I certainly respect and admire your expertise, but your logic
brings up some interesting considerations. In the realm of
appraising it is somewhat curious for me to rationalize the value
of a diamond ring which has been micro-pave'd with, let's say,
200.0025 ct. stones. Would that not be.50 cts and what might be the
value of the stones
If one is designing jewelry with the aim of being able to add up the
parts to equal some desired appraised value, then certainly pave
working with larger stones makes better sense. Micro pave is just
another “color” on the palette, which allows a designer to cover
smaller parts, narrower edges, and the like, with the look of pave.
Well done, it looks very nice, and holds up reasonably well. Done
poorly, well, then it can share the scrap heap with everything else
in our field that might also be poorly made. As to the value of the
stones, well, with our current supplier, we’re paying about 500/ct
for nice melee. It’s G/H, VS clarity, full cut (ideal cut in fact).
Nice stones to work with. Same price regardless of whether it’s
quarter pointers (the smallest we buy) or two pointers. Not sure
about when it gets larger than that. The stones are simply worth what
they’re worth, and the labor is worth what it’s worth, a fair per
stone setting fee. The stones may be worth less per stone, being
tiny, but then there are more of them, so labor costs go up. This
simply gets taken into account in pricing, like any other cost of
labor or materials. The choices of how much to set, and what sizes,
are made as design choices, not economic ones. The economics are
worked out after the design is worked out, and simply checked to be
sure the end price is something we’ll be able to sell. And keep in
mind that many of these pieces, at least the ones we seem to do or
work on, tend to be mountings that also will hold a major diamond
too. When you’ve got a platinum pave mounting that’s holding a two
and a half carat fine diamond, the issues of what the melee in the
mounting are worth become trivial. What matters is that the design
looks good. Achieve that, and no customer is going to worry about
the total weight of the melee.
Are microscopic full cuts worth a great deal more than ordinary
A great deal? No, I don’t think so. These things are cut by
computers now, and I don’t think there’s all that much difference in
cutting labor or costs to tell the machine to do a full cut rather
than a single cut. As I said, what we’re buying now are actually
ideal cuts. Very uniform. Frankly, it blows me away. They’re very
nice stones. And as I said, cost us about 500 a carat. Now, you can
buy decent single cut one pointers for less than that. Feel free, if
you prefer them. But we’re rather enamored of these full cut melee. I
know, the conventional wisdom we all learned is that below a certain
size, full cuts look fuzzy and the extra faceting is a waste of time.
Maybe that’s partially true, or maybe that’s hearkening back to when
the melee was all cut by hand. I dont know. I rather like the look of
the full cuts. And remember that a quarter pointer SOUNDS very tiny,
but it’s not a quarter of the physical size of a one pointer. Ours
are running about.8mm or so, last I checked.
Certainly, in this scenario, the value of the labor would be
greater inasmuch as the cost of the necessary equipment has to be
The equipment to make the stuff isn’t much more than it’s ever been.
Small stones need small drills, small burs to cut seats, and small
beads raised. That translates to faster setting times, once you get
used to it. Not all setters use fancy microscopes. The fellow sitting
next to me, our diamond setter, uses no magnification at all. Just
his eyes. A loupe is used to check when needed, but the bulk of his
work is just done the old way. Good light, sharp gravers, etc. You
can check our web site (www.sholdtdesign.com) for many examples of
his work. Most of the pave diamond setting you’ll see in our pieces
are his work. He’s one of the highest paid workmen in our shop, and
earns it. But diamond setters have always been at the top of the pay
scales in this business, so this is nothing new. The other fancy
equipment I mentioned, laser welders, etc, are for repair as well as
manufacturing. And you DON"T have to raise prices to absorb great
costs with this technology. It pays for itself pretty fast, just in
time saved, pieces saved, and greater quality that can be achieved.
Sure, the machines cost money. But consider: You can lease or finance
a new laser welder for under 700 a month. maybe much under, I don’t
know. Anyway, that works out to about 35 dollars a day. With what an
hour is worth these days (at the retail level at least) All you’ve
got to do is save a half hour or more per day in working time on one
or more pieces, and you’re paying for the tool. Anything beyond
that, is added profit, not added cost Trust me, it’s not hard to do
that at all. Usually well before the first cup of coffee is finished
in the morning…, at least in our shop.
On the other hand, I doubt very much that a scrap buyer would allow
anything at all for the stones. Maybe you could enlighten us about
these new economics........
Well, we’re a manufacturer. We don’t sell to scrap buyers, and I
don’t really think retail buyers of jewelry buy things with an eye to
what they’ll get for scrap in any case. Besides, scrap buyers
traditionally have not given all that much for old jewelry in any
case. Half of what the materials are estimated to cost is typical. At
that point, the value of a piece set with two pointers isn’t
significantly more, not compared to the original retail price paid.
As a manufacturer, the main issues with scrap is to efficiently
reuse it, and in the case of diamond jewelry, that means recovering
the diamonds and refining the metal, or directly reusing it if it’s
known clean metal. So yes, it’s more of a pain in the rear to remove
two hundred quarter pointers than it is to remove 30 three pointers.
As it happens, I spent last friday getting a bunch of old dead
inventory taken apart. In a day’s work, I disassembled some 40 rings
and several bracelets, containing something like 12 or 15 carats of
melee in various sizes. I can’t say it was fun, but it goes quickly
enough once you get the tricks figured out. And the main reason I did
it in shop was we were real slow last week, and I needed the work. We
could also have had our refiner remove them for us via acid refining.
he’d then return not just the gold and platinum, but the diamonds,
at little extra cost.