New Approach School for Jewelers

Hi! I am a beginning metalsmith and was considering doing the
Graduate Bench Jeweler program at Blaine Lewis’ New Approach School.
Does anybody out there have a recommendation/criticism/opinion about
the school? It is a lot of money for 12 weeks; is it worth it?


It is a lot of money for 12 weeks; is it worth it? 

YES!!! All the benches are equip with the latest tools. Plus you
have the beach…

Yes!! I took stone setting there, but toured the Bench class. What a
bee hive of activity! I was very impressed with the equipment and
the people. I don’t think you would be sorry. usual disclaimer


Hi Rita

If you speak to graduates to the school you’ll know that Blaine is
an excellent teacher. The powerful part about the 12 week course is
you’ll be able to sit down at a bench when you get back and do just
about ANY job that the store owner puts in front of you.

You’ll also by pass about 3 years of apprentice. And who knows how
good an mentor you’d get if you got one?

This is the best route to go, Blaine is a great teacher and they
have every bell and whistle a jeweler would want.

Besides, you’ll enjoy the Atlantic Ocean.

David Geller

510 Sutters Point
Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 255-9565

Blaine is one of the very best. He darn near taught me how to prong
set just looking at his video and chatting a few minutes. No fluff
just the stuff you must know to be good at your work. He was a smash
hit at Kraftwerks back a year or two. Go if you can!

Daniel Ballard
Kraftwerks Director

Rita, I had the privilege of taking a one week class from Blaine last
year. I’ve been in the bench trade for 29 years. Blaine blew me
away with his innovative techniques and teaching style. The old
saying is true, you get what you pay for. Alan Revere’s school has
a very good reputation. Either the Revere Academy or the New
Approach schools would be good training. I was told that Alan’s
methods are more “traditional” while Blaine’s are a little more
"outside the box". I haven’t gone to the Academy so I can’t judge.
I have a couple videos and books from Mr. Revere. He’s excellent and
a great teacher.

Whatever school you decide on, get a school loan and go. If one
costs more than the other, so be it. A couple years down the road
you will have forgotten about the money, but you will remember the
school and teachers and the impact they had on your life. Spending a
little more now just might be the best investment you will ever make.

Have fun,
James S. Cantrell CMBJ

    You'll also by pass about 3 years of apprentice. And who knows
how good an mentor you'd get if you got one? 

OK David I will bite:

How does he condense the 3 years into 12 weeks.

I am now teaching dentistry at USC and I could use some help. Using
the same approach I could turn out a dentist in 16 weeks!

Is the secret in that the students already have skills and

Charles Friedman DDS
Now in Ventura by the Sea
Formerly from David’s Atlanta
Married to a Gold/Silversmith

Hello Rita, I am a recruiter in the jewelry industry and have placed
Blaine’s graduates of the 12 week course in good paying positions.
Without fail the feedback from those employers has been extremely
positive. You will come out of his course prepared immediately to
work in the industry, and in my opinion be at or above the level of
a three year apprenticeship. If bench work is your passion, I
strongly recommend Blaine’s program.

Vic Davis
Vic Davis & Associates, Inc.
1675 E. Seminole, K-100A
Springfield, MO 65804

Thanks David. I feel incredibly fortunate since I only live 5
minutes from the school! However I don’t think I am as fortunate
since the jewelry job market is so saturated here. Blaine says if I
am good enough I will still probably find decent work but he’s very
honest about the market here?

Thanks for the recommendation!

  How does he condense the 3 years into 12 weeks. I am now teaching
dentistry at USC and I could use some help.  Using the same
approach I could turn out a dentist in 16 weeks! Is the secret in
that the students already have skills and knowledge? 

Most students come into our 8-12 week program with little or no

Our teaching methods utilize high magnification video of live
demonstrations, projected on a 54" monitor. The students see these
demos, from the same vantage point as they would if they were doing
the work themselves. Seeing demos projected this large makes a huge
difference in the learning curve as students immediately have a
greater understanding of how metal moves, hand placement, tool
control, etc… We also use state of the art, 3-D animations, that
are created here at New Approach Video. We use these to make points
that live video demonstration alone can not make. Our stone setting
video is so effective that other schools use it in their programs.

