A jewelry designer fashions jewelry using gold, silver, platinum and gemstones. You will make the framework for the piece you are making and use molds to create decorative details for the piece. You will also solder and polish the pieces you make, set stones and perform electroplating, welding and engraving procedures to come up with the final product.
Jewelry designers these days are also using technology to their advantage. Instead of cutting stone and molding the metal to see what the finished piece looks like, you will now use computer-aided design software programs to first make a model of the jewelry before any physical work is done on metal. This makes the work less expensive and allows clients to approve it and make the necessary changes on the design or the stone used before work on the piece is started. Meanwhile, jewelry designers who work with companies engaged in the mass production of jewelry pieces also use computer-aided manufacturing which enables them to produce just one mold of a particular design and use it to reproduce the pieces.
You now have better tools to make your pieces come to life nowadays. For example, you can use lasers to join together two metals to create seamless work. This makes jewelry look better and more even.
To succeed in this profession, you need to have a good sense of fashion and style. Customers will buy what appeals to their sense of aesthetics and personal taste and as such, they need to know what is and what isn’t fashionable. You also need to have an eye for detail and be able to concentrate for long periods of time. Jewelry pieces are very intricate and require careful attention on how the stones are set, for example, requiring you to be very exacting on even the smallest details.
Jewelry designers have to assemble small jewelry pieces with their hands so you need to possess excellent finger dexterity. Manipulating the designs on rings, necklaces and bracelets also requires someone who has good hand-eye coordination so you need to possess this as well. Although software programs now make it easy to visualize how metal and precious stones will look like when they are fused together, having the ability to conceptualize and visualize a design even when it is not even drawn on paper or on the computer is an important skill that you need to cultivate. Creativity and imagination enable jewelry designers to make long and lasting pieces that will stand the test of time.
Becoming a jewelry designer is obviously not a job for everybody. However, it is the perfect career for those who are looking to fuse their love for jewelry with its actual crafting and making. Nothing could be more fulfilling than knowing that it was your talent and creativity that resulted to having a formless metal made into a jewelry piece that is proudly worn by a client. On the more practical side, jewelry designers get the chance to actually create their own jewelry line after sufficient work experience.
Jewelry Designer Work Environment
Jewelry designers who are salaried work for jewelry stores and jewelry manufacturers. Many of them are self-employed and design their own jewelry from home. They then sell these in craft shows or online.
A jewelry designer’s office is his or her workbench which is equipped with various tools and chemicals that they use for the trade. Jeweler’s torches, lasers and other tools and supplies are within easy reach. Today, computers equipped with computer-aided design programs are also becoming more common in the jewelry designer’s work table. They need to handle their tools and chemicals with care to prevent injuries.
Since jewelry is expensive, jewelry designers also need to have security procedures in place to prevent burglaries and theft of their finished products. Those who work in large jewelry stores may have to do their work in guarded premises.
Jewelry Designer Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically gather salary data specifically for jewelry designers. However, the Occupational Employment and Wages report of the agency has wage data on jewelers and precious stone and metal workers where jewelry designers belong to. Based on that report, jewelers and precious stone and metal workers earn a mean annual wage of $40,010.
Jewelry Designer Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a not very promising job outlook for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers, of which jewelry designers are a part, in the next few years. From 2012 to 2022, government data showed a 10 percent decline in the occupation due to the fact that the manufacturing of jewelry is not anymore done in the United States but outside the country.
Jewelry designers who are skilled at what they do and have experience in the field should still be able to find jobs. They may also be able to have a customer base if they establish their own boutique jewelry line but they should know beforehand that there is tough competition in this field.
Jewelry Designer Degree
Traditionally, jewelers learned their craft through on-the-job training. However, courses on jewelry design and production are being offered in trade schools nowadays. Courses taught in these programs include jewelry design, casting, setting and polishing. They also have classes on the use and care for the tools and equipment of their profession. These programs take anywhere from six months to a full year to complete.
Despite the formal lessons gleaned through these courses, jewelry designers still benefit from work experience in a jewelry store or jewelry manufacturing company. The skills and insights that are imparted by an experienced jeweler or gemologist (an expert at gemstones) are valuable especially if a jewelry designer intends to start his own jewelry line in the future. If this is the path they want to take, jewelry designers should also take up courses in business and marketing so they can make their business thrive in a highly-competitive industry.