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Setting The Center Stone?


jalkelly
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Hello all, quick question that I was wondering about today regarding having a diamond set in a ring. For this example lets say it is a round brilliant and there is nothing tricky or fancy that needs to be taken into consideration as far as the setting is concerned. If you have jewler A and jewler B, would they both set the stone in the same spot, will you essentially get the same result? Is there much margin for error or is it similar to getting your cars oil changed? I know you usually get what you pay for. I have purchased a stone from an online wholesaler and the ring from a pretty big chain. Just wondering if a place like Jared's jewler will do the job just as well as somewhere a little more upscale.

 

Thanks for any advice!

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Every diamond setter is different. Some do quality work and some don`t. It depends on the skill level and amount of effort put into doing the job well.

 

From my experience changing oil on a car is an easier task for most and requires less time and skill than setting diamonds.

 

Check out examples of their work, and see if it is up to your satisfaction.

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Most medium sized jewelry stores have a jack-of-all-trades benchman that does all setting and repairs. Some have 2 or 3 or more people working on the bench, but that doesn't mean there is one diamond setter expert among the group even though probabilities begin to rise when you see more bench jewelers.

 

For the most part setting your basic 4-prong head is no big deal but if it's not done right, it will cause problems.

 

Personally I don't like the idea of having one benchman, or 2 or even 3 in the store, thats why when I got my store I decided it would be smaller with no bench. I prefer to send out all my jewelry for repairs to specialists. I have 3-4 excellent diamond setters I work with, and even within them, one is better with bezels, one is better with pave, etc. I have several good casters, a dozen or so good smiths, each of them that do certain things better then others, a very good hand engraver, a designer who makes custom tension rings, etc, etc. So if you want it done right unfortunately you need to find someone experienced and very good at what they do, and that usually is not a jack-of-all-trades type of benchie. But if it's a very simple type setting or some easy ring size job, etc it's usually not too big of a deal.

 

One way to check your ring is loose or not is to take it and shake it by your ear.... if you hear something jingle, then it's loose. It could jingle even if it seems secure to you. So try the jingle test every few months or so just to be sure for peace of mind.

Edited by Adylon
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The place where you bought the ring would be a good place to start looking for the labor.

 

Setting isn’t generally all that difficult but takes a remarkable amount of practice to get really good at it. At least 80% of the full time professional jewelers do what I would call a marginally acceptable job or worse. Some are quite a bit worse.

 

I’ve actually found the small to medium stores where the guy at the bench is the one whose name is on the sign out front tend to be pretty good paces for work. Commercial bench work, where you work in a sweatshop doing repairs for dozens of stores can be a soul crushing experience for craftsmen who really take price in their work. I think it’s more comparable to chefs than oil changers. That cook at the Denny’s may be highly skilled, but I think your chances of getting a really fine meal go up if you visit a restaurant where the chef’s name is proudly announced on the marquise. If you’ve invested thousands of dollars in the parts, and the difference between a superb job and a crappy job is $50 or even $100 in setting fees, frankly this seems like a bad place to go with the low cost bidder.

 

You may find it difficult to find a skilled jeweler who is willing to accept the job you have in mind, namely setting a stone they didn't sell into a mounting they didn't sell. There is a certain amount of risk and ongoing liability to the jeweler associated with this and if this is paired with hammering the price to the lowest common denominator, the good ones will simply drop out of the bidding.

 

Neil

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And I am 100% the other direction from Adylon.. I can't imagine using a "jeweler" that doesn't do their own work.. There are many fine trade shops out there, and they do great work.. But I have never seen it last.. By outsourcing you lose the immediate pride issue..

 

A store's goal is to do their best for you every single time.. While a trade shop is more focused on turn and volume to survive.. We have 3 full time bench jewelers here, and 2 more of us that can take over the basics such as sizings and the like while the full time guys focus on making the new jewelry.. And each of them has one or two things that they absolutely specialize in and get all of that type of work..

 

But we aren't a "typical" jewelry store since better than 40% of our sales are custom work that we design and craft in house..

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Both Neil and Steve make excellent points. Buying a diamond from one Jeweler and having it set by a second jeweler can be problematic.

 

Outsourcing results in a lack of quality control.

 

Another problem is when customers have their ring manufactured by one jeweler and then their diamond set by a second jeweler. If the second jeweler screws up the setting job he will invariably blame the first jeweler for not manufacturing the setting correctly. This may or may not be true but the bottom line is that the customer is dissatisfied and correcting the problem invariably comes with extra costs, hassles, and aggravation.

 

Optimally you want to purchase your diamond and setting from the same jeweler. Do your homework about the quality of their setting work, Customer Service and Store Policies. If it is a Custom Setting make sure you understand the specific policies and conditions attendant to this kind of work, fees, and conditions which will differ significantly from standard generic settings.

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Good points Barry, Steve and Neil!

 

Put it this way- we can pay less than $5 to set a 2 carat diamond- yet we routinely spend around $50.

 

Rather than have a shop in our office we have very close arrangements with a few factories- so much so they have become totally dedicated to our work.

