Why are most bench jewelers so horribly incompetent?


Nov 19, 2014

The amount of shoddy work done is just mind boggling.

It's one reason why as a gemstone collector, I do not set my gemstones.

It is simply not worth the risk in my IMHO - especially considering that they only reason I acquire gems is too admire them and their natural beauty.


Getting the stones in a setting would enhance the beauty but since I have no intention of wearing it and the fact that loose gemstone's full beauty can't be seen sometimes in a setting it makes no sense for me to get them set.

A gemstone all by itself is timeless.


Aug 2, 2015
I'm a budding gemstone collector and I hear you. The fact of the matter is most, but not all jewelers are pretty bad, so you find ones that do a good job, and only use certain gemstones that you want to show off by wearing around.

No one is ever going to see them if you leave them loose and at home. Even a very simple setting like a gold necklace pendent would work.


Nov 19, 2003
This post made me laugh so hard I almost lost it. I've worked with a lot of bench jewelers, (not too surprising since I am one), and every one I've ever worked with thought that THEY were the best in the world. There was one who really was the best I've ever seen, but he didn't touch anything under maybe $5K and then it had to be a hard stone with low risk of damage.

The reality is that most bench jewelers are really good at the one thing they have had a lot of practice at. Some have done nothing but set diamonds for years and never had to repair anything. Some are repair people and can do most everything fairly well. Some are good when left alone with a LOT of time to do the work and LOTS of jewelers are moving so fast that it's just not possible to do really good work.

Then there is the problem of what one defines as "Good Work". There are a lot of people who are experts and have yet to pick up a torch or try to make anything at all, yet complain to high heaven whenever they have something done, no matter how good it is,(not talking about you goldstein). No matter who does the work it's never going to be good enough and to those people I would advise that they keep their collection in boxes.

If you are serious about having something done well then there are simple rules to follow:
1. Talk to the person who will be doing it. Ask questions which you think are pertinent to what "good work means" to you. This means things like, has the person set stones like you want to have set? Diamond setters will not be a good choice to set apatites. Do you care about things like polishing the interior surfaces in a ring? Then you'd better mention that and be willing to pay for it or it probably won't get done. Anything which matters to you should be mentioned, since everything takes time and doesn't get done unless a piece will be used for marketing images.
2. Look at their previous work. Looking at actual pieces is a good indicator of whether someone has mastered their craft. If you don't like how existing pieces are done, don't expect miracles.
3. Spell out exactly what you want to have done and, if YOU have never done this sort of work, realize that there are things you don't know that might impact how things are done or what they will cost.
4. Be willing to pay for the level of work that you want. This is something that many people ignore, thinking that everything should be done to museum quality, even if they're just having a stone set into a $200 commercial setting. If you want well proportioned, quality, custom work it is not going to be had for commercial level prices no matter how much you talking you do. Sure, you can always find someone who'll claim themselves to be grand and cheap, but that doesn't mean it'll turn out that way.
5. Have a test piece made to your specifications first. This is really important if you're doing something that is critical to you. Having a test piece, (meaning not as important to you), done first, will separate the doers from the talkers.


Apr 22, 2004
Why? Because the market pushes diamonds as the ultimate engagement ring stone. It doesn't take much skill to set diamonds compared to the softer hands required to set coloured stones. This is why I send all my CS all over the country to be set. My local jewellers either do not have the skill or are ridiculously expensive. I also only send my CS to a select few whose skill I trust. The full beauty of a gem is enhanced by a setting and best admired in a ring. Not sure I want to carry the gem case everywhere or drop a loose stone on a hard surface. :lol:


Apr 2, 2006
I've seen beautiful settings here on PS, and at certain local jewelers. There are several local jewelers I'd absolutely trust with any stone and design. (I live in a med-large market.) They're generally more expensive than the corner jeweler, but not necessarily the best-known or glitziest of the locals. I've reached my conclusion as a result of being in these stores regularly, talking with the staff and designers, and entrusting them with smaller repair jobs. There are also jewelers I wouldn't trust with even fairly simple repairs. :wink2:

As to setting a stone versus leaving it unset - it I do enjoy looking at and playing with my small collection of unset colored gemstones. Originally cost was the major obstacle to getting stones set. More recently, it's mainly the fact that I enjoy wearing my diamonds and don't tend to wear my colored stones much these days.
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