What is it Like to Be a Jewelry Designer?
Jewelry designers work with precious metals, gems, and stones, and create imaginative, unique pieces that please customers and have mass appeal. While about half of jewelry designers are self-employed, selling their wares independently at events or in boutiques, the other half, work for fashion accessory manufacturers. Jewelry designers must understand and anticipate trends in the marketplace, which involves a lot of research about fashion and the market value of gems and metals. And, of course, they need to have not only an artistic sensibility, but good hand-eye coordination and a talent for doing intricate work by hand and with small tools.
Should I Earn a Jewelry Design Degree?
Traditionally, jewelry design has been a self-taught or apprenticeship trade, with no formal training involved. However, because jewelry design programs teach students how to use important tools, how to purchase gems and stones, and even certain business skills, a jewelry design degree or certificate may enhance your employment opportunities with retailers, wholesalers, or manufacturers, or even as you pursue self-employment. Such a program would provide training in jewelry making, setting and polishing stones, use and care of equipment, and grading and identification of stones.
Career Outlook for Jewelry Designers
Most fashion jewelry and precious gemstones are imported, which may continue to slow job growth in this field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5 percent job growth through 2018?this is slower than average for all fields. The median annual salary for jewelry design jobs in May 2008 was $32,940.