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.
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
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.