Career Information:

Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

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Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers Overview

The skills of a jeweler or precious stones and metal worker can either be learned on the job, in distance-learning centers, vocational school or technical school.

Competition is expected to be high for lower skilled manufacturing jobs. Nearly half of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers are self-employed.

Nature of the Work for Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Equipment is used by jewelers and precious stone and metal workers to design and manufacture pieces of jewelry. This equipment can help polish, repair and adjust jewelry such as rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Jewelers may specialize in one specific area while working in a jewelry manufacturing firm or small retail shop. Skill, precision, and attention to detail are all important to a jeweler.

Jewelers, who either make their own design or follow another design, can shape metal, do finishing work, set stones, engrave jewelry or make repairs. Repair work can include changing ring sizes or resetting stones.

Jewelers who work in jewelry retailers are usually referred to as bench jewelers who can perform a wide range of tasks.

Though jewelers usually do a majority of the handiwork required to produce each piece of jewelry, some jewelers may choose to study gemology so they can become familiar with certain stones they are working with.

Jewelers who own their own stores or repair shops may also be responsible for managing the store, hiring and firing employees, ordering and selling merchandise as well as other managerial duties.

New technology, such as lasers, can produce jewelry in short amounts of time at a reduced cost. Lasers, for example, can cut stones and improve their quality as well as applying engravings.

Computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) is sometimes also used in manufacturing firms to facilitate product design by creating a virtual-reality model so jewelers can design and make changes to the screen rather than to the piece of jewelry.

Attention to detail and concentration are important qualifications for jewelers. Working with lasers requires careful handling to avoid any possible injury. Security procedures are also important for jewelers, such as installing alarms or working in the presence of armed guards.

For jewelers working in repair shops, their work is usually unsupervised unlike retail stores where jewelers may constantly communicate with customers about orders and repairs.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Recommended Education Level

Jewelers can either learn their trade from metal and jewelry arts training such as a vocational school or technical school or at their job.

For jewelers and precious stones and metal workers working in manufacturing plants, skills can be developed through on-the-job training or informal apprenticeships.

Jewelers working in retail stores or repair shops may need to take college courses or vocational training in order to fully be prepared. Jewelers could learn about designing, casting, and setting stones and gems in such courses.

Gemology is also offered at various institutes where students can learn about identifying and grading diamonds and gems.

For students looking to obtain a higher level degree, jewelers and precious stone and metal workers can receive a bachelor of fine arts or master of fine arts in jewelry design.

Good hand-eye coordination, concentration, hand dexterity, artistic ability, understanding merchandise and being personable with customers are important qualifications for jewelers and precious stones and metal workers.

Bench jewelers looking to get certified can receive certification as a Certified Bench Jeweler Technician or Certified Master Bench Jeweler, as well as others. The certification process requires passing a written and practical test.

For jewelers working in manufacturing, advancement could mean moving to supervisory jobs while those working in jewelry stores could become managers or open their own business.

Jewelers interested in starting their own business should have experience, build a reputation, and have sales, marketing and business experience.

Top 10 Most Popular Metal and Jewelry Arts Schools

1. Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad (Carlsbad, California)
2. Studio Jewelers (New York, New York)
3. Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, New York)
4. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, Georgia)
5. Temple University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
6. Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, Rhode Island)
7. Miami International University of Art & Design (Miami, Florida)
8. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, New York)
9. University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth (North Dartmouth, Massachusetts)
10. University of North Texas (Denton, Texas)

See All Metal and Jewelry Arts Schools

Employment and Job Outlook for Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Number of People in Profession

23,410

Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow more slowly than average (increase 3 - 6%).

Out of the 23,410 jobs held by jewelers and precious stones and metal works, nearly half were self-employed.

Since most jewelry is imported, the demand for lower-skilled workers will lessen. Online jewelry outlets that require limited staff members can also contribute to making it difficult for those who are less skilled to find employment.

Skilled jewelers will be essential for nontraditional retailers selling new jewelry. New jewelers will also be needed to replace those that leave the workplace or retire. Those who graduate from a training program for jewelers will have the most job opportunities. Competition will also increase for jewelers looking to start their own jewelry line.

Though the economy can affect the purchasing of jewelry, jewelry repairers will still be needed for those choosing to repair jewelry rather than purchase new pieces.

Earnings and Salary for Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Median annual wages for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers are $34,060. The middle 50 percent earn between $25,050 and $45,240. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $19,080, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $57,170.

Most jewelers begin by receiving a base salary and can eventually make more money by the number of jewelry pieces they sell. Those working in retail stores can also earn a commission.

Annual Salary for Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

On average, Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers earn $34,060 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $19,080/yr $25,050/yr $45,240/yr $57,170/yr

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook