Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Starting Diamond Setting Outlook


#1

All, First let me say that I am very impressed how well everybody
gets along and how professional ya’ll are.

I have a question: My company recently closed (high tech) and I find
myself having some spare time, and without much money. In talking
with my wife, we agreed that this would be a good time to do
something that I was interested in for a long time, but did not get
a chance to do due to my job. That is jewelry.

For some reason, I am very interested in diamond setting more then
anything else. I think I might have a disease :slight_smile:

I’m in my early 30’s and this is what I was thinking: Start learning
by buying findings and the melee diamonds, sell them to locals
stores or eBay. This way I would learn and get some experience. I
would start with one setting or two and try to perfect them so I can
do them in my sleep then move on to a different setting.

Let me just say that I think I am a much better business/sales man
then artist. But I have this strange desire to learn setting
stones…

Here are my questions:

  1. Am I crazy to even consider this? What would be the problems with
    this scenario?

  2. Can this be done?

  3. How long before I could approach local stores about getting some
    jobs to set stones as they need? How will they react if I say I can
    do only one or two type of settings?

  4. I always wanted to have my own shop. Can this type of work be
    done out of my own studio or is it more likely to be in-store kind
    of job?

I apologize for the ranting but I appreciate any and all the help I
can get. Thanks,

David


#2

David, Haven’t seen any responses to your questions but thought I
might provide you with at least a little insight.

Setting in the trade, though I have never done it as a tradesman, is
highly specialized. I have had ‘setters’ come to me to repair stones
because they have no idea how to do that even though some of them
have been setters for decades.

If you are in the ‘burbs’ you can often get jobs from jeweler’s in
strip malls or local stores or, if you look around, even a small
jeweler manufacturer. But don’t look to make a serious living at it.
Setters who do nothing but set all day every day, do not get all
that much a stone and, if a store already has someone who can do
their setting, they will be less inclined to take you unless you can
undercut their current jobber and then you will be making almost
nothing.

Be sure what ever you do in this regard that you protect yourself!
There are continuing raging discussions about whether a setter should
be responsibile for that damaged stone or how the cost should be
broken down. If you do get jobs from local jewelers, you can expect
to see all sorts of jobs on all sorts of settings and all sorts of
stones from diamonds to quartzs. You need to understand that some
stones, not to mention cuts, are much more difficult than others
requiring greater skills. But the jeweler is not going to be happy
if you tell him, "Oh, I can’t do that kind of stone/setting yet!"
Or, “I don’t do tourmalines (or cut the grass either)!”

Can you do it? Probably depending on your grit, tenacity,
determination, and all that. To find out, find a well experienced
setter and talk him into taking you on as an apprentice for awhile.
In short time you will know if its for you!

Sorry to be slightly negative but its a tough area to work. Cheers
from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple elegance IS
fine jewelry! @coralnut2


#3

I want to thank those that have responded so far.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking after I posted and if I am going to
do this, I’ll probably want to take the Revere stone setting classes.
I’m in Sacramento so its a relatively short drive…

I want to be very honest with everybody, due to my family and
financial situation, I have only one shot at this and I need to make
it work. My wife is working full time, and I would only need to get
enough jobs (~500/mo) to supplement what she makes. Unfortunately
taking a regular job is not an option as I need to stay home with my
kids… If I do take one, I would have to earn enough because my wife
could not work then, as she works retail and her schedule is all over
the place…

I have some money saved up, and we are committed to make it work, we
just don’t know if it can be done or what way would be best to do it
in.

I’ve been thinking of taking the 1st and 2nd Stone Setting classes at
Revere and then take their repair classes before going back for more
stone setting classes after I earn a little bit and get more
experience. I figured this would give me a more rounded experience
and allow me to take in repairs also.

Would this be enough?

If you are in the 'burbs' you can often get jobs from > jeweler's
in strip malls or local stores or, if you look around, even a small
jeweler manufacturer. But don't look to make a serious living at
it. Setters who do nothing but set all day every day, do not get
all that much a stone and, if a store already has someone who can
do their setting, they will be less inclined to take you unless
you can undercut their current jobber and then you will be making
almost nothing. 

