Steven Kretchmer is best known for his extremely well-made tension set jewelry and his solid blue and solid purple gold alloys. He began making jewelry in 1969 and worked for many years out of his studio in Palenville, NY. Kretchmer assisted renown jewelers like Harry Winston with his wizard-like metallurgy skills, producing vividly colored batches of solid gold and platinum. Kretchmer's award-winning tension settings are all manufactured in his studio, but are only sold to the public through authorized retail jewelers.
As a world-class metal nerd, Kretchmer found better ways to securely wedge hard stones like corundum and diamond into even relatively soft metals like gold without the need for channels or prongs, which typically obstruct the view of the stone. Kretchmer's trademark Omega setting, for example, offers completely unobstructed views of the front and rear sides of a round brilliant-cut diamond, since the stone is crammed into a notch cut out of the band. Specialized machinery and Kretchmer's patented processes for work-hardening the metal make it possible for the setting to exert 12,000 pounds of pressure against the left and right sides of the stone to hold it in place permanently. Kretchmer's company vigorously defends his patents against knock-off artists, and even purchases their tension-set rings just to verify they aren't as sturdy as the real thing.
On July 8, 2006, Steven Kretchmer died in a motorcycle accident near Woodstock, New York. He was 52 years old.