MJSA. Professional excellence in jewelry making and design.

MJSA’s At the Bench Live

Tips & Best Practices for Bench Jewelers

Feb. 6–8, 2020 • AGTA GemFair Tucson, Tucson Convention Center


MJSA’s interactive At the Bench Live sessions feature some of the industry’s most renowned jewelers demonstrating tips, best practices, and innovative approaches to common (and not so common) repair and fabrication projects. The MJSA bench seminars scheduled for the 2020 AGTA GemFair Tucson include Joel McFadden presenting pavé and fishtail setting techniques; Lee Krombholz showing how to create unique textural finishes; and Gary Dawson on the overlooked opportunities CAD/CAM offers to bench jewelers. All three presenters are also key contributors to the latest MJSA Press book, At the Bench Vol. 2: Tips, Techniques, & Step-by-Step Projects for Jewelers of All Skill Levels, which will be available for sale.

Sessions will run twice daily Feb. 6–8 as part of GemFair’s seminar program. Below you’ll find the full schedule. For more information about AGTA GemFair Tucson, click here.


February 6

Joel McFadden Line ’Em Up: Single-Row Pavé Setting
Presenter: Joel McFadden
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Single-row pavé, which consists of a line of small diamonds set into a narrow strip of metal, is a beautiful use of melee. Learn how to master this style to create a bold, brilliant look.

Scaling New Heights: Fishtail Setting
Presenter: Joel McFadden
3:30 to 5 p.m. The fishtail setting  gets its name from the way, when viewed from the side, its prongs flare into two sections and resemble a fishtail. Simple in appearance, it’s one of the most beautiful setting styles when done correctly—as this session will demonstrate.

About the Presenter: Joel McFaddenis a third-generation jeweler who owns The Art of Jewelry By Joel McFadden (jmdjewelry.com), a custom-design studio in Red Bank, New Jersey. He is a frequent lecturer at industry trade shows (including MJSA Expo and the Atlanta Jewelry Show). He is also the director of the MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers and in 2017 was named the first MJSA Mentor Jeweler.


February 7

Lee KrombholzFinish Line: Creating Cool Textures

Presenter: Lee Krombholz
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.Designers continue to use evocative textures—hammered, scratched, stippled, and more—to enhance their creations. See how, with a few basic tools and techniques (along with some imagination), you can add flair to your designs.

A Closer Look: Vintage Hand-Engraved Patterns
Presenter: Lee Krombholz
3:30 to 5 p.m. With modern bench microscopes, jewelers can more easily employ the techniques that hand engravers have used for hundreds of years. View a gallery of patterns and learn how you can re-create them for a vintage look.

About the Presenter: Lee Krombholz is a custom jeweler and third-generation owner of Krombholz Jewelers in Cincinnati (krombholzjewelers.com). An award- winning designer, he is a founding member of the MJSA Council of Custom Jewelers. In 2018 the Council named him one of the first MJSA Mentor Jewelers. He is also a past president of the OJA/Mid-America Jewelers Association and a vice chair of the MJSA board of directors.


February 8

Gary DawsonMarrying Tradition and Tech: CAD/CAM at the Bench

Presenter: Gary Dawson
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Computer-aided design and manufacturing can help bench jewelers as well as designers. Learn how CAD/CAM can be integrated with traditional bench techniques to streamline repairs and restoration, and breathe new life into small workshop businesses.

The Three Cs: Carving, CAD, and Casting
Presenter: Gary Dawson
3:30 to 5 p.m. Whether hand-carving models or creating them through CAD, bench jewelers must understand casting’s dynamics to ensure those models can become well-made jewelry. Discover tips and tricks for creating precise models that will lead to clean castings. 

About the Presenter: Gary Dawson is the owner of Gary Dawson Designs (garydawsondesigns.com), an online custom studio named a “Best of the Best” by Instore magazine. A certified Rhino CAD/CAM trainer and the chair of MJSA’s Council of Custom Jewelers, he has contributed his expertise through numerous articles, lectures, and workshops throughout the industry. In 2018 the Council named him one of the first MJSA Mentor Jewelers.


MJSA Advantage

MJSA members receive exclusive informational and marketing benefits, from free promotional placements to information research services.