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Defining “high end” vs “low end” settings in your opinion

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
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Apr 22, 2020
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1,724
Rfisher’s post about prongs got me thinking about this. What is your cutoff for “high end” settings, ie, the point that you start becoming more exacting and persnickety in your demands?

Are you more fussy when settings are above a certain price threshold? What is that threshold for you? (since this will depend on prices where you buy jewelry. In India, where I get all of my jewelry, a simple solitaire setting is around $90-95 in labour costs - gold cost is extra - for a fully handforged setting from a mid/high end but not “designer” jeweler. Cast settings would be a bit cheaper I would assume.)

Does the method of crafting the ring matter - ie you have higher expectations from handforged jewelry compared to cast?

Does the reputation/popularity matter - ie holding a super ideal diamond vendor to a higher standard than you would a typical diamond online retailer; not because the former is a “settings expert” but because they have this reputation for selling a premium product?

For me, I think what defines my expectations is just price. If the labour cost is “high” I have higher expectations, and if the person selling is a “designer” or well known my expectations are sky-high though hopefully not out of touch with reality.

let’s hear your opinions!
 

Sprinkles&Stones

Brilliant_Rock
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May 19, 2020
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This is gonna be interesting, I can't wait to see poeple's responses
 

ProfessorBling

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 29, 2012
Messages
108
This is a great question. My thoughts for now are higher end = quality, not necessarily price.

If one of the bench workers from Tiffany, HW or even LM creates a setting for you using the same tools, hands, skill and experience as they would working at a company, would that be considered high end if they charged 1/4 of the price?

Does high end relate to brand name?

I will be back here for more! :)
 

Rockdiamond

Ideal_Rock
Trade
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Jan 7, 2009
Messages
8,762
Different markets make this a difficult question to answer.
Manufacturing in India costs a fraction of manufacturing in NYC, for example.
There are advantages to both......
Based on the ability to work closely with the bench, we prefer to manufacture close to home, even though it does cost more.
 

Karl_K

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Aug 4, 2008
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11,704
low end: mass production silver and gold and occasionally plat fly weight settings that are mass produced. Many maul store settings. Low cost online settings. Basicaly if it costs less than stuller there is a good chance it falls into the category.

Medium range: stuller is king of the middle.
serviceable settings that can last a lifetime. With a little cleanup work can be much better than out of the box.

Medium pretenders that claim to be high end: A lot of brand name settings are no higher than med often with a high end price tag. The start out high end to gain a name then expand or sell out to other companies with lower quality settings.

Medium to high: many store brand custom pieces fall into this range as well as most designer pieces that are not pretenders.

Todays Highend: Highly skilled craftsman producing superior goods in low volume. Once they hit it big it always slips down the rankings.

True high end:
Unobtanium these days for the most part this is the high bucks Tiffany and Cartier as well as a few others of the golden ages of bling.
If your spending 10 million buck's with them on a piece you might get close to that range today.
Then again maybe not as there may be no one there capable of doing the work.

Just my opinion, some will very strongly disagree.
 

Sprinkles&Stones

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 19, 2020
Messages
1,048
For me, I base my "high end" vs "not high end" jewelry based on the stone quality and price.

If I am spending thousands on a stone, I expect the quality of the gold smithing to match.

If I am going to go the moissy route or a lower quality gemstone, I will go with a vendor off Etsy who will get the job done but I don't expect the setting to be "top notch".

I currently have a project with Wolf CBI right now. Because of the purchase price, I am expecting (and will undoubtably get) a ring made with the highest quality gold-smithing possible that will probably outlast me.
 

Bron357

Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Jan 22, 2014
Messages
5,505
Personally I have no desire to purchase “name” jewellery. I don’t feel the added premium is worth it for the “name”.
My niece recently purchased a two clover VCA ring in gold and onyx. It’s beautiful and she paid over $10,000 AUD. Given that the gold content is modest and it’s only onyx I feel that the price is outrageous. Especially seeing as Etsy sells “look a likes” for $60 odd.
I would and do pay extra for a “one off” original or a piece made to my specifications. And I would want to see past work to judge quality and expertise of the bench. If I’m paying top dollar I expect top quality.
When it comes to settings in general, Im happiest buying pre loved due to the cost savings. I also would be happy with a cast setting provided the price was right and it suited my requirements.
I’m not a particularly fussy buyer and I match my expectations to the price point.
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Aug 14, 2009
Messages
23,040
Ditto, this is a great question! I rather think they’re two separate questions, actually.

For me - the more I pay the more precision and attention to detail I expect, in terms of both design and execution, for a given style. Example - I will hold a vendor with whom I spend $3k on a plain metal setting to a much higher standard than a vendor with whom I spend $1k on a similar mount; I would not, however, expect exceptional workmanship from a vendor with whom I spend $3k on a setting that’s dripping with pave - for that sort of mount my expectation for a superior product probably starts around $8-10k? And I’m personally more forgiving of execution imperfection than design flaws, though I appreciate fine workmanship and will happily pay for it.

