I've been looking at different courses for so long, but options seemed limited to the super-basic, which would have been a bit of a waste of time and the advanced, incorporating pave and channel setting. What I really wanted to learn was the correct way to do tube, round claw, V-claw and flush setting. Eventually, some extensive googling led me to Guy Whitney and the Whitney Jewellery School. It's in Brigg, a small village just outside of Scunthorpe, which was obviously a bit of a trek from London, especially as part of the train journey was by way of replacement bus. I emailed Guy and spoke to him on the telephone, told him what I wanted to learn and booked three days tuition. He was very friendly and helpful right from the start.
The Whitney Jewellery School workshop is a great place to learn - full of light and amazing tools and equipment. Guy's lovely daughter, Emma (also a jeweller) helps run the school.
I found Guy's teaching style great - he shows you in detail how to do each thing to start and then has you do exactly the same thing, checking in on you frequently. I have a few books on stone setting that have detailed diagrams of technique, but really nothing beats watching a master craftsman at work!Learning how to use the correct tools was a bit of a revelation. My stone setting tools are ones I bought at college and were all entirely wrong for my little hands. Guy makes his own setting tools, and uses GRS quick change gravers (not cheap but so worth it for the elimination of graver-related faffing) and you can buy a little kit at the end of the course to take away with you, which I'd thoroughly recommend doing.
The Whitney Jewellery School also uses the GRS Benchmate system, which I'd never heard of before, but found an absolute game changer for jewellery work. It's difficult to describe, so if you want more information on it check out the GRS website, but basically it looks a bit like this, with interchangable parts (bench pin etc) for different tasks.
In conclusion, I would thoroughly recommend the Whitney Jewellery school for stone setting tuition. I felt like I learned so much over the course of the three days. I also had a lovely time, as Guy and Emma are both friendly and professional, and Guy also has loads of useful tips on goldsmithing techniques and tools.