Approximately 38,100 jewelers and precious stone and metal workers are employed in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Jewelers work in a variety of settings, from production work in multinational corporations to jewelry stores and repair shops. Some jewelers specialize in gem and diamond work, watchmaking, jewelry appraisal, repair, or engraving, or they may work in manufacturing or at the retail level. Other jewelers work only as appraisers. In most cases, appraisals are done by storeowners or jewelers who have years of experience. About 32 percent of all jewelers are self-employed, according to the DOL. The majority of the self-employed jewelers own their own stores or repair shops or specialize in designing and creating custom jewelry. Top states for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers include New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Illinois.
Industries that hire the most jewelers are jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores and jewelry and silverware manufacturing companies.
A summer or part-time job in a jewelry store or the jewelry department of a department store will help you learn about the business. Another way to enter this line of work is to contact jewelry manufacturing establishments in major production centers. A trainee can acquire the many skills needed in the jewelry trade. The number of trainees accepted in this manner, however, is relatively small. Students who have completed a training program improve their chances of finding work as an apprentice or trainee. Students may learn about available jobs and apprenticeships through the career services offices of training schools they attend, from local jewelers, or from the personnel offices of manufacturing plants.
Those desiring to establish their own retail businesses find it helpful to first obtain employment with an established jeweler or a manufacturing plant. Considerable financial investment is required to open a retail jewelry store, and jewelers in such establishments find it to their advantage to be able to do repair work on watches as well as the usual jeweler's work. Less financial investment is needed to open a trade shop. These shops generally tend to be more successful in or near areas with large populations where they can take advantage of the large volume of jewelry business. Both retail jewelry stores and trade shops are required to meet local and state business laws and regulations.
There are many opportunities for advancement in the jewelry field. Jewelers and jewelry repairers can go into business for themselves once they have mastered the skills of their trade. They may create their own designer lines of jewelry that they market and sell, or they can open a trade shop or retail store. Many self-employed jewelers gain immense satisfaction from the opportunity to specialize in one aspect of jewelry or to experiment with new methods and materials.
Workers in jewelry manufacturing have fewer opportunities for advancement than in other areas of jewelry because of the declining number of workers needed. Plant workers in semiskilled and unskilled positions can advance based on the speed and quality of their work and by perseverance. On-the-job training can provide opportunities for higher-skilled positions. Workers in manufacturing who show proficiency can advance to supervisory and management positions, or they may leave manufacturing and go to work in a retail shop or trade shop.
The most common avenue of advancement is from employee in a factory, shop, or store to owner or manager of a trade shop or retail store. Or these employees may be promoted to supervisory or management positions. Sales is an excellent starting place for people who want to own their own store. Sales staff receive firsthand training in customer relations as well as knowledge of the different aspects of jewelry store merchandising. Sales staff may become gem experts who are qualified to manage a store, and managers may expand their territory from one store to managing several stores in a district or region. Top management in retail offers many interesting and rewarding positions to people who are knowledgeable, responsible, and ambitious. Buyers may advance by dealing exclusively with fine gems that are more expensive, and some buyers become diamond merchants, buying diamonds on the international market.
Jewelry designers' success depends not only on the skill with which they make jewelry but also on the ability to create new designs and keep in touch with current trends in the consumer market. Jewelry designers attend craft shows, trade shows, and jewelry exhibitions to see what others are making and to get ideas for new lines of jewelry.
If you're interested in designing your own jewelry, educate yourself on all aspects of design. Study popular styles of jewelry and current and past trends.
Focus on a type or style of jewelry to set you apart from others in the field and create a portfolio of your work. This could be in the form of a set of high-quality color photos, photos and descriptions on the Internet, or even sample pieces that display your best work.
If possible, complete an internship or an apprenticeship with a jeweler. If an apprenticeship isn't available, working as an intern or as a sales associate in a boutique is the next best thing. You can get valuable hands-on experience and training.
Visit https://www.jewelers.org/ja/careers-education/jewelry-careers-guide to read the Jewelry Careers Guide.