I have a number of branded pieces as well as a number of unbranded pieces, both stock items and custom designs. For the most part my branded pieces cost a lot more and workmanship does not improve commensurately (like, by any stretch of the imagination): Many of my smaller designer pieces are both more complex in design and more precisely executed than nearly all of my #BigBrand pieces! But they’re all designs that I love and I have a zero tolerance policy for knock-offs, so here we are.

I will say that once upon a time I bought into the “handforged is bestforged” mantra. PS really really really needs to let that go. Fully-handforged is absolutely not best for all styles and I have the empty mounts to prove it. Nowadays my preference and recommendation is simply whatever manufacturing method(s) my trusted vendor thinks will work best ::)
 

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
1,724
This is a great question. My thoughts for now are higher end = quality, not necessarily price.

If one of the bench workers from Tiffany, HW or even LM creates a setting for you using the same tools, hands, skill and experience as they would working at a company, would that be considered high end if they charged 1/4 of the price?

Does high end relate to brand name?

I will be back here for more! :)

That’s a great point - I personally would consider that a high end piece, because it’s been made by those same well trained talented craftsmen. Just available at a significant discount :D


Different markets make this a difficult question to answer.
Manufacturing in India costs a fraction of manufacturing in NYC, for example.
There are advantages to both......
Based on the ability to work closely with the bench, we prefer to manufacture close to home, even though it does cost more.

oh absolutely, that’s actually why I specified my jewelry market when I mentioned the price. It will not scale for a US comparison. But also I don’t understand US pricing at all, because I have never bought there. So it’s a way for me to understand when I read threads and there are people talking about eg $400-500 setting is this a low or high end setting to calibrate my expectations accordingly, if that makes sense.
 

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
1,724
low end: mass production silver and gold and occasionally plat fly weight settings that are mass produced. Many maul store settings. Low cost online settings. Basicaly if it costs less than stuller there is a good chance it falls into the category.

Medium range: stuller is king of the middle.
serviceable settings that can last a lifetime. With a little cleanup work can be much better than out of the box.

Medium pretenders that claim to be high end: A lot of brand name settings are no higher than med often with a high end price tag. The start out high end to gain a name then expand or sell out to other companies with lower quality settings.

Medium to high: many store brand custom pieces fall into this range as well as most designer pieces that are not pretenders.

Todays Highend: Highly skilled craftsman producing superior goods in low volume. Once they hit it big it always slips down the rankings.

True high end:
Unobtanium these days for the most part this is the high bucks Tiffany and Cartier as well as a few others of the golden ages of bling.
If your spending 10 million buck's with them on a piece you might get close to that range today.
Then again maybe not as there may be no one there capable of doing the work.

Just my opinion, some will very strongly disagree.

Very interesting Karl! I absolutely would love to feast my eyes on that unobtanium one day :D

I think going by this description most of what I buy falls in the ‘medium to high’ category, which I’m happy with.
 

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
1,724
For me, I base my "high end" vs "not high end" jewelry based on the stone quality and price.

If I am spending thousands on a stone, I expect the quality of the gold smithing to match.

If I am going to go the moissy route or a lower quality gemstone, I will go with a vendor off Etsy who will get the job done but I don't expect the setting to be "top notch".

I currently have a project with Wolf CBI right now. Because of the purchase price, I am expecting (and will undoubtably get) a ring made with the highest quality gold-smithing possible that will probably outlast me.

That’s actually super interesting. Does that mean that when you buy a more expensive stone you are willing to shell out more for the setting as well? Or the setting price doesn’t change much but your expectations from that premium vendor is higher than the non premium vendor?


I care mostly about quality and design, less about designers and brands. For me, high end utilizes platinum or 18K gold as well!

Same here! Not much of a branded person. I love very very few iconic pieces but that’s it. Also, I agree on this - I have a few 14kt gold pieces but by and large my preference is 18kt or higher gold. That’s the Indian in me.
Personally I have no desire to purchase “name” jewellery. I don’t feel the added premium is worth it for the “name”.
My niece recently purchased a two clover VCA ring in gold and onyx. It’s beautiful and she paid over $10,000 AUD. Given that the gold content is modest and it’s only onyx I feel that the price is outrageous. Especially seeing as Etsy sells “look a likes” for $60 odd.
I would and do pay extra for a “one off” original or a piece made to my specifications. And I would want to see past work to judge quality and expertise of the bench. If I’m paying top dollar I expect top quality.
When it comes to settings in general, Im happiest buying pre loved due to the cost savings. I also would be happy with a cast setting provided the price was right and it suited my requirements.
I’m not a particularly fussy buyer and I match my expectations to the price point.

