Mounters make the framework of a piece of jewellery, in which stones can be set. The mounter has to create a piece of jewellery which is ready and suitable for the setter to place the stone in.
What do jewellery mounters do?
Mounters create the parts of jewellery which gems are then added to (by a gem or diamond setter). They usually work with metals, including gold, silver and platinum.
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. There may be other precious stones too.
In some cases the gemstone is chosen first, and the mount is made to fit that stone. In other cases, a mount is made and the stone is chosen, or cut, to fit.
What is the job like?
Mounters may be producing work for:
- volume production
- small batches
- individual one-off pieces.
Mass-produced mounts may be made by casting or stamping the metal to produce many pieces exactly the same. Smaller batches may be cast or crafted by hand. Individual pieces are more likely to be produced by hand.
Much of the large-scale mass jewellery production is now done overseas. Work in the UK is more likely to be small batches or individual craft work.
As well as being interested in jewellery, you need to be very good with your hands.
Mounters use a range of tools, including saw frames, hammers, pliers and gas torches. Some still use a mouth-controlled blowpipe, which leaves both hands free to work.
As a diamond mounter, you may work for a jewellery company, or you may be self-employed, with your own workshop. You may create mounts for other jewellers and jewellery companies.
Jewellery mounters who are working on individual pieces may create the design themselves or may work to a customer’s specification. They discuss the design with the customer, using their professional knowledge to advise them.
How do I become a jewellery mounter?
As well as being interested in jewellery and gems, 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 jeweller's shop or a jewellery workshop, you need to be able to follow instructions and work from 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.
If you're creating your own pieces, you'll need design skills and a knowledge of trends in jewellery.
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 training and qualifications do I need?
There are no specific qualifications for jewellery mounting. The techniques are covered in general jewellery courses which can be studied at different levels in different ways.
Apprenticeships are available through:
- the Goldsmiths Company, which runs its own five-year apprenticeship scheme
- Holts Academy of Jewellery, which offers apprenticeships in jewellery manufacture at Levels 2, 3 and 4.
College courses include:
- a BTEC National Diploma in Design Crafts (Precious Metals and Gemstones)
- a BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design Studies, including Silversmithing and Jewellery
- a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Jewellery Design and Production.
Degree courses in jewellery, gold/silversmithing and jewellery design are offered 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 offers Diplomas in Jewellery Manufacture at Levels 2, 3 and 4.
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 (especially resistant materials) are relevant school subjects.
There are short courses in jewellery mounting at a number of colleges around the UK. Although there are no entry requirements, they generally expect you to have some knowledge of jewellery making.
Salaries can vary as the work can cross over with design work and bench jewellery work, depending on the kind of company you work for.