Polishing up your skills with a master craftsman is a rare treat unless you work for one or have made friends in high places. Luckily I had the opportunity through Creative Scotland to train with an exceptional craftsman on a short course to set my skills in stone.
A six-hour journey down the road from Dundee led me to a beautiful little studio tucked away in the English countryside, home to goldsmith and stone setter Guy Whitney.
Arriving slightly flushed from Google Maps rather dubious directions, I settled into Guy’s incredible studio. His benches were set up with top-notch equipment, and the noble GRS® Benchmate system was at the forefront. It was the perfect armamentarium for stone setting.
We decided to work on bezel, round claw, pavé, flush, channel, and V shaped claw settings over the course, and after a quick run through the various tools I would be using, we fuelled up on a little coffee and started with a classic bezel setting.
Guy took me through each step of the process. Being very thorough, and making sure I was holding the tools correctly and getting each stage right.
Working with the GRS® system meant we had a hands free setup. The Benchmate enables you to have a 360° rotation so you can work on your ring at any angle, and most importantly check if your stones are completely level from all angles. Less pressure on your hands so more freedom to be accurate and neat when setting. A perfectionists dream!
After much trial and error in my own studio, it was incredible to see how using the right tools and having a little expert guidance can make your job so much easier. And on a lighter note, how there could be so little nail varnish chipped at the end of each day, just a thought…
‘Skills set in stone, Part 2’ coming up next week!