Jewelry designers typically work with gemstones and precious metals in order to build various pieces of wearable art. The designer may be responsible for building a unique, custom jewelry item for a high-end jewelry store, or a whole line for a fashion designer’s use. You can also build and sell your own jewelry, or offer your services to repair or modify already-cut pieces.
If you’re looking to build your career in this field, the following are the most important steps to follow:
While you don’t need to have formal education to excel, you can take a relevant vocational training course. There are jewelry design degree programs in liberal arts institutions, fashion colleges and universities where you can start off if you want formal training. Higher-end employers prefer hiring graduates from vocational training since these usually need less on-the-job training. Ensure that the curriculum has a balanced representation on both theoretical and practical aspects of the trade.
During training, you will learn the basics on analyzing shapes and casting stones through soldering, sculpting and metalwork courses. You will also cover more specific courses like gemology, fashion history, costume jewelry, jewelry sculpture and others in order to build you as a well-rounded individual.
Take this time to build your professional portfolio: every finished piece can count for something. This will demonstrate to potential clients and employers your artistic expression and design abilities. Even after leaving, ensure you add each sketch and rendering to your portfolio. You can always take them out later once you have more substantial work to show off.
Learn computer-aided design (CAD) which is very valuable to jewelry makers. Artists typically use CAD software to find out design options and work out accurate aesthetic measurements. CAD will likely be part of a degree program, but if you’re taking a short course, you may have to do it on the side.
2. Learning the business side
Apart from your creativity and technical abilities, it’s important to keep abreast with business best practices and industry standards applicable to your practicing area. You should know about market analysis, base pricing, gemstone grading, production costs and diamond women jewelry trends among others.
If you want to become a freelance designer, take advantage of professional and educational jewelry associations like the GIA and MJSA where you can build useful contacts. Leverage online articles and other sources of information to learn all you can about the jewelry business, since this immediately affects your source of livelihood.
3. Building your name
Think about entering jewelry competitions in order to gain exposure in the industry and also to find out where the trends are headed for greater success. There are many competitions such as the AJDC New Talent Competition, which are held annually and adjudicated by the most recognized designers in the industry. Even aside from winning, participation alone can give you an invaluable opportunity to cultivate connections that will be useful as you advance your career.