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Bench Jewelers

Carlowen

Rough_Rock
Joined
Dec 3, 2015
Messages
5
How does one find a good bench jeweler? What are the questions to ask? Is there certifications or associations they should be members of?
What is a fair or expected price per hour for work?
I'm thinking of having someone make an 18Ct. white gold tennis bracelet with about forty .23-.24 ct diamonds. of E-F color and ideal cut.
If I were to price this at a reputable jeweler, it will cost in the neighborhood of $25,000 on the low end and in the case of Tiffany, close to double that. That said, I don't want some clown who only does simple engagement settings or class rings to undertake such an effort, I guess you could say I'm looking for a pro.
I think with a little time and effort I could save a lot of dough. But not sure how to proceed. I've already sourced the diamonds, they are very similar in table, depth cut etc.
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
31,792
Carlowen|1449422441|3958243 said:
How does one find a good bench jeweler? What are the questions to ask? Is there certifications or associations they should be members of?
What is a fair or expected price per hour for work?
I'm thinking of having someone make an 18Ct. white gold tennis bracelet with about forty .23-.24 ct diamonds. of E-F color and ideal cut.
If I were to price this at a reputable jeweler, it will cost in the neighborhood of $25,000 on the low end and in the case of Tiffany, close to double that. That said, I don't want some clown who only does simple engagement settings or class rings to undertake such an effort, I guess you could say I'm looking for a pro.
I think with a little time and effort I could save a lot of dough. But not sure how to proceed. I've already sourced the diamonds, they are very similar in table, depth cut etc.

IMO you may have made a mistake.

If I wanted a tennis bracelet I'd buy one already made.
I suspect a customer presenting the stones to a bench that they locate is not usual.
Like any manufacturing the most cost-effective systems result from what's usual.
A bench that does the same thing many times is likely to be better at it and likely to do it in less time.
I believe any bench you find will not be a bench that does this every day.
The benches that do this every day may not work for the public.
BTW, I believe they'd charge by the task, not by the hour.

Sure you can find a great bench who will do fine work.
Contact Leon Mege, Victor Cannera, Steven Kirsch, Mark Morrell, or a few others who people here love.
But they are NOT going to be cheaper than the labor folded into the cost of a ready-made tennis bracelet, like you want.
I'd bet the vast majority of tennis bracelets for sale in America were made outside USA where labor is cheaper.
It sounds like you are looking for a fine bench in America that will work for less than what a Chinese laborer makes.

Are you in a return period during which you can return the stones?

And when it comes to saving money what you are doing should cost more, not less.
Costs come down with scale, as in a bench making a higher quantity of tennis bracelets for whatever business is retailing them.
Doing something once costs more per unit.

Sure, what you're doing is possible and I wish you the best of luck.
But is it too late to return those diamonds?

Actually, I hope my suspicions are wrong and our pros speak up with more constructive advice for you. :wavey:
 

MollyMalone

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Messages
3,413
To answer a couple of your questions:
* Although I guess it's possible, I've never heard of a bench charging by the hour; rather, the price quotes are for the completed piece.

* The Jewelers of America trade association began offering several levels of bench jeweler certification about 15 years ago:
https://www.jewelers.org/benefits/education/certification/bench-jewelry/
https://www.jewelers.org/files/benchcert_guide.pdf
But the certification program doesn't seem to have "caught on" much; I'm not seeing a list of certified bench jewelers on the JA web site, which would make it easier to track them down; and I think the kind of work a bench is most experienced with -- plus the caliber of work like that which you want done (e.g., bezels sure aren't something that every bench does well) -- matters more than any piece of paper they might or might not have hanging on the wall.

* ID Jewelry and Brilliantly Engaged (both in NYC & PriceScope sponsors that most customers have been pleased with) will work with "outside" stones (i.e, stones furnished by customers) -- although BE's web site hasn't been showing any bracelets & I'm not seeing any pics on PS of BE bracelets. Here are some threads, with photos, of tennis bracelets IDJ has created, from stones IDJ themselves sourced:
[URL='https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/love-my-new-idj-tennis-bracelet.190938/']https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/love-my-new-idj-tennis-bracelet.190938/[/URL]
[URL='https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/bezel-tennis-bracelet-is-ready.183584/']https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/bezel-tennis-bracelet-is-ready.183584/[/URL]

A diamond bangle bracelet created by IDJ from the customer's own stones, taken from her former tennis bracelet:
[URL='https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/my-new-5-52-ctw-diamond-bangle-bracelet-custom-re-make.162277/']https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/my-new-5-52-ctw-diamond-bangle-bracelet-custom-re-make.162277/[/URL]

fwiw: IDJ's "stock" 10.50 total carat weight (with semi-bezeled F-G, SI1-SI2 diamonds) tennis bracelets in 18K white gold are currently priced on their web site at $11,900.
 

Michael_E

Brilliant_Rock
Trade
Joined
Nov 19, 2003
Messages
1,290
Carlowen|1449422441|3958243 said:
How does one find a good bench jeweler?
If you want a local person, then just visit shops who have bench jewelers on the premises. If you're going to do this online then the references given here will all be good...if they're interested in doing this.

What are the questions to ask?
Ask whatever interests you, but the main question would be, "May I see some examples of your work?" Talk is cheap and looking at images is better, but looking at samples in hand is better than anything since you can't fake quality.

Is there certifications or associations they should be members of?
Certifications and memberships are things that are generally achieved at the start of one's career and don't mean nearly as much as experience. The very best bench workers that I have ever seen had no certifications or memberships in anything except the school of experience, (with some undocumented training from older workers as they were coming up). Certifications are one step up from TALK as far as their value is concerned. LOOK at the work of whoever you choose and determine it's quality for yourself.

What is a fair or expected price per hour for work?
While the price estimate you receive may be determined by the time the worker estimates it will take, they are not going to honestly tell you what that is. This is because they need to cover added costs like overhead, tool depreciation, rent, etc., etc.. Just ask for an estimate and go with that since you can't micro-manage a top quality worker's time.

That said, I don't want some clown who only does simple engagement settings or class rings to undertake such an effort, I guess you could say I'm looking for a pro.
Whatever you do, DON'T take this attitude around with you when you're looking for someone to do this. I've met very few clowns doing this kind of work, since all of it takes a moderate amount of skill, (class rings being particularly complex if one is making them from scratch). Acting as if everyone is a clown until proven otherwise is a sure way to increase your cost estimates from everyone you encounter.
That said, the bulk of your project cost is in the diamonds. Making a bracelet is a very simple process in which the hallmarks of quality are more in the fit and finish of the piece rather than it's design. In fact there are a few companies who specialize in making bracelet settings for the trade which have acceptable fit, with the bench jeweler providing the stone setting and finish. If you're concerned about cost, this is the way to go. If you're not concerned about cost and want custom, please keep in mind that a bracelet of this sort uses about the same amount of gold and work as 5 or 6 rings, so $4K to $6K would not be out of line.

It sounds like a very nice project with a beautiful end result, make sure to post pictures when it's finished!
 

Carlowen

Rough_Rock
Joined
Dec 3, 2015
Messages
5
To All:

Thank you for the thoughtful replies. I will post on Monday to digest what has been written.
As for the "clown" comment, I agree it was uneccessary, It was an inelegant way of saying I do not want an amateur working on what will be a fairly expensive project.
 
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