Immediately after each demo students practice the techniques at
their well equipped benches, with our supervision. This helps them
solidify the just given, and grasp the concepts quickly.

I realized, early on in the classroom, that students tend to rise to
the expectations placed upon them. We refer to our program as Boot
Camp for Bench Jewelers. Unlike some other programs, students in our
carefully designed program, utilizing our innovative approaches to
jewelry making processes, repeat many of the techniques until they
can comfortably perform them.

Our instructors are masters, highly effective communicators and
have an incredible passion for teaching.

I’m incredibly grateful for my students, for their enthusiasm and
for the many ways they have helped me improve my programs.

Best Regards,
Blaine Lewis

New Approach School for Jewelers
3500 Va. Beach Blvd, Suite 503
Virginia Beach, VA. 23452
Fax 757-486-1519

 How does he condense the 3 years into 12 weeks? I am now teaching
dentistry at USC and I could use some help. Using the same
approach I could turn out a dentist in 16 weeks! Is the secret in
that the students already have skills and knowledge? 


I read your message and the question about condensed learning.
Certainly having motivated, passionate and experienced students
makes learning easier and quicker. But mostly we are talking about a
change in culture.

Most learning in jewelry traditionally took place in protracted
apprenticeships. These relationships simply do not exist in a formal
way, in the US now. What people call apprenticeships these days
would not really qualify.

A traditional apprenticeship combined 3-7 years of instruction,
practice, chores, practice, theory, practice, demonstrations,
practice, personal service, practice, errands and a lot more
practice thrown in. The arrangement was contractual and legal,
involving the promise of the master to shelter and teach, and the
apprentice to serve and learn. Such an arrangement would not be
legal in the US today.

The position was appropriate for the times and the amount of
material needed to become proficient and self-sufficient.
Apprenticeships lasted up to seven years. Clearly, there is no way
to compress that experience into a few weeks. During the contracted
period, the apprentice also promised not to gamble, stay out late,
associate with certain types of women, fornicate or do anything in
any way to hurt his Master.

Most people nowadays, cannot fit that into their lives. And so today
there are different options for learning our trade: Teach yourself
through books, videos, trial and error Work your way up through bench
jobs Attend academic college jewelry programs for years Attend short
intensive professional jewelry courses, like ours in San Francisco.

At the Revere Academy, we take the important facts and skills of
making jewelry and have compressed instruction by streamlining,
preparation and practice. It is true that we can teach an
apprenticeship’s worth of in a far shorter time.

Streamlining: Each of our classes, which are mostly 3 days long, is
packed with and demonstrations that would take up far,
far longer to cover in an apprenticeship. Our 8 week program covers
all the essentials to work in a wide range of materials and

Preparation: Our studios, benches, handtools, shop equipment,
supplies, materials and kits have been perfected to remove all
obstacles to learning. Our instructors, all working bench jewelers,
have been teaching for years, and fully understand how to transfer
knowledge efficiently through explanation, demonstration and
supervision. Even in the best apprenticeship situation, it is
unlikely that the master will have the time, motivation,
preparation, materials, and patience to teach in a way equal to

Practice: After 25 years, we have it pretty well figured out. We
have taught the material and techniques so much to so many that we
now have jewelry instruction down to a fun, smooth running process
from start to finish. I personally have taught over 10,000
individuals how to make jewelry since 1973.

So the answer is, Yes. I can say that we are able to compress
learning. What we cannot do, is compress practice. In your field,
trial and error are unacceptable, and so practice has to happen
under supervision. In jewelry, it is appropriate for students to
practice on their own. What we give up in our systematic, condensed
approach to teaching jewelry, is the repetitive practice that is
essential to developing good skills. We do not deny its importance,
but we simply do not provide for it either. Most of our students
return to their own benches to practice what we teach them.

