Last week I spent a great 5 days at The School of Jewellery in Birmingham famous Jewellery Quarter learning to stone set.
I did my degree at this school and haven’t been back in almost 6 years, I think the last time I was there was to collect my results, so I felt a bit nervous on my way there.
I loved learning new skills on my degree but after 5 or 6 years working for myself I felt a bit worried that this might be a skill I was going to really struggle with. What if it turned out I was a terrible jeweller!
…Well needless to say I needn’t have worried, not only did I enjoy myself but I managed to learn a tonne of new skills, and successfully made much more than I thought I could in just 5 days.
Taught by a friendly and encouraging tutor Nigel Yates, the course was a relaxed but detailed introduction to the basics of stone setting. A class of 9 meant we all had our own work space, a friendly mix of designer makers, apprentices and hobby jewellers, and we could all get close enough to see Nigel demonstrate techniques that he made look so easy.
Before the course started we were given a tool list that I must admit I struggled to know what half the tools were, so I was relived that day one was all about getting to know our tools.
We shaped, sharpened and learned what each tool was for and when you would use it. I now have a full set of gravers and setting tools that I tailor made to fit in my hand perfectly.
Day two was more about getting to know our tools, we practiced mark making, raising grains (the bits that hold in the stone), accurate drilling, and engraving.
Day three we got our hands on some sparklers! Starting with Grain Setting we practiced setting stones into copper. I must admit I had tried this before and struggled to even move the metal, but with my new tool made just for me it was much easier and I was trilled with my first set stone. It’s wonky, a bit too big and needs much more refining, but that stone is IN and it’s not going anywhere!
We also tried our hands at flush setting, there is more to this setting than there looks, all the technical drilling and setting is all under the surface of the stone and Nigel taught us the ‘proper’ way rather than the cheats way for a secure stone that will last.
Day four was all about the claw setting, we learnt two different techniques for creating a seat for the stone and securely pushing the claws over the stone to hold it in place.
Starting with a 10 claw setting... then a much daintier 4 claw…
And a cute twisted 4 claw…
Finishing off with a beast of a cluster setting…
The cluster setting taught us new skills of cutting into he claw to create extra teeth to make the stone extra secure with a flat engraver. On the hottest day of the year this tested us, but we all managed it and only a little blood was shed- you learn pretty quick how not to hold a piece when you have sharp engraver pointing towards your hands!
The last day we learned how to deal with stones with horrible bits - aka corners!
Creating seats to protect the corners and settings to enhance the shape of the stone, these were my favourite of the week!
We finished the week with a channel setting, I haven’t quite finished this one yet but promise to share it with you when I have…
I would highly recommend this course to anyone thinking of giving it a go. It was really nice to learn and just make this last week without a customer commission to think of. As much as I love what I do it was nice to have a little break and fall in love with a new skill that I can bring into my work.
I will finish all these settings and clean them up and share some finished photos soon.
I bought some extra practice mounts to carry on learning with, so I will keep going until I am happy that I have refined my new skills ready for some new sparkly products for Louy Magroos.