Bench jeweler's appropriate starting wage?

Hi All,

I’m wondering what is an appropriate wage for a starting (but has
schooling/basic skills) bench jeweler. What is an acceptable living
wage for this? I’d like to hear honest input from both employers and
employees, please also mention where in the country you are working,


Here in Portland Oregon the starting wage in wholesale trade shops is
about 10 bucks an hour. Journeyman wages are about 20 bucks an hour.
Now whether or not 10 bucks an hour is a living wage is another
discussion. When I started, I was paid about 3 bucks an hour for a
year or so. We were expected to to take 5 years to get the basics
and another 5 to get good at it. So wages were held low until we
could make the boss real money.


Your questions make no sense without knowing where you are located.
A living wage in my city of Cambridge, MA is far higher than a
location in North Dakota. A living wage in NYC is far higher than in
my city of Cambridge. Most jewelers coming out of the North Bennet
Street School in Boston seem to think $18-20/hour is a starting wage,
but I wouldn’t pay someone that until they worked for me long enough
to know what their true skill level was. Bigger stores will be able
to pay more than me, but they wouldn’t offer the experience I might.
So then the question becomes is the particular experience (or work
environment—which varies widely from store to store) worth more
than the higher wage (at least at the beginning)?

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Hi Kay

Jewelers of America does a business survey every year.

“Average” wage for a jeweler is $38,000, give or take. AS low as
about $25,000 and as high as $60,000.

I’ve seen people with “basic” skills (can repair MOST things, can
assemble a casted items and head, not a great channel or bead setter)
get paid about $12-$15 an hour.

Carve some wax? $18 and hour.

Darn good at what you do, typical is $20-$25 an hour. Across the
USA. California “typically” pays 20% more than the rest of the

I’ve seen small towns pay $45,000-$55,000 as they can’t get

Last year I had my store in Atlanta (1999) I paid 100% commission to
my jewelers. W-2’s that year were (Approx)


Hope that helps you.


P.S. I never said it was great wages to live on. Most retail store
owners don’t understand money. Just what goes OUT.

David Geller

Hi Kay, I am in midst of making a survey to respond to those exact
questions. We have been teaching bench jewelers for 30 years and the
surveys out there are usually a few years old. When they get
completed, they get published in a special edition of a magazine and
it takes awhile.

I hope lots of people respond to this post as well as my survey when
I get it out there, it is good to know also, this survey will not
show me who responded, all will be anonymous.

You may also contact me off line at 800-731-1122 or email. We do
have results from several areas

Best regards, Dee