By the way, over the years we have attracted many people from other
fields, as they look for something meaningful to do that is
satisfying challenging and also has side benefits. We have had a
slew of dentists, surgeons, and other medical professionals as
students. A close friend of mine, a former student, is at the Mayo
Clinic, where he cut back to 90% so he could spend more time making
jewelry. I met my first California dentist when he was my student.
Another of my dentist/student/friends from Seattle, is seriously
talking about attending an 8 week intensive this fall.

Sorry to write so much, but I just got going and could not stop.
Check out our website below for about what we offer.


Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, Inc.
760 Market Street
Suite 900
San Francisco, California 94102
tel: 415-391-4179
fax: 415-391-7570

In my view the New Approach School is one of the most comprehensive
and effective teaching institutes for both begining and experienced

I have been working as a goldsmith in the Washington area for a
number of years and have taken a variety of jewelry manufacturing and
design courses during that time.

In my opinion I was able to learn more in the courses that I took at
New Approach School than most of the other classes I have taken.

Each class I have taken at New Approach has improved my skills
tremendously and I look foward to taking more.

Ted Curtis

I’m really interested in speaking to some folks who have taken
courses at Blaine Lewis’ school; personal experiences with course
material, presentation, staff, facilities, and general impressions.
Offline is perfect.

Thanks for the wealth of knowledge for which Orchid is the

Dana Whitehorn-Umphres
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Hello all, I am interested in possibly going to the New Approach
school for the bench jewelers program. Has anyone on this list
taken the full course? In their advertisement, they say that you
may be ready to take the AJ certified bench jewelers test, level 2.
Has that been anyones experience? It seems hard to believe that
someone would be able to pass that test with only 12 weeks of

Also, what kind of employment were you able to get after this level
of training? Were you employed as a bench jeweler working on his
own or more of an apprentice? Did you work out of your own place or
in a store? Any you can share would be very valuable. I
know this is a terrific place to receive training, I’m just curious
about the average level of competency after the course is complete.

Please respond either on the list or to me personally:

Sue Hofer

I know this is old news now. but still … i’m getting through my
emails slowly…

As a novice jewellery maker, I wouldnt do a “short” course which
condenses that much training down to one 12 week burst, instead of
doing a full blown Apprenticeship. I would prefer to do the
apprenticeship, knowing I would be receiving the repetitive grounding
in the basics before I would be moving up to more advanced
techniques. And then there’s the work place… Would someone who
"may" have the skills be favoured over someone who has a 3, 4 , or 5
year apprenticeship under their belt. Surely someone with 5 Years
or more experience would be preferred for a position to someone who
has done 3 months learning and although they might have a “high level
of skill” they dont have the experience to back it up unless they
have been working in the industry prior to doing the course.

As a novice… I would see the course as a kind of stepping stone…
to complete and then move on to an apprenticeship. With those skills
I’m sure any Jeweller would be willing to take on someone as an
apprentice to train further (assuming of course the candidate was
willing to undergo the normal 1st year apprentice rigmarole).

I say all this as someone who is interested in doing an
apprenticeship in the near future… doing some legwork at the moment
learning what I would need to do.

Hope I havent tread on any toes…

Trevor Ffrench
Perth, Western Australia

PS. Thanks to those who have helped me thus far with my questions
regarding apprenticeship, I’ve asked around a few places and am
getting the idea of what i need to do.

I notice Trevor is in Australia. Maybe Australia is like Europe, but
here in the USA, apprenticeship programs are a thing of the past, few
and far between. Don’t mean to differ sir, but if you haven’t seen
what a 12 week course can do, then you can’t compare.

I went through a 12 year apprenticeship program. Never learned how
to do 100% of what’s taught in Blaine’s class. Anyone graduating from
the class can do WHATEVER is in a typical repair box and do it well
and fast. The jeweler should be able to make $25,000-$30,000 first
year out.

