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To Glue, or not to Glue


Well, this thread certainly has elicited some very strong opinions!
I remember hearing a similar discussion at Penland one year…in
the wood studio. Seems that some wood workers were equally adamant
about using only fine joinery in their work, while others felt that
the technique only courted disaster. The guy working on the addition
to my studio swears by construction adhesive. They’re all correct.

Gluing a diamond into a setting would be just as inappropriate as
using construction adhesive on a fine cabinet. Fine joinery is a joy
to behold, but would be out of place when stick framing a house. A
good craftsman should know when a technique is appropriate, and when
it is not. If a stone can be set without using any adhesives, I’d
have to agree that this is the proper way to set a stone, but if I am
unsure that this technique alone can guarantee the safety and
security of the stone, I will look for another way to do it. There
are other ways to do the job without resorting to glue. But modern
chemistry has come a long way, and there are adhesives out there that
you will not believe. And remember, this thread started out
discussing bullet cabs, not the crown jewels…

The world around us is rapidly changing, and so is the technology
available to goldsmiths. Cnc milling, stereo lithography, laser
welders, even Internet marketing was not available only a generation
ago. Many will follow the path of new technology, while many others
will continue to keep the old traditions alive.

So, before I leave this thread…how do you feel about trimming
a stone to make it fit?



Doug, interesting question. I met a jeweler several years ago who
worked for a very well known, quality company that produced a very
clean, contemporary, sleekly modern line of fine jewelery. Lots of
hammerset mellee and colored pears and marquis, stuff like
tourmalines, fine amethysts, corundums, iolites, etc. At any rate, he
was a setter and his dad was a setter – his work was beautiful-- and
his beef w/ the company was that they routinely dulled or rounded the
points on the trillions, marquis and pears before setting: standard

Problem in his eyes was 10 years down the road when the client went
to have their jewelry up dated, stones reset in something fresh, etc.
The points, which before were hidden under bezels or chevrons would
then be found to be missing. Interesting dillema in that the client
would then find out that what they had assumed was a fine gem had been
altered, even mutilated from the get-go.

This raises a point concerning disclosure and really what they
assumed that the piece was they were purchasing. Were they buying a
fine, well cut gem set into a piece of jewelery; or were they buying
a completed piece in which the stone played only a supporting role?

When a collector purchases one of my brooches from a gallery, they
are buying and responding to the piece, its content and concept and my
personal aethetic rather than to the intrisic value of the materials
themselves (I would hope). But when I have a custom client for whom
I designing an engagement ring, then they are purchasing something
else, the value here resting much more on the worth of the diamond

Sorry about tyhe rambling here, it’s early in Seattle. At any rate
to alter a client’s stone is unthuinkable. To alter a stone that the
client has selected and about which the piece is built is also wrong.
However a piece built on spec. may be a different matter. Again, if
the intent of the piece is that it is fine jewelery I would consider
the object-- ring, pendant, etc.-- as almost a transient object which
may sooner or later be disassembled and reworked. An “art” piece is
about something different however, and here stone altering-- such as
darkening opals w/ a black background-- may be fine. Perhaps the
answer lies in disclosure. I routinely use opals in my work, some
solid, some boulder and some fine doublets. I refer to each properlay
on the list of materials, just as I would a synthetic stone. To
collectors the intrinsic worth of the material is, again, not the
issue for them. As long as they know… Good question. Andy