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Jewelry Maker Degree Programs with Career Info

Jewelry maker degree programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. All programs feature a strong hands-on studio component to provide students with the skills they need to produce a variety of accessories.

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Essential Information

Jewelry makers are responsible for the creative and technical aspects of jewelry production. Many also market and sell their own creations. Studies in the field are available at associate's, bachelor's and master's levels. Entry requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, creative portfolio, standardized test scores, as well as a bachelor's degree for entry onto a master's program. Some programs may offer courses online.


Associate's Degree in Jewelry Design

Two-year associate's degree programs in jewelry design offer students a chance to learn the skills of jewelry makers, from design to manufacturing to marketing. Students learn about metals and gemstones through both classroom study and hands-on experience. To ensure the relevance of their own creations, students are taught about the history of jewelry styles and current industry trends. Jewelry design associate's degree programs also teach business skills such as visual display techniques and pricing strategies. Common courses include:

  • History of jewelry design
  • Stonesetting
  • Metalsmithing
  • Gemology
  • Jewelry presentation techniques
  • Computer-aided jewelry design

Bachelor's Degree in Jewelry Design

Bachelor's degree programs in jewelry design, often available as Bachelor of Fine Arts programs, are intended for students with an interest in the business and the art of jewelry creation. Throughout this 4-year program, students work extensively in art studios, learning to conceptualize pieces and then produce their visions. In addition to hands-on work with metals and gemstones, students used computer software to develop their ideas. Many programs include a metalsmithing component. Students can expect to be offered the following courses:

  • Introduction to jewelry design
  • 2D and 3D design
  • Metals and jewelry rendering
  • Glassworking and metalsmithing
  • Enameling for jewelers
  • Computer-aided jewelry design

Master's Degree in Jewelry Design

Master's degree programs in jewelry design--often offered as Master of Fine Arts degrees--provide experienced students with opportunities for advanced experimentation and research. Students develop their technical and creative skills through studio work, while also cultivating a strong understanding of the art through classroom study and independent research. These programs may take up to three years to complete. Courses include topics such as:

  • Jewelry studio design
  • Jewelry design theory
  • Advanced metalsmithing
  • History of jewelry
  • Art criticism
  • Current issues in jewelry design

Popular Career Options

Graduates of associate's degree programs in jewelry design can become jewelry makers or work with jewelry in the following roles:

  • Jewelry store salesperson
  • Department store jewelry specialist
  • Jewelry importer
  • Jewelry appraiser

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in jewelry design may work with many different styles of jewelry in positions such as the following:

  • Commercial jewelry maker
  • Costume jewelry maker
  • Custom jewelry designer
  • Jewelry buyer
  • Jewelry appraiser

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

Jewelry makers and other precious stone and metal workers held approximately 25,300 jobs in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Around 4 in 10 of these workers were self-employed, including independent jewelry makers, jewelry store owners and repair shop owners. From 2014 to 2024, employment in the jewelry profession is expected to decline by 11%, according to the BLS. Jewelers and related workers earned a median annual salary of $37,060 in 2015 (www.bls.gov).

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Certification is not a requirement to become a professional jewelry maker. However, Jewelers of America offers credentialing at multiple levels in order to provide advancement opportunities and evidence of training for jewelers. Certification can be pursued by bench jewelers, jewelry salespeople and jewelry company managers. The master's degree in jewelry design is widely considered to be the field's terminal degree.

Prospective jewelry makers can undertake a degree program in jewelry design at an associate's, bachelor's or master's level. Common career options within the field include jewelry salesperson and jewelry appraiser, as well as custom jewelry designer and jewelry buyer.

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