Professional Jeweler Archive: Work, Work, Work ...

April 2002

Professional Bench/Five Steps to Profit

Work, Work, Work ...

An abundance of talent and skill in his craft paired with patience for teaching others leaves JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler Gerald Ledbetter inundated with work but surrounded by a talented staff he helped to train

Gerald Ledbetter, JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler™ and shop manager for Troy Vinson Jewelers, started at the bench in 1970 when he was a senior in high school. He performed polishing, clean-up and general repair work for Spencer Wholesale Jewelers. After high school, he stayed with the profession full time and concentrated on developing his skills.

Ledbetter’s ability and proficiency caught the attention of Troy Vinson, also a talented bench jeweler. In 1978, the two men started Ledbetter Wholesale Jewelers. The shop was established in one of Vinson’s two retail stores. Under this arrangement, Ledbetter made a priority of Vinson’s work while providing trade shop services for several other retailers.

In 1986, Vinson sold the store where Ledbetter Wholesale was located and convinced him to become a full-time employee in his Fort Worth store. They had discovered Vinson’s retail competitors benefited from Ledbetter’s quality work and dedicated service. Ledbetter quickly agreed to the new arrangement, knowing it would allow more time for family and personal interests.

Ledbetter’s focus and interests at the bench include:

  • Manufacturing custom designs.
  • Working with Troy Vinson’s in-store die maker on specifications and details related to jewelry from that process (see Professional Jeweler, March 2001, pp. 98-100 for more on die making at the retail level).
  • Producing jewelry designed or developed from the stores’ Gemvision Digital Goldsmith software system.
  • Stone-setting projects that include channel setting or bead-and-bright cutting.
  • Training and sharing techniques with other bench jewelers and coworkers.

The length of time Ledbetter has been in the manufacturing trade shop business has given him the opportunity to train several employees.

When Ledbetter is not at the bench, he enjoys time with his wife and four grown children. They have a family horse ranch where you can find him exercising his patience in a different way – training horses.

For the 5 P’s of pricing, process, promotion, productivity and professionalism at Troy Vinson Jewelers, see the February issue of Professional Jeweler, pp. 94-95.

For information about JA’s Bench Jeweler Certification program, call JA at (800) 223-0673 or visiting

Ledbetter taught at a recent Jewelers of America live demonstration. Here (above and below) he teaches manufacturing techniques for a small pillbox, one of the bench tests incorporated in the JA Certification Master Bench Jeweler program.

Gerald Ledbetter

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications