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  1. #1
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    Default engraving/stone setting as a career

    I have quite a large fork in the road of my career in the near future. I can either take over the jewelry store I have been working at or go the way of the at home engraver or maybe stone setter and I would love some input form those that do it every day as a career.
    I am 28, been a bench jeweler for 11+ years, engraving and stone setting for 3 years (taught by Chris DeCamillis). I have a full at home engraving and jewelry setup. If I do the at home engraving/stone setting I know I have a lot more to learn and have been looking into some serious classes. I have been trying to apprentice again with Chris and am looking at the Alexandre School for stone setting. So if I were to work from home as an engraver and/or stone setter I have quite a few questions about what to expect without trying to get too personal about anyones specific information:
    1) What could I expect as an average income for an engraver? Stone setter?
    2) How does one go about getting jobs and getting your name out there?
    3) What other classes should I be looking into? Are there any comparable to Alexandre?
    4) Does anyone here have experience with Alexandre's class? How was it?
    5) Is the workload fairly consistent?
    6) Any other advice? What was the best thing you did for your career? What might you do differently?
    Thank you very much and I hope I'm not getting too personal with these questions. Please don't be afraid to be brutally honest, this is my families future I am trying to plan out and decide which direction to take that will be best for them and for me.
    Thank you again,
    Jay

  2. #2
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    May 2013
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    Default

    Im no jewlerer ill be taking some lessons soon, but if the store has had a steady revenue for x amount of years, is something to consider, vs how much can you produce on your own from home, that can take some time to establish, another.thing to consider is your cities zoning, will it allow you to operate that business from home? Just my two cents

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk
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    Carlos

    www.gunengraver.com

    "strive to produce work that the very best engravers do, set your mark high, aim for it, but don't be disappointed when you don't get to 100%, you will have done your best and that's what counts" - Phil Coggan


  3. #3
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    Nov 2006
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    Stockton, California & Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico
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    Default

    All of those questions are best answered by Chris or a jeweler/stone setter in your area.

    Best advice if you are going to do retail jewelry would be to get a copy of Gellers price book. http://www.jewelerprofit.com/Blue_Book.html

    Even if you don't stick to it - we didn't exactly - it increased our net by $30,000 in about 10 months.


    As far as the best thing you can do for your career... in my case I have never regretted taking at least 2 workshops every year.


    Brian

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  5. #4
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    Jun 2010
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    NC
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    Do what you will enjoy more. If you love what you do then you won't work a day in your life. Can you make good money from home? Yes, but you got to be really good and fast because you are working wholesale setting stones. The potential to make more money is owning a jewelry store. My 2 cents

  6. #5
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    Aug 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by WSammut View Post
    I have quite a large fork in the road of my career in the near future. I can either take over the jewelry store I have been working at or go the way of the at home engraver or maybe stone setter and I would love some input form those that do it every day as a career.
    I am 28, been a bench jeweler for 11+ years, engraving and stone setting for 3 years (taught by Chris DeCamillis). I have a full at home engraving and jewelry setup. If I do the at home engraving/stone setting I know I have a lot more to learn and have been looking into some serious classes. I have been trying to apprentice again with Chris and am looking at the Alexandre School for stone setting. So if I were to work from home as an engraver and/or stone setter I have quite a few questions about what to expect without trying to get too personal about anyones specific information:
    1) What could I expect as an average income for an engraver? Stone setter?
    2) How does one go about getting jobs and getting your name out there?
    3) What other classes should I be looking into? Are there any comparable to Alexandre?
    4) Does anyone here have experience with Alexandre's class? How was it?
    5) Is the workload fairly consistent?
    6) Any other advice? What was the best thing you did for your career? What might you do differently?
    Thank you very much and I hope I'm not getting too personal with these questions. Please don't be afraid to be brutally honest, this is my families future I am trying to plan out and decide which direction to take that will be best for them and for me.
    Thank you again,
    Jay
    1) Average income is pretty much what you make it. It can be $15-20K up to $150K or more, depending on your area, quality etc. An advantage of not being a store is lower overhead. An advantage of being a store is people already know you and will continue coming if you are good quality etc.

    2) Best way to start is to go to all the other stores in your area and see if you can get engraving work from them and/or stone setting and jewelry repair. If you go with the setting, you should know basic repair, sizing etc., and work on learning advanced repair as well so the stores that use you don't have to have more than just you doing their trade work. That also might help with the decision. If none want to use you, it might not be a good idea.

    3) Blaine Lewis and his school in Tennessee has had exceptional reviews. They offer week classes and longer, in almost all aspects of jewelry. https://newapproachschool.com/

    4) I haven't taken Alexanders courses but I am sure they are great.

