Metals & Jewelry Design Careers

Make a living AND make a difference.

What do metal designers and jewelry designers do?

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers use a variety of common and specialized hand tools and equipment to design and manufacture new pieces of jewelry; cut, set and polish gem stones; repair or adjust rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other jewelry; and appraise jewelry, precious metals and gems. Jewelers usually specialize in one or more of these areas and may work for large jewelry manufacturing firms or small retail jewelry shops, or own their own businesses. Regardless of the type of work done or the work setting, jewelers require a high degree of skill, precision and attention to detail.

About 40 percent of all jewelers are self employed. Jewelers usually learn their trade in vocational or technical schools, through distance-learning centers, or on the job. Prospects for new jewelers should be excellent; many employers have difficulty finding and retaining workers with the right skills to replace those who retire or who leave the occupation for other reasons.

To be successful in the career of jewelry designing, you will need a keen interest in style and fashion, be creative and free thinking, and have a lot of self-confidence and patience. The best candidates will have skills as metalsmiths and bench jewelers; education in art and design, jewelry fabrication and gemology; and business skills including merchandising and buying. Since jewelry design involves work with clients in many different settings, good communication skills and ease in social situations are a must.

What are some typical occupations for metal and jewelry designers?

  • In-house retail designer
  • Large design house
  • Supervising designer
  • Transit designer (moving from store to store)
  • Freelance work
  • Self-employment (open your own store or start your own line)
  • Appraiser
  • Bench jeweler
  • Instructor

Where are Kendall graduates working?

  • David Yurman Designs Inc.
  • The Colibri Group
  • Bijou Drive
  • Medawar Jewelers

Salary information

Employment growth of jewelers, metal workers and precious stone workers is expected to decline slightly through 2014. However, employment opportunities will be excellent. New jewelers will be needed to replace many retiring jewelers or those who leave for other occupations.

Jewelry designers with one to years experience are making $30,000 to $49,000.

Employment-related websites

  • www.jewelers.org/pdf/jacareers.pdf (3.3MB PDF) (Careers in the jewelry industry)
  • www.codyconsultants.com (recruiting firm specializing in jewelry industry)
  • www.gia.edu/careers/index.cfm (career information)
  • www.jobs4gems.com (job-related information)
  • www.jewelers.org/profdevelopment/certification.html (bench certification)
  • www.collegegrad.com/careers/produ18.shtml#ear (career information)
  • www.gia.edu/careerfair/ (3.3MB PDF) (annual GIA job fair)
  • www.designerjewelrybrands.com/ (list of jewelry brands)
  • www.smadesigngroup.com/jewelryguide/jorgs.htm (jewelry industry guide)

Get involved

  • http://www.jewelrydesignersguild.com/ (International Guild)
  • www.womensjewelry.org (Women's Jewelry Association)

Join the Kendall Metals/Jewelry Club

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