If you are interested in jewelry design and repair, you may consider a career as a bench jeweler. Bench jewelers are responsible for fixing damaged jewelry, resetting stones, cleaning pieces and engraving. Here you will find more about the work of jewelers, and the requirements for becoming one.
Designing and repairing jewelry are two of the primary responsibilities for many jewelers. Interested individuals can train through an apprenticeship, a post secondary degree, or various certification preparation options as well as specialized computer-aided design and manufacturing courses.
|Required Education||No formal education required, optional associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees; certificate programs are available|
|Other Requirements||Apprenticeship and on-the-job training|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||-7% (jewelers and precious stone and metal workers)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$39,440 (jewelers and precious stone and metal workers)*|
Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Training for Jewelry Design and Repair
Though vocational education programs can offer classes useful to jewelers, such as blueprint reading and shop theory, many jewelers get their training through on-the-job apprenticeships. By working under an experienced jeweler, novice jewelers can learn to repair damaged jewelry, including broken clasps or chain links. They also learn to reset loose gems as well as clean and polish tarnished jewelry without damaging it.
One educational option for students interested in jewelry design is a 2-year associate degree that includes coursework in design drawing, sculpting and model casting. Some programs also offer internship options in top jewelry retail and manufacturing companies. Many 4-year bachelor's degree and 2-year master's degree programs in fine arts also offer coursework in jewelry design, including fashion jewelry, custom jewelry and metalworking. These programs are offered in classroom format as well as online.
Those interested in studying jewelry design might also benefit from courses in computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD and CAM). Using CAD allows jewelers to see their designs as a computer-generated 3D model before casting the jewelry mold. CAM streamlines the production process by automating some of its procedures. Certificates in CAD and CAM training sequences can typically be completed in one semester.
Certification is not usually required, although some employers may prefer it. Jewelers of America offers several certification options, and each certification level requires candidates to pass a written and a practical exam.
The Certified Bench Jeweler Technician designation is available to any entry-level jeweler and expects candidates to have only one year of work experience. The Certified Bench Jeweler designation tests repair and design skills equal to about two years of work experience. The Certified Senior Bench Jeweler assumes proficiency in the first two certification levels as well as some other areas of expertise. The highest certification is the Certified Master Bench Jeweler, which assumes mastery in a wide range of skill areas.
Most jewelers involved in jewelry design and repair are referred to as bench jewelers. In small retail jewelry shops, bench jewelers are responsible for a variety of duties including cleaning, polishing, engraving and mold-making as well. In larger companies, these duties might be divided up among jewelers who specialize in each skill.
Working in jewelry design and repair requires a high degree of skill and precision and many employers have difficulty finding jewelers with the necessary training. As a result, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predits job prospects to decline between 2018 and 2028. An overall decline in employment is expected during this time frame (www.bls.gov). Additionally, jewelers who have completed training programs and who have experience are more likely to find employment. 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.
Individuals who repair and design jewelry have typically received on-the-job training through an apprenticeship. Training programs in this field are available, where students learn drawing, sculpting, model casting, metalworking, and the use of computer-aided design and merchandising software. Voluntary certification is also available in the field.