 

The point is, we've discovered by trial and error who to use and who to avoid.

We totally avoid the $2 guys...but how would you to know who to avoid, and who to trust?

 

If you've selected a dealer for purchasing your diamond, it would seem you've already established a level of trust.....why not go with that?

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And I am 100% the other direction from Adylon.. I can't imagine using a "jeweler" that doesn't do their own work.. There are many fine trade shops out there, and they do great work.. But I have never seen it last.. By outsourcing you lose the immediate pride issue..

 

A store's goal is to do their best for you every single time.. While a trade shop is more focused on turn and volume to survive.. We have 3 full time bench jewelers here, and 2 more of us that can take over the basics such as sizings and the like while the full time guys focus on making the new jewelry.. And each of them has one or two things that they absolutely specialize in and get all of that type of work..

 

But we aren't a "typical" jewelry store since better than 40% of our sales are custom work that we design and craft in house..

 

Hi Steve, I guess I'm spoiled living here in LA, I'm 15 minutes away from the jewelry district where there are hundreds of designers and thousands of bench jewelers all specializing in one thing or another. I can see how outsourcing would be a problem for a shop in the midwest or something. But quality control for me is no problem, I can pop in the designers office anytime to check on something, sketch out exactly what I want and make sure their design matches my concept, and ensure it's 100% perfect before it leaves downtown.

 

Something to note: Most Tiffany stores do not have bench jewelers, they send out all their repairs as well. Also a lot of the bridal in my store is desginer and I would not let any benchman touch, even the best. For example my Henrich Denzel line from Germany is made of a 95% platinum 5% wolfram (tungsten) alloy that's all forged (not cast). This makes it super hard with almost zero porosity. Everything is machined to perfection and there is not 1 square micrometer anywhere on that ring that is not polished. Even a simple finger resizing can be complicated with such an item and I would only let the original designer make such a modification. Most designers I work with won't even bother to size or repair some tricky items and will just replace the whole piece, rather then give back a ring that looks sized or repaired.

 

It's like a Ferrari, you can take it to the Ferrari dealership or you can take it to the local shop that specializes in repairing fine European cars. Even if the latter has mechanics that are former Ferrari employees and both have equally skilled workers, I just find it more comforting to let Ferrari deal with it. The Ferrari dealership will always have tools and engineering support at it's disposal that the shop may not. Then again if it's a Ford one need not worry about who's fixing it :)

Edited by Adylon
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I must say, speaking as a fairly compulsive person who is proudly in the Midwest, some of the worst craftsmanship I’ve ever seen has come out of downtown LA. The fact that there are lots of people working there does NOT mean that they are all skilled. To be sure there are some skilled folks but if anything, I see the opposite happening with the bulk because so many find that they have to produce at such a high volume and for such low wages that quality of workmanship is the very last thing on their minds. I’ve hired dozens of jewelers for full time employment and interviewed and tested more than a hundred over the course of my career and one consistently bad sign on a resume is if they put in any significant time in downtown LA. Maybe it’s just that the good ones aren’t out here in flyover country looking for work but, personally, I’m not impressed with the collective training that’s going on out there. More is not the same as better.

 

Neil

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I must say, speaking as a fairly compulsive person who is proudly in the Midwest, some of the worst craftsmanship I’ve ever seen has come out of downtown LA. The fact that there are lots of people working there does NOT mean that they are all skilled. To be sure there are some skilled folks but if anything, I see the opposite happening with the bulk because so many find that they have to produce at such a high volume and for such low wages that quality of workmanship is the very last thing on their minds. I’ve hired dozens of jewelers for full time employment and interviewed and tested more than a hundred over the course of my career and one consistently bad sign on a resume is if they put in any significant time in downtown LA. Maybe it’s just that the good ones aren’t out here in flyover country looking for work but, personally, I’m not impressed with the collective training that’s going on out there. More is not the same as better.

 

Neil

 

 

LA has it's issues... there are lots of illegal immigrants from many ethnic backgrounds that are overworked/underpaid by small shops and they churn out zales quality stuff all day long. But the big designers don't put up with any of that BS. NY has more diamond dealers but we have more designers (better designers if you ask me :) ) If you know who to work with, that's all that matters.

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But the big designers don't put up with any of that BS. NY has more diamond dealers but we have more designers (better designers if you ask me ;) ) If you know who to work with, that's all that matters.

 

Us small designers in the midwest (well, not really all that small when you consider some of the single sale dollars we deal with) with our own shops don't put up with it either.. Our internal apprentice program is pretty intense and the training never ever stops..

 

And yes, it's all about the cars.. :)

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But the big designers don't put up with any of that BS. NY has more diamond dealers but we have more designers (better designers if you ask me ;) ) If you know who to work with, that's all that matters.

 

Us small designers in the midwest (well, not really all that small when you consider some of the single sale dollars we deal with) with our own shops don't put up with it either.. Our internal apprentice program is pretty intense and the training never ever stops..

