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The Test


#1
I'll see if I can put together a faq for the list... oh yeah, the test
costs in the neighborhood of $1000, and can be taken at your own bench
with a proctor.

Jeffrey They are going to charge a thousand dollars to supervise
this test? Who died and made them the god of metal. These people
need to be stopped now. It sounds like a bunch of poppos windbag
ivory tower jeweler types who have never done a decent day’s work
are setting the standards. Quality takes time. Haste makes waste.
All of those old sayings are true. What right do these
egotistical metal dabblers have in judging our profession? Who
are they? Can they do the work, can they pass these insane test?
What are their qualifications. I want this job. 1000 dollars a
day for testing someone would be a nice job. But seriously we
need to guard aginst being forced to conform to some regulatory
basis for our trade. It might not be bad now but given half a
chance this could get out of hand. " Oh I’m sorry we can not
hire you despite your skill because you can not get a masters
rating by cranking out a tin box like a stamping machine". I am
mad can you tell!!! I had college professors who would look
down their noses at traditional jewelry and sneer at anything
that was not totally insane in it’s style. It seems like they
stayed up late just to figure out more ways to create junk and
call it art. These same people are the type to impose their
unified structure on our profession.


#2

I am mad can you tell!!!

Red,

At the risk of getting you madder, I know the gentleman who did
the trial test on the box. He did it in 5 hours, and knowing him
it was done with superior workmanship. He is a master goldsmith
from Germany. (There is that difference between European
training and the US again.) I personally can’t imagine myself
doing that project in less than a week. I am a very slow worker,
but, in my case, that is in part due to a lack of experience. I
don’t think that it is the intent of the testing to encourage
poor quality workmanship. They will not only test speed, but
also quality of workmanship. In order to qualify, you need to
have both. The time constraints for the other three levels are
less stringent, but still do exist. I think the idea is that you
be skilled enough to not make time consuming mistakes.

I would be interested to see how they arrived at their fee
schedule for these tests. The fee does not include proctoring.
It does include a kit for you to perform the test, which is
comprised of practical, written and some sort of video testing.
It also, as was pointed out, includes evaluation of 1000 points
of workmanship, which I assume takes some time, but the fee still
seems excessive, especially if you need to take it more than
once!

Maybe we can get someone from JA to respond to some of our
concerns and questions.

Please don’t be too angry, I believe they really are trying to
be helpful to the industry. They may just need to do some fine
tuning to make the program work.

Still friends?

Sharon Ziemek
GoldStones, Inc.


#3
Jeffrey They are going to charge a thousand dollars to supervise
this test?

Bruce

I have offered incomplete I apologize. I intend to contact JA
again and get an official FAQ to post here.

The cost includes all the materials to perform the tests, platinum,
solder, etc… as well as the time of the judges to grade the work on over
1000 separate points. The proctoring can be done by an approved clergy,
nurse, etc… at your own bench, or at their site.

The test is a combined effort of GIA, Jewelers of America, and possibly
others as well. Please forgive me for not taking the time right now to
look up the info, I’ll do that soon and post it (with the approval of JA).

On one hand, I agree with your sentiments Bruce. On the other, I’m
overjoyed to finally see some standards established. True, their
requirements regarding the masters test are a bit broad, but I understand
them. Back in the 1970s I sized rings for income. I became so good at it I
could really pump them out. To this day I can easily size at least 20
rings an hour (up and down, not including polishing). Familiarity brings
speed, and some of the tests may include processes that are unfamiliar to
the average experienced jeweler. That is the part that bothers me. There is
virtually no call for diamond-set hinged metal boxes today, so WHY is it
in the test… I know, as a test of skills, but it still irks me. In fact,
the last time I was asked to make a gold box was in 1983… and before
that, in 1977, and I personally do a more varied line of jewelry work than
anyone else I know (which really doesn’t mean that much).

They intend to establish a database of jewelry workers, and all certified
jewelers and retailers (only JA?) will be able to access the database and
share techniques in a discussion area. Another thing that irqs me is that
a senior bench technician will not be able to access the masters discussion
area etc… There’s probably a good rationale for that, but I can’t
imagine what…

until later

Jeffrey Everett


#4
Who died and made them the god of metal. These people
need to be stopped now. It sounds like a bunch of poppos windbag
ivory tower jeweler types who have never done a decent day's work
are setting the standards.

I agree, whats with this making a box with a diamond pave section anyway.
When was the last time anyone had to do anything like that. Who are these
nutbags?

Mark P.


