A bench jeweler repairs, adjusts, restores, and possibly makes jewelry. They usually have a knack for design along with training acquired on the job, or from a vocational school. Professional certification is optional.
Bench jewelers often work at retail jewelry stores rather than large jewelry manufacturing firms. They perform a variety of services, including cleaning and polishing jewelry, along with advanced tasks such as jewelry design. While there's no formal education required, bench jewelers can complete vocational programs or on-the-job training; those who'd like to include jewelry design in their skill set may want to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in fine art. Certifications are available to those wishing to enhance their career qualifications.
|Required Education||Vocational or on-the-job training; minimum of bachelor's degree can improve job prospects for those interested in creating original designs|
|Certification||Multiple levels of voluntary professional certification available|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||-7% for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers|
|Median Annual Salary (2018)*||$39,440 for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description for a Bench Jeweler
Bench jewelers perform entry-level tasks such as simple clasp or link repairs; however, they might also create jewelry from scratch using precious and semi-precious gems and metals. They can be skilled in computer-aided design (CAD) or laser engraving and soldering. More advanced bench jewelers build molds from metal or wax that will produce new jewelry pieces.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a decline in employment of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers from 2018-2028. However, bench jewelers are considered skilled employees and since customers place a higher value on original jewelry design, jewelers who can offer these skills could expect the best job prospects during this decade. In May 2018, the BLS reported that workers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $67,250 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $23,530 or less per year.
Duties for a Bench Jeweler
Because they often work at smaller, retail establishments, bench jewelers perform a wide range of duties in various areas of expertise. They often restore old or damaged jewelry, adjust already-created jewelry for size or customize it to a patron's liking. They might also personalize jewelry through engraving metals or resetting gems. Bench jewelers also create original pieces from a designer's specifications or a customer's request.
Requirements for a Bench Jeweler
Vocational or trade schools can provide the education required to become a bench jeweler, particularly jewelers interested in learning CAD programs. They can also provide classes in reading blueprints and shop theory. However, most jewelers gain experience through on-the-job training that spans several months to one year. If bench jewelers wish to pursue design, they can obtain a bachelor's or master's degree in fine arts and focus on jewelry design.
Certification is not required, though it may demonstrate to potential employers that a job candidate holds a high degree of professionalism and dedication. Jewelers of America is a professional organization that offers four levels of certification to qualified jewelers, such as the Certified Bench Jeweler Technician, Certified Bench Jeweler, Certified Senior Bench Jeweler and Certified Master Bench Jeweler.
Candidates are expected to have work experience equal to the level of certification. All four certifications require passing a practical as well as written exam. Exams reflect varying levels of mastery in all areas of bench jeweler expertise.
Bench jewelers work for jewelry stores where they maintain, fix, fit, and create jewelry. Postsecondary education or on-the-job training is required, and certification is available based on level of expertise.