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Funding for classes?

Hi - I was wondering how everybody got their start into jewelry…in
particular, how you paid for it. I am new to jewelry (23yo & live in
the California Bay Area) I would like to become a jeweler but I don’t
know how/where to get funding from. I’ve only taken a basic fab.
class so far (I need to learn so much more) & can’t afford anything

If anyone has some tips on what they did for money to get started I
would really appreciate them.

Thanks so much for your help!!

Please email me off-list: @LemonChrome

Hi - I was wondering how everybody got their start into jewelry…in
particular, how you paid for it. I am new to jewelry (23yo & live in
the California Bay Area) I would like to become a jeweler but I don’t
know how/where to get funding from. I’ve only taken a basic fab.
class so far (I need to learn so much more) & can’t afford anything

If anyone has some tips on what they did for money to get started I
would really appreciate them.

Thanks so much for your help!!

Please email me off-list: @LemonChrome

I would suggest you find a source of on local Gem and
Mineral Societies or rock clubs. The Societies should be available
though the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies at Rock clubs AND societies are also listed in the
May edition of LJ and in CA there are many of them.

Most such societies and clubs offer excellent gem cutting AND
jewelry courses for very reasonable prices. Some will even give free
instructions to those financially challanged just to get them

Our Society here in SOFL has certified over 30 cabbers and 10
faceters in the past two years and we plan to start smithing and
casting, wirewrapping and other subjects in the near future. Our
members are now beginning to produce some very nice jewelry!

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1

You don’t need classes! Take the money you would spend on classes
and buy a few tools and a couple of books. Many of the people you
will find on this list have invested a lot of time and money in
instruction and apprenticeships and have become outstanding
jewelers. Some, Alan Revere comes to mind, have apprenticed under
master goldsmiths in Europe. These people are among the finest
goldsmiths in the country. Some are self taught, and are also among
the finest in the country. A silversmith named Robert Koepler, (sp)
does work in silver that defies description.He is entirely self
taught. Over thirty years ago I sent for a silversmithing
correspondence coure. I did four or five of the lessons, they covered
basid soldering and metal forming, and never finished the course. The
course included basic tools, and I used those and a book on indian
silversmithing by Ben Hunt and went to work. Like most, I worked
exclusively in silver for a long time eventually going into gold.
About ten years ago I took the GIA gemologist home study courses so
that I could be confident in accurately representing the stones I
incorporate into my pieces. I’ve also built up quite a library of
books over the years,and there are many good ones on various aspects
of jewelry making. If you are low on funds, haunt the used book
stores. There have to be lots of them in the Bay Area. As for tools,
check on eBay, visit flea markets, go to garage sales,etc. The short
answer to your question is that most of us funded ouselves as best we
could. If you have the desire, you can do it. If you have both the
desire and the talent you can go far. If you don’t, all the training
in the world won’t help. Jerry in Kodiak

I got my start in silversmithing/jewelry by majoring in it when I
was in college. If you can find a university near you that has a
jewelry program or even just a few metal classes then you should be
able to apply for financial aid from that school. The financial aid
office should be able to help you with grants, scholarships, and
loans that will fit your situation.


Hi - I was wondering how everybody got their start into
particular, how you paid for it.  I am new to jewelry (23yo & live in
the California Bay Area) I would like to become a jeweler but I don't
know how/where to get funding from.

Ditto on Don’s reply. We began our guild 3 years ago, and pressed
our members into being teachers. Some of our members are just
starting out, maybe having taken a semester or two of either
sculpture or metalsmithing. Some of the members are top designers,
teachers, authors and professionals with shops or studios. Most of
the classes have been very low cost, usually around $20-$30 for a one
day workshop. We’ve covered things like etching, anticlastic forming,
bead and bright, gypsy and flush settings, wax carving, tufa casting,
charcoal casting, doublee’, spiculum forming, granulation, and a few
other classes I can’t remember. It also provided resources to others
to be able to draw upon when they encountered a problem.

Some of the beginners have apprenticed under some of the ones who
have their own shops. One of our members takes on newbies he deems
having enough gumption to stick it out, and they work in his shop
while he teaches them. He provides them with silver, they make their
projects, and if it’s not up to his standards, makes them rebuild it.
Then he sells it in his shop at a price he feels he can get out of
it, takes the net profit and puts it into an account. After several
years of apprenticing, those net profits are taken out, he buys them
equipment they need to set up shop, and presents it to them for
’free’. Since he doesn’t tell them ahead of time what he’s doing,
it’s a big surprise. They usually go on to be successful small
businesses. I can’t say that you’ll get the same kind of deal (old
fella is ‘retired’ and likes to have young people around), but an
apprenticeship is usually a fairly painless way of learning from
knowledgeable people.

