The best way to approach a potential employer is to go talk to them
and tell them your story. Jewelers are people too, and most want
employees who are as excited about jewelry as you are. Now, if you
expect to get anywhere, then you will want to make up some kind of
resume emphasizing your creativity and potential attributes.
Before you go, decide what you ultimately want to be doing with your
jewelry making ambition. Do you want to make your own designs? Do
you want to make custom pieces? Do you just want to repair jewelry?
By determining what you want to get out of a job long term you will
avoid wasting your time at a place where your desires don’t mesh
with the owner’s. A retailer will probably want to know this to
establish how dedicated you will be and how long your interest will
be maintained at their bench.
Then you have to find out what the retail jeweler will expect from
you. A retailer needs a dependable worker who can do what they need
to have done, when they need it done. One retailer may employ one
jeweler who is expected to do everything, while you have other
stores who will have jewelers who, more ore less, specialize. Some
will have jewelers who do easier work: sizing, chains, tightening
clasps, polishing, checking stone tightness and cleaning; another
jeweler who does intermediate work: light custom jobs, more
difficult repair; and may even have a very experienced jeweler who
is asked to do everything. Many stores have work that is jobbed out
to a trade shop or contract custom jeweler. There is nothing better
than working with other experienced bench jewelers!
If you are just looking to get in on the ground floor it may be
difficult. This is because there are many workers in the
marketplace who are extremely fast (sometimes, if not usually, at
the expense of quality), who work for very competitive wages and
require no training. It is very difficult for adult beginners to
compete in this scenario. So, I would never offer to work for
little or nothing, even for a short, predetermined period of time.
All this will do is show that you are willing to work for little or
nothing at all.
If you want to do more demanding jobs you will have to have more
skill and also be willing to do some grunt work because there is not
always more demanding work to do. Every beginner discovers that
there is a very short, intense period of time where you learn a lot.
As you progress, skills take longer to perfect, become more complex
and require more tools and equipment. Some jewelers stop learning
at this point. So a determined goldsmith can make a place for
themselves if they have the time, and sometimes personal capital to
invest in their trade. You may even want to try to learn some
aspect of goldsmithing that will provide an employer with an
advantage; casting, wax carving or rendering come to mind.
The question is, will you have a store in your area that will take
someone in at your level? You may have to be willing to do non
bench work like replacing batteries, sales and repair take-in. An
enthusiastic beginner may be offered a sales job if a bench position
isn’t available. The individual jeweler has to decide whether this
will lead to a bench position or is a dead end. It may offer a way
to stay in the industry and make a decent wage while honing bench
skills at home or during slow periods in the store.
I wouldn’t hesitate to see if there are any designers or craft
jewelers in your area who may need a bench worker. They are
typically more difficult to find but may be more willing to take in
people who need a little training, especially if there is any hope
that the potential worker will have some loyalty and willingness to
stay with them after training is over. When you speak to retailers
ask if they know of any designers or goldsmiths in your area who may
need a potential worker.
Of course in this economy it may be hard to find work in the field
anyway. But it won’t hurt to get your name out there to see what is
Good luck. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to email