Jewelers design, make, repair and sell jewelry. They work in design and craft studios, retail stores, factories and repair shops. They use silver, gold, diamonds an other types of metals and gems. Some jewelers are artists that design jewelry. In retail stores master jewelers often interact with customers and perform sales duties.
Some jewelers specialize in setting stones or restyling and repairing old jewelry. Some employees in jewelry shops primarily repair jewelry and watches. Gem cutters cut diamonds and other precious gems and synthetic gems.
Jewelers make jewelry or they have other people make it for them. Jewelry crafts people often produce jewelry by using the design specifications of another jeweler. Some jewelry is produced by using assembly line methods. Some factory made jewelry includes some hand finishing.
Jewelry crafts people use a variety of hand and machine tools. Some master jewelers utilize electronic machinery such as automated tools and lasers. They use special magnifying glasses to see details when they are making intricate pieces. Custom made jewelry pieces usually require a lot of handwork.
Bench jewelers perform a wide range of tasks in retail stores or in a manufacturing environment. They clean, repair or mold pieces based on a concept or requirements from clients. They may also do engraving.
Jewelry repairers fix bracelets, earrings, necklaces, watches and other items. They reset stones and adjust or repair settings. They also replace missing or broken stones and they resize rings.
Jewelry appraisers need advanced knowledge of gems and settings. They need to be aware of current market value. Jewelry pieces are priced by type, condition and style. A jewelry appraiser needs to determine the quality of the piece. They use reference books, price lists, auction catalogs and the Internet. Jewelry appraisers are often gemologists and work for jewelry retail stores, appraisal companies, pawnbrokers, insurance companies and auction houses.
Gemologists have advanced knowledge of gemstones including their value and characteristics. They identify, analyze, grade, describe and certify the value and quality of stones. Many jewelers study to be a gemologist in order to identify the type and quality of stones.
- Make necklaces, rings, earrings and other jewelry
- Cut and shape metal into jewelry pieces
- Develop drawings to see how a piece of jewelry will look
- Reshape, restyle and repair jewelry pieces
- Form model of item from wax or metal by using carving tools
- Enlarge or reduce the size of rings
- Remove stains from jewelry
- Form molds for making jewelry
- Pour molten metal into molds
- Operate centrifugal casting machine to cast article
A jeweler should be detailed oriented, have good finger and hand dexterity, good hand-eye coordination and they need to be able to work with precision. Artistic ability is important for the occupation. Those working in retail stores may talk with customers regarding custom design work or repairs and perform sales duties. Jewelers that work in repair shops typically work alone.
The employment growth for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers has been forecasted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be 5 percent from 2008 to 2018 which is more slowly than the average for all occupations. Most jewelry is imported and continued growth of imported jewelry will limit demand for workers, especially for low-skilled workers. However, demand for bench jewelers is expected to growth due to the demand for more customized jewelry.
In 2008 the median annual earnings for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers was $32,940. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $55,130. Jewelers that work in retail stores may earn commissions for jewelry sold.
Graduates of training programs for jewelers or gemologists and for individuals with training in CAD/CAM will have the best employment opportunities in jewelry stores and repair shops.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 approximately 54 percent of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers were self-employed. Many of them operate their own store or repair shop. Some individuals specialize in designing and creating custom jewelry.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Jewelers usually learn their craft on the job or by taking classes at a vocational school. Some vocational schools offer training designed for jewelers. Formal training is often helpful for obtaining a job. The classes teach students on subjects such as using tools and equipment, stone polishing, shop theory, repair techniques and gem stones and settings. Some students, especially those that want to repair jewelry, take advanced math courses.
Vocational schools provide programs for individuals seeking to work in retail stores and repair shops. These programs last from 6 months to a year. Those working in jewelry manufacturing facilities typically acquire their skills via on-the-job training and informal apprenticeships which usually last for about one year.
Some jewelers take fine arts classes and some earn a bachelor's degree or a master's degree in fine arts with an emphasis in jewelry design. Some colleges and universities provide coursework in gemology. In addition, computer-aided design is becoming increasingly important to retail jewelers, thus coursework in the subject may be useful.
The Jewelers Association of America provides several certificates including the Certified Master Bench Jeweler and the Certified Bench Jeweler Technician. Certification is not necessary, however it may be helpful in getting a job.
The top employers are retail stores, repair shops, and jewelry and silverware manufacturing firms.
Schools for Jewelers And Precious Stone And Metal Workers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.