Back in October, for the first time in my jewelry career, I took a
week off of work to attend Blaine Lewis’ advanced setting class. I
should mention that I have been originally working part time while
attending school, and then finally full time at my father’s jewelry
business started in 1939. He was a master watch maker, attending to
jewelry repair as a necessary evil. I learned jewelry work at his
side, and then advanced my studies with books and video tapes, an
occaisional help from a passing jeweler or setter who wandered into
When I read the groups reviews about Blaine Lewis’ tapes on setting,
I scoffed at the ‘highest priced tapes’ in the market. I e mailed
Blaine, and asked him why I should invest $180 or so bucks for a two
tape video set. His response was, ’ you just have to see the tape
to understand’. i bought the tapes, and was so impressed, I decided
I must attend the class.
I have been setting prong work for many years, occaisional bead work
for repairs, fancy cut stones as necessary reading up before hand
and then sweating all the way. I felt I could handle the advanced
Blaine’s school is in Virginia Beach, Va, located in in office
building. His school is fully equipped with about 15 benches, and
one main bench where he demonstrates the work to be done. The
demonstrations are done on a TV screen, where he works kind of
sideways for the camera angle. Remarkable. He mentions that he was
a ‘mirror’ welder in the armed forces, so he has no problem doing
things backwards or sideways.
Blaine is a fantastic guy. He put me at ease immediately. He told
the class of eight students that broken stones will be a thing of
the past. I think we all laughed, but by the end of the week, I
could see that if I did setting work consistantly, broken stones
would really be a thing of the past. His innovative techniques are
incredible. He has redefined tradtional techniques of pave,
burnishing, fancy cut stone mounting etc.
We worked on brass mountings with cz’s, he would first demonstrate
the technique we would use from a to z, and then we would attempt
the task. He is incredibly funny and witty, and kept up banter
throughout the day. At all times he was available for questions and
demonstrations for individual problems. I certainly had many.
Sharpening gravers had always been a sore point for me, and really
getting angles down for graver points for stone setting was
troubling. Blaine was always there for everyone; for many, it was
the first time they had ever picked up a graver.
Many types of channel setting were covered, and incredibly we were
setting and gents mounting for five princess cut stones in a blind
setting, ,most of us having never attempted anything like that
We were exposed to the GRS system Gravermax tools, and once you have
tried that, you never want to go back to hand work. ( Blaine is a
GRS dealer, but really does not try to sell you.)
I should mention that it is probably best to have a firm foundation
in beginning stone setting, being aware of the different tools, burr
names and the like. I knew many things, but was continuously taking
notes of which I found invaluable later on.
I should have written earlier to the group, but I wanted to see how
I felt so many months later after taking the class.
Let me tell you, it was worth it.