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Diamond Setting?


Dear All

Bright-cutting is one of the most difficult departments of setting.
Now they have power-machine gravers that can do everything. But I
still think we setters and you, must still need to know how its done.
I heard this morning in my travels to downtown Toronto that there is
a machine that can set 90 stones a minute.With this all of the stones
are of the same level and depth. Non-stop working, and no time off
for holidays, lunch or coffee-breaks. One arm digitally scans the
object to be set, another arm drills the hole, another arm picks up
that stone, another of a total of 8 arms places it in the metal,
another arm raises the beads,all done with out a person to touch any
of those 8 mini-robotic arms…scary thought,eh? In 15+ years we
might be a thing of the past, or just a relic of labours that need to
be replaced! In 1945 the flex-shaft was a new invention and no longer
using the much now antiquated hole piercing “hand-pump”…



Yes, and I’ll make a ton of money tightening and replacing diamonds
that fall out because a machine doesn’t have the “feel” for stone
setting! I’m doing it all day long now! I say BRING IT ON! Steve
Cowan, Arista Designs

there is a machine that can set 90 stones a minute.With this all of
the stones are of the same level and depth. Non-stop working, and
no time off for holidays, lunch or coffee-breaks. 

Man versus machine!

I have a question. Why do we hold Olympic Games every 4 years? What
is the point of been the fastest runner in the World, if even a
mediocre automobile can do it faster?

The answer is - it is not about what machine can do, it is about
what man can do. That is why regardless of any technological
developments, the old school jewellery - meticulously crafted one
piece at a time, will always be preferred over mechanically produced

Leonid Surpin

In 15+ years we might be a thing of the past, or just a relic of
labours that need to be replaced! 

Sub-quality workmanship should be replaced by machines. Only the very
best automobiles are still assembled by hand…


If there’s anything I learned from watching the Jetsons, it’s that
they’ll always have to have someone there to push the button.

Now where is my stilt house and flying car, darn it?


Steve Cowan

Those words were exactly WHAT I said when I heard of this startling
advancement in our setting trade. The “feel” of the graver against
gold, is still so darned important and so very necessary.

We won’t be “put out to pasture” just yet and not in the foreseeable
future anyway! Certain improvements will still be made, on-sight
observations while setting is still the cardinal rule! What happens
if the pavilions are slightly greater from the other? How about the
girdle thicknesses, the list of potential problems are endless!

Nothing will replace ‘us’, no setting job will ever be repetitious.
Genuine stones cannot be hand cut exactly as the proceeding stone,
there will always be differences. I had a channel-set, tapered link
tennis bracelet with genuine emeralds baguettes.

Each stone was different form the other. None of the 78 stones were
properly guaged or measured. Now tell me, will these so-called
advanced machine or gadgets make the decision to figure out which
stone should go in where in those 18 tapered-links? They have no feel
for the texture of the gold while setting those ever so soft

So much has to depend on the eye at that time. Machines are good,
but not the in the case of constant decision making human-setter. I
rest my case…:)…



Bah. No worries here. I can do with two arms what that machines needs
eight for. I have two 3-D optic scanners that situated directly in
front of a highly complex CPU unit which has extraordinary powers of
analyses. Not only can I set the stones straight… I can also
descern quality and remove undesireable items while aborbing news of
the world on the radio making me always aware of imminent dangers and
leaving me with the facility of putting everything in the safe before
aliens invade. True… I need occasional refueling and rest… but is
that any different from daily maintenance problems? Long live the
Ludites I say… and let the machines be damned!

Benjamin Mark


There will always be people who want to buy jewelry that has been
made by the hand of a real live person. That is part of the pleasure
of owning something beautiful - to know that a person made it and to
wonder at that very fact at the same time. Have no fear – people are
not going out of style.


How do you feed a machine setting 90 stones per minute…5,400
stones per hour…129,600 stones per 24hr day no sleep?

Easy…just build up a huge organization, employ other factories or
take them over, hire many designers, technicians, machine operators
and a quality control wing if possible, and all the CEO’s to make it
happen. Then take all the money already spent and double it for the

Very interesting, it’s a marvel and I watch with interest and
wonder. But sorry, not my cup of tea!


Long live the Ludites I say... and let the machines be damned! 

I am far from being a ludite. Let the power fail and I am groping in
the dark for a flashlight to escape the dungeon.