Compare that to the first 3 years of apprenticeship, less knowledge
and 25% less pay. And you don’t break or melt your employers goods,

David Geller

510 Sutters Point
Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 255-9565

Trevor, and all,

You are totally correct when you stated that the 12 week course at
the New Approach School is a “stepping stone” to an apprenticeship. A
"full blown apprenticeship" is usually nothing more than an entry
level position in a jewelry shop. I have not seen any "true"
apprenticeships offered by anyone in the industry. Many years ago, I
had the great fortune to do just such an apprenticeship. The Master
set aside time every day to further my training, and I was given a
series of projects and written exams to complete. I also spent a
great part of my day working in the shop doing repairs, polishing,
grunt work, 12 hours a day, at minimum wage. After 5 years of very
hard work, I received the “honorary” title of Master Goldsmith. I
spent the next 25 years trying to master goldsmithing…

The 12 week program at the New Approach School, or the similar
program offered at Revere Academy, are truly unique opportunities. If
someone with no skills were to apply for a job at any production
shop, they would have to be desperately in need of a “warm body” to
hire you at all. You will require someone to stop what they are
working on (regularly) to train you. You will be a liability for many
months. Most likely, you will receive just enough training to make
you useful,but not enough to advance quickly. You will be able to
PRACTICE your new skills every day. The quality of your training will
only be as good as the person training you. There are a lot of people
out there with years of experience that do not know the PROPER way to
do things.

The Intensive Jewelry Training program really does condense a LOT
into a very short time. You will also receive your training from a
top-notch professional, someone who is well known and well respected
in the industry. What you don’t get in 12 weeks is the years of
PRACTICE. If you were to apply for a position at a production shop,
you have something to offer your employer: KNOWLEDGE. Your employer
knows that you won’t be as fast or experienced as someone with five
years of bench experience, but you will quickly excel at any task
that you are given. You will be an asset in that shop from the very
first day. After five years of practice, you will be so much farther
ahead than by ANY other path you could have taken.

JA Certification is also available as a way to “certify” your level
of expertise. I would expect that a diligent, capable student would
probably have mastered enough skill and received enough training to
pass the Level 2 Bench Jeweler certification.

In my opinion, the program at the Revere Academy and at the New
Approach School are worth far more than the cost of tuition. If you
seriously love this field and truly wish to master all the
and skills available in one lifetime, then this will be
the best investment you ever made. I can guarantee it.

Douglas Zaruba
35 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107

Hi Gang,

I hope you are all well- I’ve been up to my eyeballs in alligators,
and have been reading, but haven’t had time to post in awhile.

I teach week 10 of the Graduate Bench Jeweler Program at New
Approach School for Jewelers in Virginia Beach. The students start
the program with little or no experience. I have to say, that in each
class I was totally blown away by the skill level of the students.
The long program classes are by far the easiest I have ever taught-
because the students have excellent work habits. The students showed
me their job boxes with the projects they had already accomplished
(Many prong, channel, bezel set, and pave ring mountings, that they
had detailed, sized, set and finished; hand engraving; chain repairs;
and pieces they fabricated, completely by hand- a 3 stone oval ring,
and a 3 stone platinum trellis ring to name a few.) I teach them wax
carving and design development.

These students are accomplishing, very well, tasks that I have seen
jewelers who have been at the bench for 10 or more years struggle
with- if they could do it at all.

If I was looking to hire a new employee, I’d want one that went
through this program. If I had an employee that I wanted to keep
around for awhile, I’d invest in education for the employee- whether
it was a one week class or the 8-12 week long program. An educated
employee is going to be an asset to my business, and will be happier
and more productive.

If I had attended this school early in my career, I could have made
my employers a lot more money (and saved them a bunch of gray

Have a delightful day! Best Regards from Portland Maine,

Kate Wolf
Free tutorials at &
Workshops at Wolf Designs

I just came across a website … The New Approach School for
Jewelers… in Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. It looks very good and I
was wondering if anyone has any knowledge about this school.

Its a 5 day workshop, not too much money and seems like an
opportunity to learn everything I’ve been trying to learn out of

Whaddya’ think?

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Very Wonderful school, excellent teacher and great tools and

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David S. Geller
510 Sutters Point
Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 255-9565
“Dedicated to Improving Jeweler’s Profitability”