For myself, I borrowed $200 from my husband. I bought enough silver
and a few hand tools at the hock shops, modified them to my needs.
Then I sold my projects, bought another tool and some more silver,
building it up slowly. My husband has since been paid back his $200
loan, plus he gets freebies when his family sends their jewelry to me
for repairs. They didn’t know it, but I was practicing on their gold!
There’s no pot of gold to get you started, but where there’s a will,
you will find a way.

Good luck!
Katherine Palochak

I started out stringing beads to sell. Progressed to making my own
beads to incorporate through lampworking…set-up and class about
$175 working cheaply. Progressed to beginning metalsmithing & sold
that to buy my enameling kiln, pretty much taught myself how to
enamel. It would be nice if someone had paid for my college degree or
classes but instead I got a full time job doing clerical work at the
University. I got 9 free hrs. a semester as a perk of the really
poorly paying job and lived on Ramen noodles with very little sleep
for a few years. I think most of the “working artists” I know,
(people paying their way with their artwork) took a somewhat similar
route. Even if they did go to school I am not sure how many schools
really teach inspiration. Don’t get the idea I regret any of it at
all…I learned all kinds of tricks I might never had tried if
someone had taught me the “right way” to do it first.



I can’t help you with the funding aspect, but depending on where you
are in the Bay Area, there are several jewelry related programs at a
variety of junior colleges, which are probably the most economical
way to get started. I know that the College of Marin, Cabrillo
College, SF City College, and at least one of the south bay colleges,
such as Foothill, De Anza and West Valley, offer several classes in
jewelry making that could give you a jumping off point. I would also
check out the The Crucible in Berkeley, as they have many
interesting classes and seem to be reasonably priced. I hope this

Best regards,

I don’t know if you’ve checked these sources… there are two books
out, one available at Rio Grande… for grant sources. Laurie Blum
writes Free Money From the Federal Government for Small Businesses
and Entrepreneurs. The other is a huge volume by a man named Lesko
( I don’t recall the title but it has a gazillion listings for
everything under the sun including grants for students) who also has
a website. Amazing stuff that I plan to utilize myself in the

Good luck,

Dani Greer
Greer Studios

FUNDING??? Are you kidding me? Does that exist?? Well, that doesn’t
happen out here in the Midwest . If you have the drive and
determination to show up (on time) and work your butt off; then
there’s no reason why any jeweler (who’s hiring) wouldn’t take you on
as an apprentice. Try to get an apprenticeship with a jeweler, for a
REAL job. A Degree in Arts is definitely impressive and no doubt hard
work; but tell me how art history can help you solder a broken chain
together or size a ring. You must ask yourself.: What do you want to
accomplish in the jewelry trade? You need to find your niche. You
discover those answers in a apprenticeship. Take art classes on the
side if you have the extra stamina; but you get the real deal in live
working situations, not in a classroom. Well, that’s my two cents
worth. Yes, I’m female and a successful jeweler/business owner for
25 years! Good Luck.!!! pen

Dear TJ. Well put ! The hand-out world is for those who are
politically inclined. A French Philospher once said that Democracy
is a great idea…until people catch on to the fact that you can
vote yourself money ! We live in a marketplace economy and our
fortunes are based on our ability to accomodate the marketplace.If
we want to appeal to the popular market we make things that are
appealing to most people. If we want to appeal to the pretentious
market we make things that are deviant and lace the sale with
romance. If we want to make a statement, we do things that satisify
our own artistic aspirations. Ultimately, the rent has to be paid
and the bills have to be eliminated. Government subsidies, in the
forms of grants ,are basically designed to appease political
segments; i.e., if you grow tobacco and the weather has been
adverse, you can get relief from government loans because your
congressman is anxious to retain your vote. Jewelers have absolutely
no clout because they don’t represent a significant body of the
electorate. It is a " bucks" kind of thing. Jewelry making is not an
essential endeavour. Jewelry IS important to most people The role of
the jeweler is not that of making monumental craft pieces but,
rather, one of making ikons of relationships amongst people… WE
MAKE SYMBOLS OF LOVE AND COMMITMENT ! When we do a good job we are
rewarded generously, but we mustn’t ever assume that our efforts are
earth shaking creations. It is quite enough that we lend meaning and
substance to relationships. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, Ca.