    5) The workload can be as consistent as you make it. It really depends on how hard you work it, on how good your quality is, how quick the turn around is etc. It can be more work than you want, if you pursue it.

    6) Best thing I did was get my G.G. from GIA, and take a few 1 week courses on repair and setting. It enabled me to get a job in the trade, and I was coming from no experience at all. My personal preference was to work for another. I had no desire to have my own store, but when I was 60 my employer of 14+ years died of cancer. Nobody would hire me because I can do too many different things and they apparently thought I would threaten the positions of other employees. My wife and I opened our own store, and it is a struggle. The economy hasn't been the best for the 8+ years we have been open, and my health isn't the best. Her health was never that great, but we are still here and still chopping wood.

    Will

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  8. #6
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    Aug 2012
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    I'll try to answer your question about classes.

    I have been to Blaine's 3-month program at New Approach and taken Alexandre's Grand Master's stone setting course at GRS, not his 3-month course in Belgium. Blaine's 3-month program goes through everything from saw-piercing and filing to pavé stone setting and hand engraving. The environment is fantastic and Blaine and Drew are great teachers. It's the perfect place to learn/brush up on many different skills in a relatively short period of time. I owe a lot of my success to this program.

    If you are only looking to hone your stone setting and graver control, I believe Alexandre's school in Antwerp would suit you best. Both schools teach stone setting, however Alexandre School's 3-month program is centered around it. Two weeks with Alexandre took my stone setting to an entirely different level.

    Of course, being in a classroom where you can speak to an instructor allows you to learn much more than what's on the class schedule. I learned a great deal from small talk while on breaks or out to lunch. Just make sure to take advantage of every opportunity while you can.




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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  10. #7
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    Nov 2010
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    Louisville, CO
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    As a store owner and jeweler, I have always felt that:
    A) Taking on wholesale accounts would be kind of like hiring myself a boss. No thanks!
    B) Making your own jewelry (or other product) and selling it is the closest you can get to printing your own money.
    C) Sales are the best way to boost your "Hourly Wage".

    Of course store ownership has it's share of disadvantages too:
    A) You'll need to hire some help.
    B) Overhead : Rent/advertising/Payroll are the biggies
    C) Inventory

    It all depends on your skill and experience - If you're a great jeweler/designer/engraver
    with a line of customers waiting, stay custom and work by appointment from a studio.

    If you don't have a line of customers waiting for your custom work,
    keep the retail location and do what custom work comes your way.

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  12. #8
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    Default

    Eric makes some valid points. I left retail 5 years ago to work on my own. I have some of the best accounts in my area, and I take the engraving jobs I like or that intrigue me. I'm likely one of the highest paid bench jewelers in the area. To get to this place I've been in the same community and on the bench for 30 years. It takes either a good reputation (which I have) or some business savvy (which I have none) to make it in this business. Combine the two and you'll do ok.
    Given all that, I also work more than anyone I know. I'm in the shop 10-11 hrs a day at least 6 days a week. Far too much for my comfort. Some of it is my own doing as I decided to focus seriously on pushing my engraving hard this year so I spend a lot of time working on my skill set which doesn't always mean getting paid. It's been a tough stressful year. If I wasn't paying for a Catholic school education for my son I'd be more comfortable working less. It's a damn good thing I love what I do as it can be extremely stressful at times with a million people pulling you in a million dierections.
    That's my situation. Going solo is doable but not for everyone. If I was in your position and the store was even somewhat profitable and small enough to manage with a small crew of yourself and one or two more, I wouldn't dream of leaving it. There are too many benefits that come with it. at the end of the day, going out on your own is tough to do without a day job to fill the gap as you become established. This is not a business where you hang a shingle and they'll beat a path to your door. That takes a lot of hard work and time.
    That's my take on it. You really need some advice from someone in your town. Too many variables.

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  14. #9
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    Lots of good advice here. I would say in addition to marketing, etc, that much of your success can be boiled down to how good you are. If you're mediocre you will scrap with other mediocre setters and engravers for mediocre pay. If you're work is top tier, then you stand a chance of making a lot more money. But if you're not good a self promotion and selling yourself and building your brand, then you will really limit your opportunities.

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  16. #10
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    Practice a Belgian accent, always go to za counter wift the apron on and a magnifier flipped up and say ya OK we do for sumvar round $ no ve cant have it it by then well let me think if there is somesing I can move back a little-Let za girl know I haft to get back to za bench. Disappear

    Christmas will kill you-you will come to hat that and graduation time.

    Really Mike Dubber could lend you some insite as he did both at the same time for 40 years.
    Fred
    Want to learn to engrave, "cut an inch a Day every Day" Jim Small
    Fred Marrinan

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