Getting Started in the Jewelry Trade


shell jewelry - jewelry trade
There are many ways of getting into the jewelry trade. Two key things novices need to understand to succeed: get to know your materials and get ready to sell your creations and your talent. “Shell On A String,” photo by Rojer. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Question

I’ve been interested in the jewelry trade 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 trade. How do I learn to work with gold, silver, and gemstones? Where do I start?

 Ricky

Answer

There are so many ways to enter the jewelry trade. 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.

Learning About Gems and Metalsmithing

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 trade, 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.

Making Money Selling Your Jewelry

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 trade, 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

Lost wax casting - jewelry trade
Lost wax casting is an ancient technique still used today by jewelry makers to create intricate and unique metal pieces. “Carving for Lost Wax Casting,” photo and jewelry by Jessa and Mark Anderson. Licensed under CC By 2.0.