I know what my machines can do, if I want something to LOOK dead
accurate I hand finish. No way am I going near a machine which can
set that many stones per min in my hand. Maybe the squid version with
10 arms ???

Too much experience with dumb machines to trust them too far.

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing


Not mine either Alastair. I see myself descended from people of the
ages. I might use use materials, try new methods - that’s growth. I
might use power tools. But I won’t computerize unless I am making dog



I’m not directing this at anybody in particular, but let’s pause and
take stock for a moment. It’s a frequent POV here on Orchid in
various ways, but there is, in fact, a jewelry industry in the world
Many either forget that or perhaps never really understood it. There
was a time when I worked in a shop that put out around 2,000 diamond
rings a week - fine quality, industry standard stuff, not junk.
500-1000 half carat diamonds, stuff like that. And we were good
sized, but puny in comparison to some. There is often something here
like, “I’m just gonna sit at my bench and make a ring a week.”,
which is fine for you, whoever you may be, but it’s not the way of
the world by any means. There are machines punching out wedding bands
of all kinds, CNC is churning out product every day, presses are
pressing and machine setting has been a reality for around a decade
that I know of, though it was only channel setting for a time.
Saying things like, “Oh, but that’s just crap jewelry” is simple
snobbery. It’s jewelry, it’s business, it’s product and the world
wants it and buys it. You can sneer at it or you can have a career in
jewelry, that’s up to you. Most of the machine-set jewelry is
commodity pieces that have little or no artfullness about them.
Channel eternity rings have long been machine set and a fine job it
is, too. I can find no better example than Stuller #68368. It’s an
eternity ring with three rows of half-pointers all the way around.
156 diamonds… My cost today is $625.49 for a gold ring, 3/4
ct. of SI goods and setting 156 stones. You better believe I’m going
to buy it because I’m a businessman, not an idealist. At $4/stone it
would cost $624 just to set it and I see no point or reason in doing
that. Whether it’s machine set (they don’t say) or farmed out to a 12
year old in Timbuktu I don’t know, and I don’t really care as long as
the stones are straight and don’t fall out. There’s a time and a
place for art, high design and care and craftsmanship. When somebo=
dy wants an off-the-rack piece that you can buy for $500 and sell for
$1000 in a few minutes - well, that’s neither the time nor the place.
If one can’t understand the business of jewelry then they shall
surely fail at it. That one sale, above, pays my rent for the


You don’t seem to get it. It’s QUALITY over QUANTITY or sale price.
If you customer buys this super deal that’s kicked out by a machine
and 3 weeks later comes in because they have a stone missing, who is
going to be happier? You because you made a great sale for profit or
your customer who is pissed and doesn’t trust YOUR QUALITY? To the
average customer, they don’t have a clue what machine setting is or
the difference in quality. Most of them think that it was built
right there in your store! They are looking for something that looks
great and is a fair price. But it is up to YOU the seller to insure
that the QUALITY is top notch and your customer is SATISFIED! Believe
me, I have retail clients that tell me horror stories about unhappy
customers, and WORD SPREADS QUICKLY! If that 12 year old stone
setter has good quality in his craft, I will trust him over a machine
any day! Like I said before, Bring it on because it’s guys like me
that repair these machine set rings EVERYDAY! Trust me.

Steve Cowan
Arista Designs

It's jewelry, it's business, it's product and the world wants it
and buys it. You can sneer at it or you can have a career in
jewelry, that's up to you. 

Let’s take a look what is hiding behind the word “career”, and do you
really want it.

I have worked 2 sides of the street so speak, production that John
is so in love with, and the high end. If the only path, which is open
to you is production, do yourself a favor and find something else to
do. Many hours can be spent on stories from production side of
business, but it is far to depressing.

Some may call it snobbery, but I am staying away from that world as
far as I can, and advise you to do the same. Goldsmithing is an Art.
If you can find a niche, where you can practice this art as a human
being by all means do it, otherwise anything else would be better.

Leonid Surpin


You’re right. To change arts, painters cannot afford to sneer at the
painters who turn out 9x10’s unframed in a tourist town. They sell
because they are pretty, they are less expensive than the big
canvases and they fit in a suitcase. Sneer away but the painter who
is turning those out is paying his/her rent and feeding his/her
family. When the bills are paid, he or she can turn to his\her
passions. There is business in art or art will not exist. (Had to be