Jewellers and setters are very different trades even though they are connected to the same industry. Just as plumbers and electricians are separate trades but connected to the building trade, so too are jewellers and setters unique. Jewellers are involved in the construction of the ring, while setters are the ones responsible for securing the stones. While some jewellers can set stones, it is usually best to leave it to a professional gem setter.
In Brisbane to become a jeweller, you must complete a four year apprenticeship under a fully qualified jeweller. As in all apprenticeships, apprentices of the appropriate age are able to receive a learning wage, which makes it economical for the employer to train them. In their 4 years, apprentices should learn all the basic techniques of making simple rings and carrying out repairs. At present, and at least for the next few years you are able to complete your jewellery apprenticeship in Brisbane. However due to falling numbers at Tafe and reduced government funding the future of jewellery apprenticeship scheme seems uncertain.
Why do you need a hand made jeweller ?
Jewellery that is made especially for a particular stone is always going to be better than an “off the shelf” setting that is trying to be squeezed or stretched to fit the stone. This is especially important in three stone settings, where it is vital that the stones overlap. A professional jeweller, must not only make sure that the stones and claws are positioned in the correct places, but the shoulder stones must be angled correctly to create a pleasing level appearance. When a jeweller is making a ring, they are constantly making adjustments to improve the aesthetics of the ring, something that is impossible to do in CAD or mass produced style rings. Metal that has been hammered is also always harder and tougher than cast metal. A mass produced ring, has very little room for modification, because all the pieces are set in their current positions.
In Brisbane there is currently no provision for completing a setters apprenticeship. In England, a setters apprenticeship is normally five years. However here there is no such apprenticeship for setters, neither is there any subsidy for employers to train setters. Consequently there are no new setters being trained. The only new setters entering our industry are those that have traveled here from overseas, or are jewellers that have crossed over to become full time setters.
What exactly do setters do ? and why are they so important ?
Setters are crucial to maintaining the highest quality finish of a piece. Even if the ring is expertly hand crafted, if it is set poorly, the finished ring will look terrible. It is the setters job, to ensure that the stones are not only secured correctly and tightly into the ring, but they are also set level and straight. Stones that are not securely are prone to coming loose and falling out over time. If the shoulder diamonds have not been set well, there may be gaps between the stones. Channel set rings, will not have straight bright cuts (the inside lines between the stone and the metal) , and their may be gaps at the end of the channel. This will become noticeable as the rings become dirty, as the dirt often gets trapped in the gaps. It goes without saying that the centre stone should be properly set. Poorly set centre stones, will not only through off the symmetry of the ring, if they are not set in the middle, but they can also be prone to coming loose, and if not regularly checked – lost. Another symptom of a stone that hasn’t been set correctly is catching of threads under the claws. A properly set stone should be nice and smooth on top, and have no gap between the stone and the claw. If you are finding that your clothes are catching on your claws, simply bring them into us, and we can secure the claws correctly on your stone.
At Xennox Diamonds, we have full time jewellers and a setter, to make sure there is never any compromise in the finished product. Our standard for choosing to only work with the best diamonds and metals, applies to our jewellers and setter too, to ensure that you will receive enjoyment from your treasured piece for many years to come. If you are finding your are having problems with your setting, please don’t hesitate to email us, or pop in for a free inspection.