This article is a book review by Tim McCreight for the book “Setting of Gemstones”, written by Walter Zeiss, for the 1984 Fall issue of Metalsmith Magazine.

Setting of Gemstones
By Walter Zeiss, Ruhle-Diebener-Verlag
Stuttgart, Germany, 1984
125 pages
$18.75

This book has apparently grown out of the author’s experience as a commercial setter and instructor for the German jewelry trade. It reads like class notes from Advanced Gem Setting 305, and without the instructor they don’t offer much help.

One of the nice things I can say about this is to commend the accuracy of the title. The instruction here covers only the setting of stones—not how to make the setting, nothing about the stones, little about the appropriateness of a particular setting for a particular use. It is written for the person who makes a living setting stones into pieces of jewelry that have been designed and made by others. It occurs to me that this is a relatively small market.

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This small volume was written in German and suffers in the English translation. Improper grammar and awkward sentence structure slow down the reading. The instructions are often repetitive, further increasing the “user unfriendliness” of the book. While the text at times goes into picayune detail, at other times it glosses over what would seem to be necessary information. A phrase that came up often enough to frustrate me was, “It is crucial that the fit be proper,” No explanation of what the proper fit was, nor how to achieve it, just make very sure you get it right. The tone throughout was somewhat rigid though I guess this is typical of trade education.

The book is full of drawings, and these were usually helpful. They were blurred in the copy I had, making them a little hard to figure out, but usually worth the effort. They were easier to read than the text.

Because this book covers setting to the exclusion of related topics, it is not appropriate for beginners. Its rigid and narrow attitude are best augmented by experience. However, if you have enough experience to understand this book, you probably don’t need it.

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