#5

I think the $1,000 includes the program cost and they supply you
with all test materials. I also belive the money covers
promoting the titles earned by you so that they are more than a
piece of paper.

Steve


#6
Please don't be too angry, I believe they really are trying to
be helpful to the industry.  They may just need to do some fine
tuning to make the program work.

Dear Sharon Good lord I am not mad at you or anyone else on this
forum . Do not worry I just had a bad day , and I resist any sort
of govermental regulation or forcing of illogical standards. You
are right give them a few years though to refine the program. I
just do not want to see this thing become some overpowering
force. Like I said before Just because a school said I was a
master jeweler I certainly was not at the time. In contrast just
because this commission will hand out a certificate does it mean
you are really a well rounded master jeweler or just able to pass
the test on those specific items. So much confusion, so much
debate. I gotta go cast now, but thanks ever so much for your
input and concern. As always it is so very nice to hear from you!
RED


#7
At the risk of getting you madder, I know the gentleman who did
the trial test on the box.  He did it in 5 hours, and knowing him
it was done with superior workmanship.  He is a master goldsmith
from Germany. 
I don't think that the term "master goldsmith" means the same

thing in Germany that we in the U.S.A. ascribe to it. I have
worked with at least two “master goldsmiths” that had a hard time
doing a good job on relatively simple repair work. This is not to
say that they weren’t good. I’m sure rthat they were very good
at a few aspects of the trade. I’m just not satisfied that they
had mastered a craft. After twenty seven years I know that I
haven’t.

I was under the impression that in the days of old, when an

apprentice had finished his term of servitude he would hit the
road for more education through the school of hard knocks while
learning from other jewelers. During this period he was called a
journeyman. He was still an employee. After a couple more years,
he would be allowed to hang out his own shingle and be
responsible for all aspects of his own business. That has a lot
to do with mastery as far as I am concerned. Knowing enough about
my business to clean up my own mistakes and knowing enough to
help someone else learn by my own errors.

In 1972, I was called up for the draft. In those days I was

fortunate in that I was given an occupational deferment because
I was in an apprenticeship program. Much the same as other kids
my age were getting educational deferments. I suspect that this
deferment was, in fact bestowed upon “nice white boys” that were
not otherwise not deemed some type of threat to the community. I
finished that phase and was given a sheepskin of sorts from the
city District of Columbia manpower administration calling me a
"journeyman jewelry repairman". Since that time, I have signed a
couple of other apprentices off with a similar program in
Virginia.

I called the JA today. I'm interested in their test. I can't

believe that if the test is so standardized that we all know what
is in it that it can’t otherwise be practiced to perfection.

Further, I have a hard time understanding what my time is

really worth. Like someone said, I spent a couple years sizing
rings for catalogue showrooms and I can knock those out with
quality and make a good living handily. Doing the kind of work
that I do today is another story. I can do some good work, and
sometimes I can do it damned fast, but I can’t always bring
myself to charge ring sizing rates. That is, rates comparable to
what I charge when I size rings. I suspect that standardized
testing could help alot in this area.It could also be a big help
in hiring.

I have an apprentice these days. I believe that certification

would give him something to work toward. I at least got a
certificate for my early work. A lot of friends in this business
didn’t. They may still be in the business and doing well. I’m
sure that they’d like to have some knid of certificate to hang
up. Why, after all of these years, shouldn’t they be able to get
one?

Bruce D. Holmgrain
e-mail: @Bruce_Holmgrain
http:\www.knight-hub.com\manmtndense\bhh3.htm
snail mail: pob 7972, McLean, VA 22106-7972
phone:: 703-593-4652


#8

< Back in the 1970s I sized rings for income. I became so good at it I
< could really pump them out. To this day I can easily size at least 20
< rings an hour (up and down, not including polishing).

Dear Jeff

Although your post was about the ‘test’, I just have to know how I can
size 20 rings an hour. Up and down. I’m a retail jeweler who spends the
majority of the day at the bench. Your outline of tips would be really
appreciated.

Thanks
Allan Freilich (waterphoto)


#9

Jeffrey, I agree with all the posts, especially Red’s. This
test is really insane! My customers here in Virginia care alot
more on my design capabilities ( I have a BFA in jewelry design
and apprenticed under a “master” goldsmith for 3 years) than if
I can carbon copy something I’ll probably never have to make
anyway.

I’ve seen the emphasis of JA and GIA, for that matter on
traditional jewelry, with all the brite cutting and milgrain work
that I never see any more. I don’t know about where everyone
else is, but people are coming to me because they want something
fresh and different, something nobody else has, not a copy of
something worn by thier great grandmother! Anyways, I could
never get into any major shows making little paved silver boxes.