Here are a few tips to create your own funding – at this very
moment I will tell you that the guys are trimming my trees here and
I don’t see any money falling to the ground!

  1. Start creating jewelry from things that you do have - if you have
    some silver and a small torch and a few tools, fabricate some little
    charms (sell your experiments!) for example. Purchase some pearls
    and simple findings at the next gem/jewelry show or catalog and make
    simple necklaces and bracelets and earrings incorporating your
    charm. As you design the charms, put yourself to the test and learn
    a new little skill or try out one of your design ideas. This way
    you are learning and you’ll be surprised that what you create will
    be saleable, even though you are creating the simplest items. When
    purchasing your pearls/beads keep in mind your selling price - try
    for about 4 times the cost of your materials-

  2. Once you have created a few things, schedule your hairdresser
    appointment - go when alot of people are in the shop (and before
    holidays!) and use the low-key show and tell approach. Don’t be
    surprised when other customers want to buy. You may even be able to
    barter a necklace for your own haircut, etc. Think of other barter
    situations in your every day comings and goings - this will free up
    your cash and start your customer list growing at the same time. Let
    them know you are on your way to becoming a career jeweler and will
    have even more new things next time you show up.

  3. Have one of your friends/relatives host a trunk show in their
    home to sell your jewelry.

  4. Now with your cash from sales, save a little for your “education
    fund” and buy more supplies, create more fabricated items, and on
    and on. If you are diligent, one day in the not too distant future,
    you will realize how much you have learned on your own, you will
    have money for that next class that interests you, and if you are
    wise, you will treat yourself to one or more of the tools and books
    on your “wish list”. In time you will have a whole bench load of
    tools, a growing library, more knowledge to be able to create more
    complex jewelry items, and have customers waiting for your next
    offerings - you are developing important building blocks of your
    business without even realizing it.

Keep simple but good records and be enthusiastic and positive. And
keep your eyes wide open - jewelry is being used not only for human
adornment these days but to dress up components of interior design
installations, i.e. pillows, duvet covers, etc., table designs for
special functions (talk to some party/event planners)- napkin
holders, candle holders, etc. There are all kinds of opportunities
to make money and learn what you want to at the same time, even with
limited resources, in the interim, while you are learning to be a
jeweler who will one day maybe be working in gold, platinum and pink
diamonds! I have only been at this jewelry business for about 2 years
and have done what I have talked about above and it is working.
You can succeed with a little patience and creative thinking and
some good luck - it does help to have a sister who is an interior
designer! JoAnn Dean

       You don't need classes! Take the money you would spend on
classes and buy a few tools and a couple of books. Many of the
people you will find on this list have invested a lot of time and
money in instruction and apprenticeships and have become
outstanding jewelers. 
		Jerry, your first and third sentence seem to be 

My experience has been that usually people who think classes are a
waste of time have more time than money, and don’t value the
experience of others. Taking classes can save someone a lot of time,
you can find out quickly whether you really want to pursue something,
and I have learned shortcuts that make my life easier. Classes
provide a quick way to learn basic skills and safty issues. When
someone wants to work for me I require them to take a basic course
from someone who teaches that, I don’t have time, and I find out
their level of commitment. At a workshop on anticlastic raising with
Michael Good , I realized very quickly what was facinating was not my
cup of tea. My workshops with Marnie Ryan, Carrie Adell, Andy
Cooperman, Harold O’Conner, Marilyn de Silva, Betty Helen Longhi and
others have been invaluable. I to am self taught, but I regretted
that it took me so long to find out the wealth of
intellectual process or metal technique from other artists that I
received from the generous artists. I have taken workshops that I
thought were a waste of money, only to use that or
technique years later, and I made more from that one piece than the
workshop cost. To me, the sense of community of being with other
metalworkers is as valuable as any workshop One thing I
have noticed, is that some self -taught craftsmen don’t seem to know
what good quality craftsmanship is, and they get rejected because of
that and they think it’s a problem with other peoples value system
that how hard they worked or how many hours they put into their work
is not being recognized. That’s my two cents! Richard in Denver

I have to step in here regarding taking classes to learn the jewelry
trade. I was blessed by a generous relative who funded my jewelry
education at Revere Academy. Alan has an incredible staff of real
jewelers teaching, you learn real world work, not just theory. I
graduated from Revere in 94 and consider myself a professional
jeweler making custom work, setting and doing repairs. I would have
loved to apprentice but most jewelers around here don’t have the
time or patience and don’t want to incur the risk of breakage etc.
Everyone finds their own way and it’s important to be positive
regarding those choices. Whatever way gets you there is the right

