I have been asked the question “How do you get to be a jeweller?”, or “Can you fix my Watch”, or “You’re a Jeweller, can you fix my clock?” All good questions and I have been asked them many, many times.
There are a great many “facets” to this Trade of Jewellery (forgive the pun). Many miss-truths, miss-understandings and sadly some miss-trust.
Robert Cliff Master Jewellers has a reputation in the Jewellery industry of employing specialists in all of the fields within this Trade – most of who are the best in the industry. Therefore, if you will allow me, I will try to answer some of your questions, to explain what you may want or should know!
What is a qualified Jeweller?
- To become a qualified Jeweller you must firstly complete the Jewellery Trade and Design course (in Sydney- Enmore TAFE) over three years and also complete an Apprenticeship with Master Jewellers, over 4 years.
- The TAFE course is concentrated on the skills involved in the manufacturing of fine jewellery, designing, drawing, bench sketching, engraving, setting and the theory of melting points of all precious metals and gem-stones.
- Jewellery manufacturing is a combination of metal work fitting and turning using and very expensive metals together with smaller and minute equipment.
- Most shaping and forming is still done by hand, not by machine.
- By end of the Apprenticeship you are competent enough to start to make pieces in gold.
- When your course is complete you are qualified and enabled to create and make the ring and its mount. This excludes the gemstone setting (a trade and skill separate).
- The first twelve months anything that is to be created by the Apprentice is done so using Silver – the cost of a mistake can be huge in this industry!
- Your time will also be taken up with a lot of rolling of gold, cleaning and polishing (both the jewellery and the workshop!)
This is only the start – it takes much more than just the first four years – now your trade really begins! Many
Diamond and Gemstone Setting which takes place after the Jewellery tradesman has created their work of art.
- This is a separate Trade within a Trade.
- The Gemstone setter sets the gemstone into the jewellery – they do nothing else, they are specialists.
- Most people think the stones are glued in – they are not. The Gemstones are held by the precious metal, minute claws that the Jewellery has created specific to every design and stone. This is a highly specialized field. Unfortunately, here in Australia now, there is not a formal course. It is now, purely a learnt skill from sitting with these highly skilled Gemstone Setters for many years. Practicing on only your own pieces – as some gemstones are easily scratched or broken during this process.
- All Gemstone setting is done by hand – however, currently, a setter has equipment to help in this delicate task, specific microscopes that allow setting to be done under the Lens called “micro setting” (many gemstone setters lost their eye sight very early in life) and power tools to help him manoeuvre the claws over the stones, gently, softly and carefully.
- A huge change that has affected this part of the trade in modern day is many designs are requiring them to be multi-stone set. All of which are done under the microscope and extremely time consuming!
- Hand Engraving – unfortunately a dying art.
- Today, with all the laser machinery that is on offer, can be done faster and more accurately than ever before. Therefore, slowly, this will become yet another lost art.
- There is not any formal course available for specifically hand engraving only to learn it from a Master Craftsman.
- Most hand engravers are all skilled Jewellers. However, if this is required – and for beautiful hand crafted pieces it often is, not all work is guaranteed to be done this way (small Engraving machinery may be found with key cutters). Engraving, be it hand or by laser, is still a specialized skill that is far better with the skills of a jeweller to understand the creations upon which their work will be forever recorded.
- Ensure that your engraving is done via a specialist – ask!
- Valuing jewellery is performed (or should be) by a qualified Gemmologist and Registered member of the Jewellers Council.
- Qualifications for this skill – a Gemmological Degree, specializing in crystal systems, gemstones, their identification and valuation for replacement or sale.
- In the very large Jewellery houses of Europe they have Jewellery Designers that do nothing else, all day, but design, utilizing specific pre-determined parameters, gemstones and metals. These Designers don’t make jewellery, only design it. However, often stifled by their company restrictions.
- Here in Australia, all good Designers are also Jewellery tradesman.
- There is a course at TAFE for Jewellery Designing and is highly recommended to any Manufacturing Jewellery company or qualified Jewellery Tradesman.
- The skill of drawing is a must (my opinion) as a clients need be able to see what they are going to own as their thoughts are discussed with the Jewellery Designer – a very personal moment.
- Computer programmes have been developed to create an image, and they certainly have their place, however, again, the parameters are pre-set and creativity is often stiffelled.
- Designers are artists, creative and imaginative, (not robots or computerized) they must have the knowledge of the medium to be used to ensure the design is not only possible, but unique and wearable.
- A totally separate part of the Jewellery trade.
- A TAFE Course, however, a much different descendent of a very old Trade today.
- Highly skilled and specialized, using minute parts that one must dis-assemble and reassemble.
- Many of these minute parts moved and inter-reacted with one another to ensure a time is kept absolutely accurately.
- There are many modern mechanical advances in this trade today with many or most parts now not re-created, just replaced.
- Most parts are (if not all) are now made by machines, the Watch Maker fixes the machines mistakes!
- Most Watches and Clocks today are required to be returned to the Manufacturer to ensure the warranty is not erased.
- This part of the Jewellery trade has seen the biggest changes – not always for the best!
Engraving – yet another facet of this intricate trade:
Valuing Jewellery – Gemmology
Watch Making – not a “facet” of crafting Jewellery, at all!
Robert Cliff Master Jewellers – 30 years in the Jewellery industry and with Master Craftsmen creating in their Workshop (with over 40 years experience) works of art that are worthy of eternity.
Go to our Website and click on “Make an Appointment”, Mention this article, leave your details, and we will send you out a Free ring check and Clean Voucher together with a free Catalogue.
We will be more than happy to answer all your diamond and jewellery questions with an obligation free consultation. So feel free to contact us to make an appointment or call.