Routes Into Becoming a Jeweller
If you thought that doing a degree was the only way to become a jeweller then think again!
There are now lots of routes into making jewellery your career but it can feel a bit overwhelming to choose the right path for you so I’m here to help make things clearer...
Have a look at some of the questions you need to ask yourself and then see which option will work best for you.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What is your goal?
- What is your vision for what you’ll be doing when you become a jeweller?
- Do you want to start your own business?
- Would you prefer to work for someone else?
- Design jewellery to be manufactured?
- Would you like to work in fine jewellery?
- Wedding jewellery?
- Sell online?
- Open a shop?
- Sell at craft fairs?
Think carefully about your aims and goals. The clearer you can be about what you want and don’t want the better for making the right education choice for you.
How much time do you have?
Will you need to work or care for others while you’re studying or can you study full time? Are you impatient to get started or happy to learn over a longer period?
How much money do you have?
Consider how much you can realistically spend. You don’t have to get into debt to learn jewellery making.
The most traditional route is to take a jewellery degree after your school education although you can take a degree at any stage of your life. These degrees tend to be three-year full-time courses and are often in the more traditional jewellery making methods of silver and silversmithing. While this is an immersive way to learn and develop your skills, in England and Wales the cost of tuition fees is high and there are more cost and time effective ways of learning jewellery making.
Although there are moves to change some courses, the majority of degree courses focus on making and don’t cover business skills.
If you feel you would like to do a degree then you need to do your research:
Check the content of the course and see that it covers what you want to learn. Degree courses can vary in content and quality so make sure you are sure that the course is for you before committing to it.
Crunch the numbers - how much will it cost you in fees? How much will materials for the course be? What will you need to budget for living costs?
Apprenticeships and Entry Level Jobs:
An apprenticeship is an opportunity where you can learn on the job while being paid. Traditionally an apprentice will also be working towards a qualification in jewellery making although in practice there aren’t that many of these opportunities around.
You can look at an apprenticeship with the British Academy of Jewellers or you could approach local jewellers to see if they are willing to take on an apprentice.
Traditional apprenticeships are few and far between now in jewellery and are now more likely to be an entry level benchwork job where you will be trained to do a specific task or tasks. Usually, anyone taking on someone for this type of role would expect you to have undertaken some initial training already (see the options below).
As with everything it will depend on who you go to work for and the type of work they do. Some people end up doing a lot of jewellery repairs or repeatedly making the same items but there could be scope to use this experience to set up your own business in the future.
To find these types of opportunities make sure you’re subscribed to Benchpeg newsletter (online) as this is where jewellers are likely to advertise. Also, do a web search for jewellers in your local area and approach them to see if they have any work available - particularly at busy times like the run-up to Christmas. You may get a temporary opportunity that turns into a more permanent offer.
A jewellery diploma tends to be a shorter course than a degree course and often focuses on learning and developing new skills. Here at the London Jewellery School we offer a one-year Diploma course where students come in one day a week to work with expert tutors. We focus on teaching the jewellery making skills you need. Numbers are kept low and we work to help people who want to start and run their own jewellery businesses so do cover topics like how to run a business and jewellery photography alongside the making courses. We also give Diploma students 1 years membership to our sister company Jewellers Academy to help build contacts, community and learn about the latest business and marketing strategies working for jewellers.
Take a look at Jewellery Diploma courses in your area. Find out all you can about them, visit the studio, talk with the tutors and ensure that it is the right fit for you.
Many people start with jewellery making by taking an evening class or short courses and then practice at home.
Look at local options to learn jewellery making, or come along to one of our day classes at the London Jewellery School.
But what if there aren’t any classes near where you live? Or you just don’t have the time to fit in a regular class?
Then check online learning options. At our sister company, Jewellers Academy, we have filmed a number of courses from beginners to more advanced learners. You can choose just one online course or become a Jewellers Academy member and get access to all of them.
Typically, our members are running or plan to start their own jewellery business so you’ll be in good company!
Try out some of the free courses on offer first to see if they suit you and then take the plunge!
You may decide to teach yourself using books, magazines, and online sources. This is the way many of us start out but can be a bit of trial and error so I suggest to accelerate your learning do take a course or two to help you fill in the gaps that only a more experienced practitioner can.
In my experience, self-taught is the slowest route and can be the most frustrating! It is the one where people are liable to give up before they’ve given it a chance so if you are on this route top up your skills regularly with online courses and join some groups for accountability and motivation.
Whatever you decide will work for you, maybe a combination of options, I wish you well in your jewellery making journey!
If you have any questions about your jewellery career you can book a free advice session with a member of the London Jewellery School team at firstname.lastname@example.org
In these, we will help you to understand the industry and what training options (ours or others) will work best for you.
Feel free to share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.