Marta in Sacramento

Funding for classes , First thing is I=92m not a good example of a
jeweler as compared to the real jewelers on this board but I was at
a bench in a real store for 1 year before the store closed .I was
hired over the phone site unseen * L * boy were they surprised when
I came in with only one arm , but they were stuck and I got a chance
to show what I could do , I don=92t see that ever happening again. But
I started out as the original poster did with just 1 basic fab.
class .Then due to a wreck that left me with one arm and a bad leg
and a doctor that told me I=92d have to give up any thought of
becoming a jeweler. A school that would not make exceptions for my
major that was Art with an emphisis on Jewelry Design and Metal
smithing , I could handle the Jewelry aspects but not the sculpture
classes .I just couldn=92t hold a chisel and hammer at the same time .
Three years of school wasted and no funding to repeat the 3 years to
major in another field of which I had no desire to do , I love
jewelry. Anyway I was sent to voc rehab which was trying to assist
me in getting into a jewelry school here in Ky but later found the
school was not state accredited so that fell through and then the
head of voc rehab said point blank =93 I could never do jewelry work
with one hand so neither could you . So for us to assist you in this
field would be a waste of our money=94 I know this was the long way
to get to the answer I was originally posting but just setting the
background. I decided to try to educate myself in jewelry as best I
could so I started by visiting pawn shops and buying their scrap
gold jewelry , with this I then had the jewelry to repair with no
chance of loosing much if any money since buying it at scrap price
it was still worth scrap if I made a mistake . The items I repaired
I then took back to the shop and sold back at a slight profit , then
bought more and repeated the process .This went well until the owner
figured out what I was doing decided he could make more money if he
did this himself and stopped selling to me .But this did give me
time to gain some knowledge , buy some Items to work with and a few
good books .If you look at the top of the bench exchange page 2
you=92ll see it didn=92t do a lot but helped .I did get enough knowled=
to do the repair work for a year by myself at the store mentioned
above So you might think about trying the buy , repair then sell
method , you may have better luck in funding yourself than I did.

I was just going over my past “Orchid” notes about MY training in
the Art of Diamond Setting.

I started out as an apprentice at the ripe old age of 15. I spent 9
years with one diamond setter,(Stan Levine) here in Toronto, Canada.
Learned the basics of repairs then on to setting white spinels into
10 Kt gold mounts. So after the 9 years of training, I can truthfully
say, I learned bezel setting, pave’, cut * n bead, solitaire
settings, fancy cut centers, baguettes, end bezels, channel and gypsy
settings. Not too mention my favourite…“fish-tail” and “cut-down”. I
developed a system in using an onglette #2 into a "right-sided"
cutting graver, in lieu of the #39 - #40 Flat graver, with cleaner
and smoother results too !

Now I am writing articles in “Bench” magazine on a regular basis,
not too mention I am now teaching Gem Setting 1&2 at George Brown
College here in this city. I am now doing seminars with the also in this city.

So from working for 44 years and I am now giving back to the trade
and to the new comers, what I have been gifted with. That is, the
knowledge of that this craft is a wonderful and rewarding discipline.
We must and all should give to those who are wanting to learn, a
chance to learn from the ‘masters’. I am also teaching and showing
"bench workers" in the States how easy some aspects of this craft can
be. My teaching is basically a “one-to-one” consisting of 5-6 day
training session. This is open to all hobbyists or advanced and can
be used for upgrading purposes. So let us all give back to those who
want to learn.

“Gerry, the Cyber-Setter !”
North America, toll free:1-877-850-0003
Member of: SNAG, MJSA, J/A, CJA, FSG
Contributing writer to the following:
WWW. JDWTN.COM & “BENCH” magazine

Gerald, where can I contact “Bench” magazine, please. I’m not
familiar with that publication. Thanks. David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings

Hello David Barzilay This “Bench” magazine has a wealth of jewellery
I know I write all the time for them…:>) Contact
Bradney Simon 1 - 864 - 680 - 4416 or click onto or
you can write to him via “snail-mail”, or Bench
Magazine 106 South Pinepoint Dr. Spartanburg, SC 29302 Just mention
that you saw my posting on “Orchid” about his magazine and say "hi"
to him from me, thanks. Wish you luck in your reading…:>) “Gerry,
the Cyber-Setter !” “” North America, toll
free:1-877-850-0003 Member of: SNAG, MJSA, J/A, CJA, FSG Contributing
writer to the following: WWW. JDWTN.COM & “BENCH” magazine