I apologize for my ignorance but how does a setter charge? What’s the
process of quoting a price for setters?

My last question for now… how much of a workload would I have to
bring in every month to make $500/mo?

Again thanks for all your help.


#4

Hi David,

May I make a suggestion? Don’t take offense but I think you are
getting the cart before the horse. Let me explain:

In your first message you mentioned that you plan on selling the
items you make on eBay. Why don’t you first try re-selling jewelry
(that you purchase from wholesalers) on eBay to get a handle on the
business aspect first? I think making the jewelry is only half the
battle. The other half for you will be trying to get it sold. So why
not try selling jewelry (even though it’s made by somebody else) on
eBay and see if you can make a profit? Competition is fierce on eBay
but making a living selling jewelry in that venue is possible. (If I
can make a living doing it then anybody can!) There is so much to do
and learn to get your eBay business up and running profitably. For
example:

  • you have to apply for business licenses and a tax id number
  • see if zoning laws allow you to run a business out of your home
  • find out if your homeowners insurance prohibits you from running
    this type of business in your home
  • learn to use accounting software
  • learn how to photograph jewelry and use photo-imaging software.
  • learn html or how to use a program such as Microsoft FrontPage to
    make attractive eBay ads.
  • learn the advantages and pittfalls of accepting certain types of
    payment of eBay.
  • learning the myriad of eBay rules for sellers
  • will you need to apply for a merchant credit card account?
  • develop terms of sale (return policies etc.)
  • determine the best way to ship your product - usps, ups etc.
  • packaging
  • develop a good feedback rating
  • learn how to use the eBay advanced search option to do market
    research and find out what is selling.
  • find out the best days and times to post ads.
  • etc. etc.

The list could go on and on. I guess what I’m trying to suggest is
that you should gain experience selling jewelry profitably on eBay
first. Then you will have the business end “nailed down”. You will
also then have some income coming in while you are learning how to
make jewelry.

A helpful link for anybody selling on eBay is www.auctionbytes.com
there you will find all kinds of useful to sellers. Make
sure you sign up for their free newsletter.

BTW - out of that list above I’d like to stress the importance of
good photography. I probably get 30% more for my items than other
merchants selling the same things as I do because I take great care
with my photography. I think that excellent photography conveys a
certain level of professionalism and thus makes the customer feel
more comfortable buying from you because you appear to be a reputable
seller.

Just a few thoughts to consider. Hope you keep us posted as to how
you are doing.

Good luck!
Dan T.


#5

Hello David P. et al !

I am, as mostly all of you know a Diamond Setter. I started this
trade when I was only 15 and did my apprenticeship for 9 years…you
know David, I wouldn’t change it for anything else. why? If you
decide to look in to this field of work, its a most wonderful trade
around. You get to learn so much about the jewellery trade per se.

The numeration is as follows; I make just a tad more than $500.00
per month.:>)

how much more? lets just say that as I am quite proficient in pave’
and “bright-cutting”…I can make this kind of money in less than a
week, but it has taken me many long years to get to this level of
expertise… I am also now teaching this setting trade at a
community college here in Toronto, Canada…If you want to look
around and stick to an area of setting that you are comfortable with,
you too can advertise your own style of setting. Don’t for a minute
expect to be a “maven” or journeyman in a few days or months. It
takes many years of perseverance…you gotta find your own niche’.
Some setters I know stick with bezel setting, or claw setting, or
baguettes and even “invisible setting”. One fellow I knew all he
did was baguettes by the hundreds per week! So the ‘field’ is open to
you ! I would take as many courses from the ‘best’ schools around, in
your country. You know the ‘famous’ ones…If you are doing repairs,
having setting as a an ‘extra’ is just

what the client wants to hear. You too can be a more 'rounded’
jeweller in doing repairs. I cannot tell what to charge as I am in a
different country and our prices are so vastly different…PRACTICE,
PRACTICE and do more PRACTISING!!!

Your work load would not be too heavy to make even $500.00 month…I
used to work at home for many years. My daughter then was very ill
and I still managed to succeed and still had the bills paid. You can
still have loads of time for your younger kids…write to me at
@Gerald if you wish. “Gerry, the Cyber-Setter !”

