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Working As a Jewelry Maker

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Getting Information
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $36,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Jewelry Maker Do

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design, manufacture, and sell jewelry. They also adjust, repair, and appraise gems and jewelry.

Duties

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers typically do the following:

  • Create jewelry from precious metals and stones
  • Examine and grade diamonds and other gems
  • Clean and polish jewelry using polishing wheels and chemical baths
  • Repair jewelry by replacing broken clasps, altering ring sizes, or resetting stones
  • Smooth joints and rough spots and polish smoothed areas
  • Compute the costs of labor and material for new pieces and repairs
  • Model new pieces with carved wax or computer-aided design, and then cast them in metal
  • Shape metal to hold the gems in pieces of jewelry
  • Solder pieces together and insert stones

Technology is helping to produce high-quality jewelry at a reduced cost and in less time than traditional methods allow. For example, lasers are often used for cutting and improving the quality of stones, for intricate engraving or design work, and for inscribing personal messages on jewelry. Jewelers also use lasers to weld metals together without seams or blemishes, improving the quality and appearance of jewelry.

Some manufacturing firms use computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) to make product design easier and to automate some steps. With CAD, jewelers can create a model of a piece of jewelry on a computer and then view the effect of changing different aspects—for example, the design, the stone, or the setting—before cutting a stone or taking other costly steps. With CAM, they can then create a mold of the piece, which makes producing many copies easy.

Some jewelers also use CAD software to design custom jewelry. They let the customer review the design on a computer and see the effect of changes, so that the customer is satisfied before committing to the expense of a customized piece of jewelry.

The following are examples of types of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers:

Precious metal workers expertly manipulate gold, silver, and other metals. They use pliers and other hand tools to shape and manipulate metal. Some may mix alloy ingredients according to metallurgical properties.

Gemologists analyze, describe, and certify the quality and characteristics of gemstones. After using microscopes, computerized tools, and other grading instruments to examine gemstones or finished pieces of jewelry, they write reports certifying that the items are of a particular quality. Most gemologists have completed the Graduate Gemologist program through the Gemological Institute of America.

Jewelry appraisers carefully examine jewelry to determine its value and then write appraisal documents. They determine value by researching the jewelry market and by using reference books, auction catalogs, price lists, and the Internet. They may work for jewelry stores, appraisal firms, auction houses, pawnbrokers, or insurance companies. Many gemologists also become appraisers.

Bench jewelers usually work for jewelry retailers, doing tasks ranging from simple jewelry cleaning and repair to making molds and pieces from scratch.

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How To Become A Jewelry Maker

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers can enter the occupation on the basis of their education, which is typically earning a high school diploma, or receive on-the-job training, or a combination of the two.

Education

Although most jewelers and precious stone and metal workers have a high school diploma, many trade schools offer courses for workers who seek additional education. Course topics can include introduction to gems and metals, resizing, repair, and computer-aided design (CAD). Programs vary from 6 months to 1 year, and many teach students how to design, cast, set, and polish jewelry and gems, as well as how to use and care for a jeweler’s tools and equipment. Graduates of these programs may be more attractive to employers because they require less on-the-job training. Many gemologists graduate from the Gemological Institute of America. Trade programs usually require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Some jewelers learn on the job. For example, in jewelry manufacturing plants, workers develop their skills through on-the-job training. The length of training required to become proficient depends on the difficulty of the specialty. Training usually focuses on casting, setting stones, making models, or engraving.

Other Experience

Some workers gain their skills through related work experience. This may include working alongside a bench jeweler or gemologist while performing the duties of a sales person in a retail jewelry store. Time spent in a store with a bench jeweler or gemologist can provide valuable experience.

Advancement

In manufacturing, some jewelers advance to supervisory jobs, such as master jeweler or head jeweler. Jewelers who work in jewelry stores or repair shops may become managers.

Important Qualities

Artistic ability. Jewelers must have the ability to create designs that are unique and beautiful.

Detail oriented. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must pay attention to large and small details on the pieces they make.

Dexterity. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must precisely move their fingers and tools in order to grasp, manipulate, and assemble very small objects.

Fashion sense. Jewelry designers must know what is stylish and attractive and presently in demand by consumers.

Interpersonal skills. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers interact with customers, whether they sell products in stores or at craft shows.

Near vision. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers need the ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Visualization skills. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must imagine how something might look after its shape is altered or when its parts are rearranged.

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Jewelry Maker Typical Career Paths

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Top Skills for A Jewelry Maker

  1. Customer Service
  2. Jewelry Sales
  3. Handmade Jewelry
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Assisted in managing jewelry orders for over 70 stores; Called on retail stores with customer service and delivery.
  • Responded to written email and telephone requests for jewelry sales.
  • Created jewelry business designing my handmade jewelry.
  • Render custom orders Create sketches for consideration Assist in merchandising display at trade shows Assist stringer Select stones for designs
  • Introduced new designs that were effectively marketed and sold.

Jewelry Maker Demographics

Gender

Female

59.6%

Male

21.1%

Unknown

19.3%
Ethnicity

White

62.2%

Hispanic or Latino

15.0%

Black or African American

9.6%

Asian

9.0%

Unknown

4.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

German

8.3%

Japanese

8.3%

French

8.3%

Armenian

8.3%

Russian

8.3%

Italian

8.3%
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Jewelry Maker Education

Schools

Springfield Technical Community College

6.7%

Savannah College of Art and Design

6.7%

Bard College

6.7%

Stark State College

6.7%

Pikes Peak Community College

6.7%

California State University - Long Beach

6.7%

Eastern Illinois University

6.7%

American InterContinental University

6.7%

Saddleback College

6.7%

Metropolitan State University

6.7%

University of Southern Maine

3.3%

Kenneth Shuler School of Cosmetology

3.3%

Vaca Valley Adult School-California State Prison,Solano

3.3%

College of Lake County

3.3%

TESST College of Technology - Alexandria

3.3%

Art Institutes International Minnesota

3.3%

Santa Fe Community College

3.3%

Trinity College

3.3%

Western Carolina University

3.3%

University of Massachusetts - Boston

3.3%
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Majors

Business

15.8%

Graphic Design

10.5%

Psychology

9.5%

Fine Arts

7.4%

Education

7.4%

Sociology

5.3%

Communication

5.3%

English

4.2%

Cosmetology

4.2%

General Studies

4.2%

Culinary Arts

3.2%

Marketing

3.2%

Photography

3.2%

Medical Assisting Services

3.2%

Computer Science

3.2%

Architectural Technology

2.1%

Animal Science

2.1%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.1%

Mathematics

2.1%

Biology

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.8%

Other

32.3%

Associate

11.2%

Certificate

8.1%

Masters

5.0%

Diploma

1.9%

License

1.2%

Doctorate

0.6%
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Updated May 19, 2020