As a professional jeweler who earned a bench jeweler diploma from the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts (http://www.revereacademy.com/), I find myself occasionally wanting to brush up on old skills, or gain new ones altogether. I learned basic stone setting at the academy and wanted to push those skills a little farther.
I had the opportunity to go to a week long session at the New Approach School for Jewelers (http://newapproachschool.com/) to study comprehensive stone setting. Some of the techniques would already be familiar but many would be new and tricky to learn! The instructor was well known for being excellent and he has taught thousands of students both in his school and via DVD instruction.
The instruction was solely on setting techniques. We did not create the jewelry that we set stones into. The techniques we learned were as follows:
Flush Setting. We set both colored and colorless stones. Colored stones often have a heavier base to saturate their color, so they need to be set slightly different from clear stones.
Gypsy and Heavy Walled Bezel Settings. In both cases you need to refine a seat for each stone prior to setting it. Both settings use a hammer and punch in order to move a fair amount of metal over the stone.
Bright Cut Setting. This techniques requires you to create a seat for the stone. Next, you set the stone by creating prongs to lock the stone in place. You then carve away the metal around the stone at an angle. Lastly, you can add a mill grain to finish to the edges.
Claw Prong, Traditional Prong and Square Stone Prong Settings. The ring on the left begins as a traditional prong setting that is then modified to create a talon like appearance to the prongs. The middle ring is a traditional, Tiffany style prong setting. The ring on the right is set by creating a seat within each prong to accommodate the square edges of the princess cut stone.
Regular Channel and Floating Channel Settings. In a regular channel setting, you create a seat for each stone in the floor of the channel, and with a hammer and punch, move the metal over the stones. In a floating channel setting you carve a precision seat in the walls of the channel. You then manipulate the stones into their seat. Lastly, you tighten the metal around the stones.
Gaining new skills is always an exciting challenge and a great opportunity to expand your creativity. I definitely recommend doing it!