"www.gemzdiamondsetting.com"
North America, toll free:1-877-850-0003


#6
    I want to thank those that have responded so far. I've been
doing a lot of thinking after I posted and if I am going to do
this, I'll probably want to take the Revere stone setting classes.
I'm in Sacramento so its a relatively short drive... I have some
money saved up, and we are committed to make it work, we just don't
know if it can be done or what way would be best to do it in. I've
been thinking of taking the 1st and 2nd Stone Setting classes at
Revere and then take their repair classes before going back for
more stone setting classes after I earn a little bit and get more
experience. I figured this would give me a more rounded experience
and allow me to take in repairs also. Would this be enough? 

Wow… In a nutshell, it’s a start, but so many hours need to be
spent at the bench… You need to set thousands of stones, develop
your techniques. I think the most important thing here is, where is
the work coming from? My two cents here is, I’d look for a
manufacturer that could contract work to you on a regular basis.

It might help to know something of how setters and bench jewelers
were trained in the past. Back when I apprenticed (71 to 75), there
was a method in union shops (yes there was the International Jewelry
Workers Union then). There were 7 levels of capacity within the
system. Lets see if I can still remember them all. I think it was
assumed that each level had mastery of all levels beneath it, but
this was not a requirement.

Top level - Diamond Setter
2nd level - Model Maker (fabrication - wax carving...)
3rd level - badge maker - engraver (die engraver - press operator)
4th level - repair
5th level - assembly - polishing
6th level - caster - mold maker
7th level - filer (prepares castings for polishing and assembly)

Maybe some other old timers here can correct me if I’ve made a
mistake or two…

Anyway, the point is, the diamond setter was the top level position
and one of the most respected positions in the shop, and one of the
most difficult to master. So you see, you’re considering quite a
challenging path. You can certainly do it, but be prepared to find
teachers where ever you can find them. Many of us learned by sitting
next to workers better than our selves, 8 hours a day, for years…
Even then, it was a challenge. I was very lucky to study under some
extremely fine old setters in S.F., including the original
setter/model-maker/platinum-smith for Granat Bros. (Charles Delong)
who was in his 90’s at the time. He taught me the method of
pre-cutting bright cuts by having me beadset and pave’ rhinestones
into rolled out nickels! Talk about challenging! That man was a
phenomenal model-maker/setter!

So please, develop some relationships, at least ONE, with shops that
can feed you setting work on a regular basis until you gain enough
mastery to forge ahead on your own. Take ANY kind of setting you can
do to get your foot in the door. I suggest you start with prong
setting. I used to prong set for 25 cents a stone in the very
beginning (earrings mostly), not that you should, but the point is
you need to start out with a shop, and maybe to give a highly cut
rate to get the work in the very beginning to get the work. You’ll be
competing against shops that are hard pressed to get enough work to
keep their employees busy, but there is definitely work to be had.

Bead setting and bright cutting requires a LOT (think in terms of
years) of practice to develop the particular hand and forearm muscles
used, and to learn the techniques of tool shaping and sharpening, and
the all the various techniques required. I remember one setter I used
to sit next to. He had forearms like Popeye! He could either do a
bright cut or raise a bead in one pass. This guy was strong, and an
extremely fast setter. At that time, he had been bead setting
exclusively for about 20 years.

Regarding potential income, I wouldn’t count on it to bring in much
in the beginning. After a few years of setting, and developing
relationships with your customers, you might make a livable income,
but it’s tough!

To find prices, go to all the local stores and talk with anyone who
will talk with you. Also find all the trade shops in your area and
talk with anyone there who will talk with you. Most stores will have
price lists given to them by various trade shops, but will most
probably NOT give you any work until you can show them samples of
your setting mastery. Even then, it may be difficult to get work even
at cut rates. Do meet and talk with everyone in the trade you can.
The work will come from relationships you develop, and will continue
based on the quality of your setting, your pricing, and keeping
promised delivery dates!

I applaud your spirit, and I wish you all the luck in the world.

Jeffrey Everett