You can't charge a customer $200 to set a $65

Hi Peter and others

When I ask a skilled mason to set stones on a masonry wall I
expect to pay a lot more for the labour than for the stones. If he
gives me a product like Michaelangelo I will pay a bonus. 

If this was facebook I would be clicking on the “like” button of
that post. In case I wasn’t clear in my first email.I can and I will
charge $200 for a $65 stone or more if I feel its warranted. Without
trying to sound like I have a higher than realistic impression of
myself I thinkmy charges of a minimum of $7 per stone for anything
up to.07ct and a minimum of $1.50 per point of weight after that is
actually quite reasonable. I have had more work than I know what to
do with and the only complaint I’ve ever had is that I’m not getting
the work done fast enough.

Until you have been a setter you have no idea of the pressure and
stress especially doingtop end pieces. I have a close friend who has
been making jewellery for 40 years. Recentlyhe did some setting for
the first time. At the end of the day he came to me and said “I had
no idea how emotionally draining it could be being a setter”. Its
true, being a maker of jewelleryis a very different process. I
should know because I have been doing both for many years.

When you are making jewellery the consequence for error is not
always, but “usually” is less of aconcern than when you are setting
a stone. Obviously except in the case of sizing rings with
expensivestones in them or any other obvious occurrence. Usually an
error when making a piece will only cost youin time lost. When
setting stones the consequence can the loss of huge amounts of money
regardlessof who is liable and the destruction of a reputation and
income. I have not experienced it myself butheard that other setters
have lost major trade clients and friendships over the breaking of
one stone.Try working with the possibility of that in the back of
your mind for very long.

Phil W

Thank you Phil for a new view of the work of setting. I don’t think
I had really thought that much about it - I suppose just viewing it
as “you are a setter, I am not”, but you surely make it clear about
the risk you are taking.

Albeit, mistakes in making jewelry can also be very costly not only
because of materials lost or damaged, but also emotionally. Granted,
most of the time you can repair or redo, but…who wants to have
to deal with that.

And bottom line is you choose what you choose, but thanks anyway for
your views which certainly brings your profession much to the fore.

And regarding your charges, I’d say “If they pay and come back, then
you are on track!”


Phil- Thanks for your comments.

A couple of years ago my sweetie Tim had to set a 17.24 ct D
colored, internally flawless diamond that sold for 3 million dollars.
It was simply gorgeous, you can see it on our web site.

When he was done he had to go for a very long walk and drink a whole
bunch of beer.

I once explained to a doctor that what we do, is like him going into
surgery everyday without malpractice insurance. Every time we set a
100,00 dollar stone we risk everything we own and worked for. He
blanched and then said quietly, “Oh, so that’s why you guys charge so

That’s why we charge between 75 and 100 dollars an hour for our
bench time.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer