Definition of jeweler?

What is your definition of jeweler? goldsmith? artist? craftsperson?

I am currently teaching a class on Craft Business at Maine College
of Art. In a discussion last week the question was posed as to
"when is someone a jeweler"? Now I would like to share the
collective knowledge and input from the Orchid membership as to what
they call themselves and why.

Marlene Richey
Jewelry Business Consultant
Owner - William Richey Designs

Marlene, During my apprenticeship, I was told I could start calling
myself a Jeweler when I could correct any screw-up I caused. I still
love to tell all beginner craftspeople that definition. And, twenty
years later, I’m still waiting for the day I can call myself a

John Sholl
Littleton, Colorado

Whenever I used to tell someone I was a jeweler, they 'd pull out a
watch to be repaired. Now when someone asks me what I do, I tell
them, “I’m a goldsmith, I make jewelry…” That says it for me.
-BK in AK

When someone asks “what do you do?”, I usually reply that I am a
designer/goldsmith. I think that it most accurately describes what I

Joel Schwalb

Don, I thoroughly enjoyed your definitions! While trying to figure
out my ‘Artist’s Statement’ I found my own very personal definition
of the difference between an Artist and a Craftsman.

A Craftsman will learn a set of skills in a particular field and
will hone those skills to the highest rate possible. Most of what a
Craftsman makes is functional. When they are no longer able to
perform in their chosen field, they may choose to learn new skills in
a new field, but are just as likely to ‘retire’ to a non-physically
creative field.

An Artist will create ‘things’ - functional or not. They will use
whatever tools and skills are available, whether or not they are
expert or even intend to use those skills in the future. If they find
they can no longer use skills in a particular field, they find a
workaround so that they can continue to create. Manet creating torn
paper collages in the hospital during his final illness is an
excellent example.

Working through that helped me decide that I am myself an Artist
currently working in Jewelry…making wearable stuff in precious and
semi-precious materials but just as likely to be working in leather,
plaster, fabric or who-knows-what two or three years from now!

marlene - while working with ‘at risk’ preteen girls one of them
asked me “what is imagination?” my personal definition could be
applied to the design & creation of jewelry:

“to see what others cannot, or do not, is ‘imagination’.
to make others see what it is that you see is ‘talent’.
to make others understand what they see is ‘creativity’.”

what term other than ‘artist’ describes one who transcribes a design
from the brain into 3-dimensional actuality? is not a jeweler who
cuts, carves and polishes stone, welds and forges metals a
’sculptor’? and then to marry the metal, mineral, and mind into
something greater than its parts deserves better recognition than a
’crafter.’ i’ve suspected for some time that show judges/jurists
might be responsible for the ‘serration schizophrenia’. speaking of
judges here’s my view on some of them composed one afternoon while
driving solo across florida on ‘alligator alley’ (boredom on four
wheels) - a columnist with a trade magazine asked if it could be
published, “anon”, of course, but i have no idea if it was:

"ode to a few nameless judges

to the judge with hidden name & criteria was that your retreating
posterior i saw dashing right by like the Grinch on the fly?

tell us, are you up to the task or do you just like to bask in the
promoters’ “ohhhing”, & “ooohing”? 'cause if we had our say you’d get
out to make way for someone who knows what they’re doing.

but if you don’t know our medium and just go through the tedium, then
please don’t call it ‘judging’ when in truth you’re just ‘fudging’ to
relive your own ‘glory time’ - so go enter yourself & get off of our

we’re entitled to answers & then some, because with you it’s your ego

  • but with us it’s our income!


I have read the many definitions of Artist which have recently
appeared, and which evolved from the simpler question about the
definition of the word Jeweler. You would think that defining the
word Jeweler would be simple enough, as it clearly pertains to
jewelry. But to some it means maker and to others it means seller
and to others it means designer. Clearly we cannot agree, which I
feel is primarily due to cultural, historical and language

As far as the second and more interesting question of what is Art
and who is an Artist, I agree with nearly everyone, despite the
widely divergent points of view. The word elicits a wide breadth of
meanings both as personal/subjective understandings, as well as more
formal cultural/collective definitions. And so it is impossible to
reach universal agreement on a single definitive description of what
is an Artist. And then comes the added emotional/ego filter that
those who create cannot clear away, which just muddies the water

In my personal experience as a creator in 2D and 3D, I never really
felt comfortable being referred to as an Artist, even if what I made
was Art. Although others were comfortable calling me that, it is such
a loaded term that I shied away. I have never “honored” myself with
that title. Using it was their choice and so I accepted it as their
truth, but not mine. Although the situation has more differences
than similarities, look at what they do in Japan. I do not believe
that the greatest Artists there just one day decide to proclaim that
they are National Living Treasures. Others do the calling, while the
Artist just does his/her art. I always felt that Art speaks for
itself, requiring no explanation, and that the creator should not
interfere by adding loaded appendages to what they produce.

I suppose that language is the root of the problem, as usual. In
fact, poor communication seems to be the cause of nearly all our
earthly mistakes. Although they say that English is the most
descriptive language, we still cannot define these very important
terms properly. English has its limitations, despite its 675,000 or
so words (and growing). For example, despite all those words, we
only have one for Snow. Even Eskimos beat us there, with their dozen
or so different terms for frozen water. No wonder we cannot agree on
the meaning of Artist(e) and Jewel(l)er. We can’t even agree on how
to spell them, as some feel the need to add extra letters, perhaps
to bolster their importance.

So I raise my chalice to diversity, to our living language and to
keeping an open mind about how others use it. In fact, I hope that
we never all agree.

And add a toast to Ton and Hanuman for providing a forum for this
lively discussion.

Alan Revere
Goldsmith and Jewelry Designer
Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
760 Market Street - Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94102
tel: 415-391-4179 fax: 415-391-7570

about jeweled object s and their components.  My definition of
jeweler is broad and I do not wish t o narrow it too much, but some
goldsmiths, though they are rare, are not jewelers because they do
not work with jewels (and some stone setters are not
jewelers because their knowledge is too concise and focused. 

It’s nitpicky, but one of the issues I have with this definition is
that “jewel” is/has not always had the same definition as “gemstone”.

Webster’s sez: Jewel - “1. an ornament of precious metal often set
with stones or decorated with enamel and worn as an accessory of

The impression I’ve always had was that a ‘jewel’ or a piece of
jewelry is a small ornament of intrinsic and stylistic value (or made
to resemble such, i.e. costume jewelry), as noted in the definition
above. I think anyone who’s creating pieces in gold or silver can be
called a jeweler, though nowdays even the involvement of precious
metal gets a little hazy. And on the subject of Webster’s
definitions, I was surprised to see that the dictionary definition of
“jeweler” includes not only creators and repairers of jewelry, but
also people who deal in “jewelry, precious stones, watches, and
usually silverware and china”. I guess while ideologically for
people who sweat and toil at creating the actual jewelry it’s a
little distasteful to hear people in retail with no manufacturing
experience also calling themselves jewelers, technical definition
says otherwise. But come on, who sells silverware and china and
seriously calls him/herself a jeweler? o_O

Darn this wacky English language.
–M. Osedo

Marcy, I definately agree with your “nitpicky” definition. What I
was trying to get across is that a goldsmith or, perhaps more
precisely a metalsmith, who makes metal objects that are not used as
personal ornament and who don’t include gemstones in thier work can
hardly be called a jeweler. There are people out there who do this,
I see them at craft shows occasionally, though as stated, they are
rare. I would not, for example, define a plique a’jour enamalist,
using gold to make only smalls bowls or tiny vases to be a jeweler.
Anyone agree, disagree?

Thanks for pointing this out so that I could clarify.