I get what you mean about the price of branded jewelry relative to materials. It definitely holds me back, even though the craftsmanship is often great (though I have seen independent jewelers occasionally do better imo. Also, matching expectations to price point makes sense and is the “fairest” way to think about things.
 

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
1,724
My setting cost the least ($310 bucks) among all PSers. I'm in the low end category.

I think I could give you a run for your money, but that’s definitely a labour market difference! I gather that $300 is pretty cheap for the US.


Ditto, this is a great question! I rather think they’re two separate questions, actually.

For me - the more I pay the more precision and attention to detail I expect, in terms of both design and execution, for a given style. Example - I will hold a vendor with whom I spend $3k on a plain metal setting to a much higher standard than a vendor with whom I spend $1k on a similar mount; I would not, however, expect exceptional workmanship from a vendor with whom I spend $3k on a setting that’s dripping with pave - for that sort of mount my expectation for a superior product probably starts around $8-10k? And I’m personally more forgiving of execution imperfection than design flaws, though I appreciate fine workmanship and will happily pay for it.

I have a number of branded pieces as well as a number of unbranded pieces, both stock items and custom designs. For the most part my branded pieces cost a lot more and workmanship does not improve commensurately (like, by any stretch of the imagination): Many of my smaller designer pieces are both more complex in design and more precisely executed than nearly all of my #BigBrand pieces! But they’re all designs that I love and I have a zero tolerance policy for knock-offs, so here we are.

I will say that once upon a time I bought into the “handforged is bestforged” mantra. PS really really really needs to let that go. Fully-handforged is absolutely not best for all styles and I have the empty mounts to prove it. Nowadays my preference and recommendation is simply whatever manufacturing method(s) my trusted vendor thinks will work best ::)

thank you, and also for weighing in! Absolutely agreed that price expectations have to be set according to the style you go for as pave, side stones etc will also have the cost of the diamonds and added labour to set all the stones built in. It does however boggle the mind that a really well made high end pave setting is $8-10k in the US!!
I don’t know how things work in the US but in India - at least the jewelers I have been to - if your setting is a complex custom design, you are invited to examine and give your okay on the piece before it is polished and stones are set. This is when design flaws can be identified and corrected. So that has happened rarely for me. Also, I do agree that sometimes handforging isn’t the best way forward - I also would let the vendor take those decisions :)
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
23,040
Your post has me really curious. I have a fair amount of Indian jewellery but the vast majority of it is older... only two pieces made within the past decade-ish.

My Indian jewellery (and my immediate family’s jewellery) tends to be very complex in design but workmanship and quality of finish is just very clearly not the priority. But I freely admit I might not be looking at the right examples because no one in my family cares at all about precision in jewellery manufacture!

Do you have any IG accounts or blogs or websites I could look at for examples of Indian jewellers who specialize in fine make?
 

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
1,724
Your post has me really curious. I have a fair amount of Indian jewellery but the vast majority of it is older... only two pieces made within the past decade-ish.

My Indian jewellery (and my immediate family’s jewellery) tends to be very complex in design but workmanship and quality of finish is just very clearly not the priority. But I freely admit I might not be looking at the right examples because no one in my family cares at all about precision in jewellery manufacture!

Do you have any IG accounts or blogs or websites I could look at for examples of Indian jewellers who specialize in fine make?

Oh I should probably clarify that I wasn’t talking about traditional Indian jewelry, but about western style jewelry made in India. Traditional jewelry can also be very finely finished - but it’s not as common especially because polki etc have irregular shapes.

In general I think the best jewelers in India tend to not advertise or have any real Instagram presence. I know my jeweler works entirely on word of mouth basis. I have seen some really beautiful work by these kinds of jewelers. I know they definitely exist in big cities (Delhi Mumbai Calcutta). Jaipur is a big jewelry hub so there as well (particularly for Indian jewelry). So I can’t point you to a specific place to check out the “hidden gems”.

Instagram jewelry pages I love off the top of my head: The Gem Palace Jaipur (thegempalace) and Sabyasachi jewelry. But both of these are “brands” and therefore more expensive. I think Gem Palace > Sabya though. I’ve had the opportunity to go to Gem Palace and I believe the pieces in real life are more beautifully made than even the photos show. I could give you names of other “high end” stores that would have social media presence but I think their finishing, while still excellent, is not “sublime” - but I’m also willing to admit that perhaps the standard in the US etc is just that much higher that I can’t even comprehend and I’m not doing an apples to apples comparison!
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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23,040
Thanks! I’ll check the two you mentioned out. Understood re. Hidden gems not really have much social media presence - a lot of cultural infrastructure needs to be prerequisite for IG to be a useful sales tool, I can easily see this not being the case in many parts of the world.
 
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