Training Question

I have taken local silversmith classes where I learned bezel setting and a prong setting class. I have learned tube setting from my own studies and I am actively practicing all of these techniques in my jewelry designing. I have attached some photographs so you can see where I am at in my abilities. I want to learn more stone setting techniques and I see that there are schools all over the country that offer a 5 day stone setting class that I think would fit what I am looking for. My question to all of you is any advice on what schools are good, and how to find the good ones. It would be quite an investment for me to do a 5 day class not local and I want to make sure I am spending my money wisely. Thanks in advance for your help.

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You are at the right stage of wanting to learn more! If you are interested
in private classes I may have a suggestion for you, would you kindly
contact me offline @ "”.Thanks

*Gerry Lewy *

This may not be what you want to do, but, your work looks really good, good enough to get your foot in the door and land a bench job in a busy high end retail store or a wholesale shop. Work there for 2-3 years, even part time, and as long as you’re working with talented people you skills will really improve. Plus you get paid.

If you don’t want that Blaine Lewis used to have an excellent program aimed at specific skills including a variety of setting styles. He probably still does. He sells really good dvds too. Worth the money.

I did the Blaine Lewis class at the New Approach School in Franklin, TN. It is geared more to the bench jeweler. If you don’t intend to be a bench jeweler, it may not be for you. However, there are so many useful tips throughout the week for jewelry designers, bench jeweler, artisans, smith’s, etc

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I have seen Blaine Lewis demonstrate, which led me to buy his “Bezel & Flush Setting” DVD, which is good. I can also recommend Ann Cahoon’s DVD “How to Set Fancy Shaped Stones” from Interweave Press: Metalsmith Essentials: How to Set Fancy Shaped Faceted Stones Video Download | Jewelry, Video Downloads | Interweave

I am fortunate enough to live within driving distance of GIA’s Carlsbad, CA facility, and a few years ago I took their one-week Advanced Stone Setting class. It covered bead-and-bright plate setting, pavé setting, cluster setting, flush-setting fancy shapes, and channel setting. I am happy to have learned these techniques (although some of them had me crying in frustration at the end of the day), but the only one I have used since then is the flush-setting. That technique was my primary reason for taking the class. So be sure you understand what techniques will be covered in any class you are considering so you can decide if it is worth it to you.

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Hi Bernie,

I would strongly recommend trying to find a local setter whose work you admire and getting them to teach you privately. This would be much more efficient and much more cost-effective.

  1. You would have full, personal attention and could progress at your own rate.
  2. You save travel and board expenses.
  3. You wouldn’t have to take off from work.
  4. Since they are local, you could make the rounds and see their works-in-progress before choosing.
  5. Perhaps the biggest bonus: you would have time to practice step x before going on to step y (by meeting with them, say, once a week). Practice is crucial with anything connected to graver work, so short, concentrated courses are not likely to oversee and develop this crucial skill adequately.
  6. It’s always good to have a local mentor for consultation in the future.

Judging by your photos, your work is super clean, so I am guessing you have a good enough eye to recognize a good setter, especially if you see his works-in-progress (essential!!!). The work should look good every step of the way–no choppy cuts that “get cleaned up later”! You should go to someone who can teach you to set with only very simple hand tools–you can always get fancy tools to speed up work later on, should you so desire. I learned from a real master–apart from drilling the original hole, no electrical tools were used! No burs in a flex shaft–everything was cut with hand-sharpened, hand-held gravers. Every cut was perfectly smooth and shiny and beautiful to behold --not just the finishing, final cuts. And his stones never fell out over time. You should probably look for someone old–or someone who learned from someone old…:-)…

Janet in Jerusalem


Thank you all for your great and insightful responses. I have a lot to think about. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom.

What Mark said is good advice. You will learn more at a busy shop working with other benchies than you will in any school at the stage you’re at. Where are you located? I am in need of someone at your skill level. If you have an interest in being paid to learn, PM me. We have a family owned retail design studio in Durham, NC.


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