Tammy Powley is About.com's Guide to Jewelry Making, a jewelry designer, and a teacher.
Have you ever wanted to make a career out of your passion for making jewelry? The world of jewelry designing has just about as many career possibilities as it does different jewelry making techniques. While most jewelry designers become primarily focused on selling their creations, you may be surprised to discover that there's more to the jewelry world than just making and selling the finished product.
There are a variety of career opportunities out there, ranging from the traditional bench jeweler to the high-end accessories buyer. Here are some jewelry-related careers you may want to consider if you've been thinking of joining the working world as a jewelry professional.
If you have ever dropped off a piece of jewelry for repair at your local jewelry shop, more than likely your repair was done by what is referred to as a bench jeweler. Bench jewelers are the backbone of any fine jewelry shop. The education level required can vary, but generally, they must have some kind of technical training and certification. Bench jeweler's primarily work on repairs (the shop's bread and butter work), but they are also highly skilled craftspeople and can create just about any type of jewelry design requested. The pay is normally hourly and the range can vary considerably depending on location and years of experience.
In some cases, bench jewelers may be paid by volume, especially in places that focus primarily on repairs. Because repairs are such a huge part of most mainstream jewelry shops, it is also not unusual for shop owners to higher freelance bench jewelers on occasion. The one drawback for bench jewelers is that the creative side of the job may be lacking for someone with a more artistic bend, but skilled bench jewelers are often in demand.
Jewelry Sales Rep
Large manufacturers as well as independent designers often higher jewelry sales reps to find retail outlets for their products. Though some reps will specialize in jewelry, most will also offer related accessories such as belts, hats, and shoes. Their job is to locate and secure accounts from retailers. These can include department stores and privately own boutiques.
This position requires knowledge of fashion trends as well as the products being sold, and of course, sales savvy. For example, if a rep is selling gemstone jewelry, then she'll need to have a working-knowledge of stones. It also requires a good deal of travel since the more territory covered can mean more sales for both parties. The rep will make a percentage of these sales, normally about 15 percent, and work on a contract basis. For information on how to higher a sales rep to sell your jewelry designs, see the article Hunting Down a Sales Rep.
Most large department stores or chain stores will have employees that specialize in buying jewelry merchandise to be sold in their stores. This is a salaried position that not only requires jewelry and fashion knowledge but a feel for future trends since products must be purchased months in advance to be available during certain shopping seasons.
This means they are accountable for sales to a certain extent because if items don't sell, then that means they probably did not project the trends well enough. Some travel may be necessary since they have to become familiar with jewelry collections from various suppliers, many of which are located overseas. Most employers prefer candidates with a four year degree in something related such as marketing, business, or fashion merchandising.
Company Jewelry Designer
This position is one of the most coveted. Who wouldn't love to have someone pay you to design jewelry and not have to deal with selling the finished pieces? It is coveted, true, but demanding as well.
A professional jewelry designer must have a working (as in hands-on) knowledge of jewelry making techniques and materials; years of experience in the industry; and contacts and familiarity in collaborating with overseas partners who would produce her designs. Of course, this means at least a small percentage of the time you would need to travel to these overseas partners. Generally speaking when a company is ready to pay you to design for them they are looking for someone who is already solidly established in the industry. For more information on becoming a jewelry designer see my article, I Want to Be a Jewelry Designer.
More Jewelry Career Options: Jewelry Industry Jobs.