Diamond setters add diamonds to pieces of jewellery such as rings, bracelets and earrings.
What is the work like?
Diamonds are precious stones which are highly prized and valued. They are cut and polished to show off their colour and light-reflecting qualities. Although diamonds also have industrial uses, they are a popular choice for jewellery.
When a diamond is added to a piece of jewellery, it's held in place by the mount, created by a jewellery mounter. Jewellery using diamonds is most commonly made of precious metals such as gold, silver or platinum.
Diamond setters may also create their own pieces in which to set diamonds.
The mount needs to hold the diamond securely, and show it off to best effect. A piece of jewellery may have one, several or many diamonds, and there may be other precious stones too. Diamonds can also be set into other accessories, such as watches.
The setting for the diamond depends on its size, its shape, and the effect required for the finished piece of jewellery.
Diamond setters specialise in affixing diamonds and gems to jewellery.
What is the job like?
Diamond setters use special tools to fit diamonds into jewellery pieces. Some are traditional, such as beading tools, prong lifters, bezel rollers and tweezers. Others make use of modern technology such as microscopes.
All the tools are precision-made as the work itself needs to be very precise.
Some diamond setters work for a jewellery shop or company. Others are self-employed and have their own workshop.
Self-employed diamond setters may do setting work for other jewellers and jewellery companies. They may also create their own pieces in which to set diamonds.
How do I become a diamond setter?
As well as being interested in diamonds and jewellery, you need to be:
- very good with your hands
- able to work on a small scale
- patient and methodical
- able to work with precision and accuracy.
If you work in a jewellery shop or a jewellery workshop, you need to be able to follow instructions and work from design plans, either CAD (computer-aided design) or hand-drawn.
If you are creating your own pieces, you will need design skills and creative ability. You need to keep up with trends in jewellery and/or have knowledge and appreciation of traditional designs.
You need to be able to work with precision and accuracy.
If you are dealing with the public, you need to have customer service skills. If you are designing your own pieces of jewellery, you need to be able to explain your creative ideas to customers.
If you are self-employed, you need business skills so you can market your goods and services, deal with finances and develop your business.
What qualifications and training do I need?
There are courses which allow you to study in different ways. Some diamond setters have studied gemmology while others come into it via other routes.
Gem A (the Gemmological Association of Great Britain) offers a Gemmology foundation course which covers gemstones, including diamonds. The course includes gem setting. There are no entry requirements for the foundation course.
If you want further knowledge about diamonds and/or other precious stones, Gem A offers:
Gem A courses can be studied through:
- day or evening classes (in London)
- distance learning (online)
- blended learning (a mix of online and classes).
Gem A also offers short courses and workshops for experienced setters to update their knowledge and skills.
The Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) also has Diploma courses, which can be studied either at classes in London or by distance learning.
If you want to design and create the jewellery as well as setting diamonds, you can study jewellery, goldsmithing, silversmithing or jewellery design. There are degree courses throughout the UK, including:
- the School of Jewellery at Birmingham City University (there is also an HND)
- Plymouth College of Art
- the Royal College of Art, London.
Holts Academy of Jewellery also offers diplomas in Jewellery Manufacture at Levels 2, 3 and 4. They also offer apprenticeships in Jewellery Manufacture. Both include gem setting.
Some courses have entry requirements, such as two A levels (or equivalent) for degree courses. You will also need to show a portfolio of your work.
As well as English and maths, art and design or design and technology (resistant materials) are useful subjects.
As a preparation for a degree, there are BTEC courses which may be useful, including:
- National Diploma in Design Crafts (Precious Metals and Gemstones)
- Award in Stonesetting.
What can I earn?
A highly-skilled, experienced diamond setter can earn up to £60,000 per year.
If you are self-employed, you set your own prices. What you earn depends on the amount of business you do and how you develop your business. You decide whether to charge customers a fixed fee for a job, or an hourly rate.