I’ve been interested in the jewelry business all my life but never pursued it seriously until now. The possibilities of working with gold, silver, and gems to create jewelry fascinate me. But as a profession, this is a new area for me. I want to learn how to work in the field not just for enjoyment but to make a living. I’m starving for information on getting started in the jewelry business. How do I learn to work with gold, silver, and gemstones? Where do I start?
There are so many ways to enter the jewelry business. I began by making shell necklaces for the tourist trade in Hawaii. Many years later, after a period of disability, I got back to work by custom gem cutting. The paths are almost as diverse as the people who follow them. Some jewelers run retail stores, websites, or television shows. Others supply products or services to the retailers. Some specialize in repair work.
The International Gem Society (IGS) has abundant resources for learning about gemology and metalsmithing. I’d advise you to learn as much as you can about gemstones. If you’re going to work in the jewelry business, you’ll need to know how to identify the gems you’ll be handling as well as how best to use them in your creations. The IGS also offers an online gemology course.
You should try different jewelry making techniques and styles, so you can learn which suits your personality best. You may find you have a talent for wire wrapping or lost wax casting. This will help you refine your approach.
When you’ve finished jewelry pieces that you’re satisfied with, show them around. Get feedback from your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Take them to your local jewelry stores and, humbly, ask their opinion. This may open doors that you never expected. Only by getting out and asking around will you hear about opportunities for your future.
When you’re starting out, it’s important to realize that in the jewelry business, you don’t make money creating beautiful jewelry. You make money selling it. All the talent in the world won’t make you a penny until you show it to others.
Donald Clark, CSM IMG