 

And yes, it's all about the cars.. :)

 

One thing that really bugs me, are online sellers who call themselves designers... Steve, I don't include you in that group, you're clearly a designer. But online any schmuck calls himself a designer and just has the peice outsourced. I've come up with plenty of original designs, have a design/engineering background but I never claim to be a designer, and I'm not ashamed to say I provided a sketch/concept and let a designer polish up my idea. It just kills me that someone slaps a head on a shank and calls it "custom" or "designer" or you see some of these online "designers' giving rings names like Magnifico and it's just a channel set ring or something, or even worse someone who steals a design from someone else and markets it as their own.... Anyhow that's just my pet peeve with "internet designers" the true designers of original art deserve real respect, I let the designers design and let the benchman bench. I know my role is the middle man, but I'm also very fussy about quality and I know my customers appreciate that.

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One thing that really bugs me, are online sellers who call themselves designers... Steve, I don't include you in that group, you're clearly a designer. But online any schmuck calls himself a designer and just has the peice outsourced. I've come up with plenty of original designs, have a design/engineering background but I never claim to be a designer, and I'm not ashamed to say I provided a sketch/concept and let a designer polish up my idea. It just kills me that someone slaps a head on a shank and calls it "custom" or "designer" or you see some of these online "designers' giving rings names like Magnifico and it's just a channel set ring or something, or even worse someone who steals a design from someone else and markets it as their own.... Anyhow that's just my pet peeve with "internet designers" the true designers of original art deserve real respect, I let the designers design and let the benchman bench. I know my role is the middle man, but I'm also very fussy about quality and I know my customers appreciate that.

 

I know what you mean.. Only I used to get bent out of shape by salesmen calling themselves jewelers :)

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\ If you know who to work with, that's all that matters.

This is the crux of the whole issue and the original question. How can a consumer choose who to work with?

 

One easy approach is to meet the craftsman, interview them, inspect samples of their work etc. This is MUCH easier in a store where the benchman is present and the showroom is full of examples of their work for sale. There’s no doubt that even in those stores you are putting a reliance on the management to choose, train and supervise workers to produce the quality of work you want and to properly represent what they're doing. After all, that person in the back may not have actually made the merchandise in the case. You’ve got to pay attention.

 

It’s not correct to say that Tiffany farms out their work. They maintain centralized shops where they do their own work but they keep them in different locations. Tiffany showrooms tend to be in very high rent locations and a well equipped shop can both be fairly large and pretty ‘industrial’ looking complete with the noise and dirt associated with a working facility. This isn’t really compatible with how they want their showrooms to look and they prefer to keep them separate but this is not evidence that your piece ever leaves their control when you leave it with them. They even do in-house most jobs like custom faceting of stones or hand engraving that the majority of stores, including most with well-equipped shops will job out.

 

There’s nothing conceptually wrong with using outside specialists and it is possible to do it well. It’s just that most stores and most of the contractors don’t. I’ll even agree that there are setters who prefer to work in an environment where someone else gets to deal with the clients, maintain the showroom, et.al. With many jobs, I dare say including a typical setting job, dealing with customers is actually the most difficult and time consuming work in the whole project. This is a very different skill set and being a talented benchman/woman doesn’t necessarily come with a good bedside manner or skills at thing like speaking the same language as the client or being the boss of a store full of other people. It can be frustrating to both the benchie and the client and it benefits both to have someone else involved. Good salespeople definitely earn their keep and good ones are quite valuable. The problem is that sometimes they aren’t and it's hard to tell the difference. Sometimes they lie. Sometimes they don’t know any better than the customer what to look for. Sometimes they choose and supervise the contractors using criteria that are in their own best interest instead of the clients. Things like who’s cheaper, who makes the fastest deliveries or who has the easiest payment terms. Somehow quality of work gets lost unless the customer notices and complains and, since most people are unaware of what to look for, complaints are actually pretty rare until a stone falls out or it shreds a $200 sweater. By then it’s someone else’s problem.

 

David's example is pretty good. If a jeweler pays $50 for a job and charges, say, $100 to include all of the legwork and assume the liability, he's treating his client well. What if he goes to the $2 guy and still charges $100? As a shopper, you have no way of knowing the difference unless theres a problem. So how do you know if there's a problem if you aren't skilled at it yourself unless the problem is so bad that it's immediately obvious to the untrained eye (most aren't)? The answer is that you are trusting the dealer to tell you. He's supposed to inspect it before giving it to you and if there's anything wrong hes supposed to deal with it. That's part of what his $50 share is paying for. If he just doesn't do his part, he gets to pocket $98 instead of $50, he has less work to do and most people won't notice the difference. If a problem comes up later he can blame it on the consumer, on some other jeweler, on bad luck or whatever. YOU must have broken it. Did you have it sized or even cleaned somewhere else? THEY must have broken it. It fell out because of wear and tear, talk to your insurer about it. Sorry about your sweater, didn't you know that all rings do that? It says right there in 2pt. type on the back of the receipt that we take no responsibility for our work. Next! The list of possible excuses is nearly endless and this too is a different skill set although probably not what you thought you were getting into. People who are not experts themselves have a nearly impossible task to separate a load of crap from the facts. (After all, maybe you really did break it. :) )

 

Neil

Edited by denverappraiser
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