No way am I paying $1000 to take a test to get some bogus
certification. I think our degrees and the awards we win speak
for themselves. Wendy Newman Gold Graphix @Wendy_Newman


#10
Jeffrey They are going to charge a thousand dollars to supervise
this test?

Jeffrey,

I agree with all the posts, especially Red’s. This test is
really insane! My customers here in Virginia care alot more on
my design capabilities ( I have a BFA in jewelry design and
apprenticed under a “master” goldsmith for 3 years) than if I can
carbon copy something I’ll probably never have to make anyway.

I’ve seen the emphasis of JA and GIA, for that matter on
traditional jewelry, with all the brite cutting and milgrain
work that I never see any more. I don’t know about where
everyone else is, but people are coming to me because they want
something fresh and different, something nobody else has, not a
copy of something worn by thier great grandmother! Anyways, I
could never get into any major shows making little paved silver
boxes.

No way am I paying $1000 to take a test to get some bogus
certification. I think our degrees and the awards we win speak
for themselves. Wendy Newman Gold Graphix @Wendy_Newman


#11

Hey guys, I love this discussion.

You know, when I design and build something, it’s a crap shoot of sorts.
That’s not to say that I’ll turn out crap, it is just that … well,
remember when you were in art class in , say, the 4th grade? Invariably, I
turned out an ashtray. Didn’t matter what I intended to make in the
beginning. A horse, a bust of Lincoln, a new car design. In the end it was
an ashtray. Same thing happened in later years in shop class. The great
thing about doing my own designs is that if I turn out an ashtray, I can
tell everyone that that is exactly what I intended. They’re great looking
ashtrays. And you should hear the ooohs & ahs.

I am the "master goldfish on the premises" for a small retailer. The

reason that they call me this is that I can be given virtually any job and
come hell or high water, one way or another, it will get done. Bead &
brightcut, pave, ballerina, channel or prong setting. Castings or
fabricated pieces. Whatever design an “artist” comes up with, I deliver.
The only things that I haven’t done are invisible settings, granulation
and PMC. I have three granulation jobs that start coming due next week and
I am sure that before I kick the bucket I’ll have to try some invisible
setting. As for PMC, I’ve got no interest. As far as I can see, it’s best
use is in the construction of fine ashtrays. The best part of what I do is
that the “artist” is not so limited by what I can do so much as how
creative he can be.

I have seen talented artists and bozos from right off the streets come up
with good designs. The hard part is to execute someone’s dream. Whether
it’s your own or someone elses. Damned hard thing to do sometimes. In my
arrogant and self righteous opinion, that’s got a lot to do with what being
a master mechanic or goldsmith is about. That’s why they’ve designed
certain points of this test around building a box. Me? I’ll bet a grand I
can build a box.

Bruce Holmgrain *
*POB 7972, McLean, VA, 22106 *
*http:\www.knight-hub.com\manmtndense\bhh3.htm *
*@Bruce_Holmgrain *


#12

< I am sure that before I kick the bucket I’ll have to try some
< invisible setting.

We have been turning down invisible setting. I need to learn to
do it. Anyone have any info on picking this up. Thanks in
advance.

Mark P.


#13

Wendy
Thank you for your support of my stance on this topic.
After reading everyones views I realize that there are some valid
reasons for this certification, but I think the reasons aginst it
still outweigh the reasons for it. My friend Wes once said “If it
ain’t broke Red don’t fix it” Our profession is not broke and
although there is always room for improvement I do not think this
is the right method or area to improve. “Down with the test” Have
a good weekend RED.


#14

Wendy,

I think you are definately onto something about achieving
success through the ability to provide fresh looks. The problem
as I see it is that everyone wants to be a designer and to a
certain extent everyone is, but having the ability to follow
through successfully at the bench is what separates the public
from the professional jeweler. That is with the exception of
having a known name as a designer in the industry.

The other positive attributes of being a hands on designer are
that your designs grow with complete knowledge of the materials,
dimension, and, in the case of wax carving, sculpture.

You can try designing and jobbing out the work but I can tell
you as a goldsmith of seven years plus 16 months at Paris Junior
College, (who incidentally is the third sponsor with JA and GIA)
that is not the kind of work I want unless you can really pay and
it’s expensive. There are people who will but the skill levels
vary immensely. As an employer of goldsmiths, it is tough to
evaluate prospects. Some of the toughest to hire are graduates
of design schools. The technical training at many college level
art departments which offer jewelry programs seems lacking. With
an attainment of the JA title, skill level is conferred to
unknown people who can make hiring and pay decisions about you.
Design is different.

