the incentive to do any trade work? My new lines of
jewellery that I am putting together are involving many setting
needs. My revised today’s setting fees, I think are reflecting a true
value of my skill and training. Even my teaching/training fees are
getting better in certain schools around here…An out-of-town school
is offering me anywhere between $60-75.00 per hour…compared with
another Toronto school is still only offering only $32.00/hr…maybe?

You all gotta read this…A trade shop I worked at two years ago gave
me some CZ’s to set into some silver brooches…each stone was at .15
each! He said he could get them set in India faster, and still
cheaper…and what about setting tapered baguette diamonds at .12
cents each
, again including polishing and Rhodium plating…

My dear friends, its far better if we do all the manufacturing work
ourselves and we can then enjoy the PROPER setting rates we so
richly deserve. My new “rule of thumb” is to charge yourself the
highest possible setting fee you can muster around your town, and
then “triple-keystone”, or 3 times more…How do you do this?

Read this further, Toronto’s full-bezel setting is “trade-price” at
about $ 7.00 per simple 5x7mm and now its $20.00 PLUS…get my drift?
if its a very large expensive stone, go full tilt at $50-75.00+++ or
even more…silver-set Cabochon is worth $25-45.00 plus your own
profits of ???

The days of doing trade setting for everyone, just to pay a few
decent living expenses is now a thing of the past…note on this, I
am charging myself in my new line of items Bead Setting at about
$30.00 just for one “4-bead” setting process. Why should I give my
skills away just to make a simple sale? Tools and gold have gone way
up, including travelling expenses, but our mfg’ing labour has not
kept up with the story…remember to double up your fees and then
"triple-keystone" at the very end…This way you all will arrive at
the best possible fee on anything you do while at your own designer
benchs. David Geller is totally right about increasing your labour
fees…everyone else is doing it…why not YOU?..Gerry!

Total agreement with Gerry re $ for trade or any work for that

As I see it there are two options… either undercut your own
prices, or charge for your skills, tools, and time and risk losing
the job. The first takes a lot of work to lose money, the second will
pay better but even at worst it doesn’t take any work to break even
at zero.

If I’m going to have to starve to death I’d much prefer as little
manual labour be involved as possible.

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing


I had a trade client only ask me two days ago if I could
Princess-set some CZ's into silver rings..after I gave him my
LOWEST price..the phone got disconnected...hmmmm! If he calls me
back my phone might get disconnected as well..:) 

this reminds me of a story from some time ago. When I first moved to
NC I started doing work for a retail jeweler that now is one of my
best clients. Once a “competitor” of his called him with an emergency
job. His employee/setter was on vacation and he had a sale that had
to be done. My customer graciously gave his competitor my
When I told the jeweler how much I would charge to
change the head and set the stone the guy hung up on me.

Later he called back claiming that we got “cut off” and that he
would “let” me do it as long as I delivered it to him when I was
done. As soon as I got off the phone with this guy I called my
original client to vent. He just laughed and told me that the guy
must of hung up on me and called him to ask him if I was for real. My
client stood up for me and convinced the guy to give me a try.

I finished the job and delivered it. He paid me, noting that I
wasn’t going to make it around here if I kept charging the prices I
do and basically said if I ever lowered my prices he’d be happy to
send me some work. I looked in his showcases and asked him to pull
out a ring that even at a distance of several feet I could tell was a
sloppy job. He said this was a job his setter had done for him. I
asked him to compare my work to this job he considered ready to sell.

The ring he pulled out of the showcase was a die-struck 6 prong
solitaire. It had firescale between the prongs where they attached to
the shank that the rhodium couldn’t cover, the sides of the prongs
were still rough from the die-striking, the surfaces between the
prongs weren’t polished beyond the factory finish and there were fins
left on the prongs from where the bur cut the seat. His only
statement when I pointed these differences out to him was that none
of his customers would ever notice the difference in quality, but
that they would definitely notice the difference in price.

He was out of business a couple of years later. Sometimes there is
justice in our lifetime.


If I'm going to have to starve to death I'd much prefer as little
manual labour be involved as possible. 

Words to live by!

I very seldom laugh out loud when I’m sitting at the computer
reading emails (or even cartoons and the like) but this did it.