Setting Up For Savings

2005 AJM INNOVATION AWARD WINNER: Hoover & Strong’s True Seat®With escalating pressure from global competition, jewelry manufacturers and retailers are seeking ways to reduce manufacturing costs without compromising the quality of their products. One way is to take the newest four-prong approach offered by Hoover & Strong in Richmond, Virginia: The company’s Tru-Seat® settings for princess cut diamonds promise to dramatically speed up the setting of a relatively fragile stone shape while also reducing setting errors and costs.

“How do we compete in the global jewelry industry when skilled jewelers in the U.S. are earning $35,000 to $40,000 per year while some jewelers overseas are earning as little as $2,500 per year?” asks Torry Hoover, president of Hoover & Strong. “By simplifying the setting process so that a jeweler with basic skills can set stones quickly and accurately, Tru-Seat® settings enable manufacturers and retailers large and small to cut labor costs instantly. The princess settings offer 80 percent labor savings because the difficult work — cutting the seats, cutting pockets to ensure the corners of the stone don’t chip, etc. — is done.”

The secret to the Tru-Seat® design is that the seat for the diamond is pre-cut into the setting, and the manufacturing process ensures that the seat is always proportional and level. By eliminating the need for the setter to individually prepare the settings, the design also eliminates many of the problems that can arise during setting, such as over-cutting the seat, having the bur wrap around the prong and cutting the side, or drilling through a prong.

The setting process is not only faster, but also leads to fewer rejections for unevenly set stones. “The pre-cut eliminates problems with the stone not being even, or not set square,” says Lee Nohe of Dialuck in New York City, whose company recently switched to the Tru-Seat® for its princess cut stones. “Because I work with major [retailers] and their QC departments, there can be problems if you have a stone set improperly. This puts us one step closer to eliminating quality-control rejection.”

Offering high quality is where the Tru-Seat® excels, says Hoover. “Although we hear a lot about price in the current global market, retailers -especially the larger chains with buying power- are still demanding quality”, he says. “Some will reject the whole lot if the rejection rate is more than 2 percent. With the Tru-Seat®, repeatability is guaranteed.”

The pre-cut design also reduces setting errors that can lead to broken prongs or broken stones.

First introduced in 1995 on a line of cup settings, the Tru-Seat® line has been expanded to accommodate a range of shapes, including marquise, emerald, pear, and the new princes style, as ell as solitaires, Tiffany-style heads, and peg settings. Much research and development went into the perfection of Hoover & Strong’s Tru-Seat® settings for princess cuts.

The company started by researching diamond suppliers and findings manufacturers to calculate the standard diamond sizes need to fashion the settings. They also invited renowned stone setter Blaine Lewis of the New Approach School for Jewelers in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to teach a weekend stone setting class to all the tool makers, CAD designers, and production workers who make the settings. “After our employees realized what a jeweler needs when he or she works with our settings, the buzz was incredible”, says Hoover. “We changed most of the product design and engineering after that setting class.”

Hoover & Strong is so confident in the potential labor savings the Tru-Seat® represents, they offer a money-back guarantee.

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© AJM – 2005