Wendy, it sounds like you might have attained a higher skill
level than entry level. Don’t you want people to know that?

Sincerely,

Steven Pollack
@themissinglink
http://polygon.net/~2635


#15

Why would a professional jeweler not agree that a qualification
system is needed in the industry? Is our trade less complicated
than of electricians or plumbers? The must have a certification
to practice their professions and are proud of that title. I
would not let anyone other than a Certified Subaru Mechanic work
on my Outback.

I welcome the opportunity to qualify for one of the
certifications offered by JA. If I can not quality for the top
title, then I do not have the knowledge and skills needed for
that title. I must then accept a title of lesser level of
accomplishment. Then I will work on my skills and speed for the
next attempt for the top.

I interview potential employees who are jewelry school graduates
and do not have the skills nor speed to achieve the income they
expect. They do not have the ability to weld platinum or gold
without the use of solder. When I show them how it’s done, they
are amazed. With a certification system, I can easily know the
skill level of the potential employee without wasting my time or
theirs. Many of the jewelers in our industry, purchased some of
the tools from a vendor, took the suppliers three day seminar
and now they are jewelers. Some are Master Jewelers who never
sat at the bench, their name is over the door of their retail
store and that qualifies them for the title.

I do not have an art degree form a prestigious institution of
higher learning. I received a two year watch repair degree from
Oklahoma State and worked as a watchmaker for two weeks after
graduation. My real enjoyment was working in metal. I used the
secondary jewelry training as my start in the jewelry industry.
I worked five years in a 12 jeweler trade shop. It was in the
trade shop that I was re-trained in jewelry manufacturing and
repair. My instructors had 30 to 40 years at the bench. If I
could call anyone a Master Jeweler, those were the masters.
They were second and third generation bench jewelers. Their
skilled hands callused and worn from the bench work, but their
minds were so full of knowledge. They never worked the retail
counter, their love was the bench work.

We had a jewelry designer on premise, his skill was working on
paper not with metals and he was one of the best jewelry artist
I have known… He had no idea what we were talking about when we
were looking a No. 2 flat bastard. His ideas started the
production of a jewelry item and our work, in the shop, finished
the process.

This time was before Stuller and the vast availability of styles
of findings. We fabricated mountings, wire settings, shanks,
broach clasp and box clasp. We made die struck illusion tops and
filigree mountings. I made the steel dies using a pantograph
machine and acetate templates. We worked without the aid of a
computer, using only dividers, protractors and a straight edge.
This was making jewelry, not casting from a wax model or from
some freeform wax object. We did not have a casting machine,
only cuttle bone, a metal cylinder and casting sand.

At present I don’t fabricate my basic mountings, or cut the
stone seats with a graver and burnish the stones using a hand
burnisher. I now cast using a perforated flask casting machine,
three hour burnout, cutting the seats burs and channel set using
a Graver Max. However, I still have the knowledge and skills
necessary to do the work using the old methods.

In present time, the “Jewelry Designer” usually does not have
the skills necessary to produce the article in metal form or set
the stones. Let’s give the bench jeweler the credit that he/she
has worked so hard to attain. If one can meet the requirements,
then they have paid their dues and deserve our congratulations.

I am a professional jeweler with 30 years at the bench and proud
of my accomplishments. I do not call my self a master jeweler,
but hope to be a certified jeweler in the near future.

Those of you who look at the JA Certification as an insane
movement should let industry set the standards for the
professional title. Without the skilled and professional
jewelers, where would the designers be sitting? At the bench?

Lets all work to gain the respect of the public and recognition
of our accomplishments from of our peers.

Regards,
Roger W. Kitchens
Jewelry Manufacturing, Repair and Restoration
http://web2.airmail.net/rogerk


#16

So Bruce, are you going to take the masters level test?

BTW, I sent off a post to JA for a FAQ.

What is a box anyway other than just another ashtray! …

loved your post!

       Jeffrey Everett, jewelry craftsman

Handmade 18K, 22K, and platinum gemstone jewelry.
Diamond setting, rubber/metal molds, casting, lapidary
Die and mold engraving, plastic patterns for casting.
Jewelry design, cad/cam, milling, scroll, filigree, & more.
P O Box 2057 Fairfield IA 52556 515-469-6250


#17
So Bruce, are you going to take the masters level test?
I got the on the tests yesterday. At no point does

it mention a box. It does say that the masters cert requires one
to exhibit the ability to repair any piece of jewelry and a
requirement to build to spec. A little vague in the specification
dpartment, I think.

The worst part is that one needs to supply a proctor. A teacher

or CPA. The masters tests can take up to 36 huors. there are
three phases for the masters test and one is allowed to take one
of those without the proctor. That leaves 24 hours of proctor
time. In addition, one may not sign up directly for the masters
cert. The applicant needs to take one of the tests for the
previous grade. If I remember, I’ll quote the requirements
tomorrow.

Otherwise, I'll be shopping around for a proctor tomorrow.

#18

IHMO,

The JA series of tests for the goldsmith trade is a long over
due program. The way I see it, it’s an attempt to put some
credibility in some of the advertising stores do.

Today anybody can put up a sign that says 'Master Goldsmith’
wether he can size a ring or can complete the most intricate job.
All that’s needed is a sign painter & someone to give him the
words & pay for the sign.

At least with the program being suggested by JA, when they put
their imprimatur on the certificate the whole world knows that
the owner of the certificate possesses a certan level of skill at
the mfgr & repair of jewelry. It doesn’t say anything about his
design ability. It basically tells the run of the mill customer
that he stands a better than average chance of getting his piece
back in better shape than it was when he dropped it off. JA &
GIA are initials that are recognized by at least a portion of the
public as having something to do with the gem & jewelry business.

Wether there is a need for little boxes with paved stones (or
whatever) is immaterial as far as the test goes. The test is
designed to determine if you’re capable of performing a given
list of tasks satisfactorily. I’m sure if you asked 100 master
goldsmiths for their list of skill requirements you’d get about
50 of the same skills on each list & the rest would vary,
depending on the emphasis of their work, the trickiest job they
ever did & last most difficult job they finished.

The pricing structure always leaves room for argument. Assuming
you get to keep what you make for the test, it’d be nice if you
could make something saleable or useful. Maybe they could offer a
list of 3 -4 things you could select from. But then, a real
master can handle anything.

Hope I can develope the skills to pass the tests!

Good luck to all that try!

Dave


#19

Roger, I greatly enjoyed reading your post. Forgive me for
quoting so much of it, but I couldn’t help myself… :slight_smile:

Why would a professional jeweler not agree that a qualification
system is needed in the industry? 

I personally have looked forward to bench certification for the
last 25 years.

Some are Master Jewelers who never
sat at the bench, their name is over the door of their retail
store and that qualifies them for the title. 

It still irks me when my competition calls himself a master
jeweler…

My instructors had 30 to 40 years at the bench.  If I
could call anyone a Master Jeweler, those were the masters. 
They were second and third generation bench jewelers. Their
skilled hands callused and worn from the bench work, but their
minds were so full of knowledge.

so very very true… I really miss working with Charles (Jack)
DeLong, a true master of a largely forgotten craft.

This time was before Stuller and the vast availability of styles
of findings.  We fabricated mountings, wire settings, shanks,
broach clasp and box clasp. We made die struck illusion tops and
filigree mountings.  I made the steel dies using a pantograph
machine and acetate templates.  We worked without the aid of a
computer, using only dividers, protractors and a straight edge. 
This was making jewelry, not casting from a wax model or from
some freeform wax object. 

BIG SNIP

Yes, that was jewelry making. Go back a little further in time
before flexshafts when azured and pierced diamond-platinum
jewelry was common. Economics is killing the craft but I believe
a renaissance of jewelry craftsmanship is in progress. I’m still
asked to make pieces that would qualify as estate jewelry, but I
also create pieces that were difficult if not impossible years
ago thanks to my computer operated 3 axis milling machine and
investment casting.

Just the same, when I finish a pierced, azured, bright cut
piece, there is a sense of satisfaction that is hard to come by
with a casting. I LIKE handmade jewelry, and I like making it,
but a talented wax carver can create incredible patterns. We may
yet come to see pieces that pale the old time work (under the new
technological paradigm), but l wouldn’t forget the consciousness
of the jewelry worker is what made the pieces so breath taking.

Jeffrey Everett


#20

We have been turning down invisible setting. I need to learn to
do it. Anyone have any info on picking this up. Thanks in
advance.

Mark The best way to work on invisible settings without going
blind and mad is easy. Send it back to the manufacturer!!! If
that is not an option we always look real confused when a
customer wants one worked on or sized and tell them we are a
plumbing supply house and haven’t changed the sign out front yet.
RED