I long ago learned to let most of what seems silly pass in on line
forums. It seems that there are many questions asked which could
more easily be answered with a little thought or a few clicks on
line. While it is consideredcharitable and PC to say that "the only
silly question is the one you don't ask," in truth there are many
silly questions asked on here and elsewherebecause folks do not take
the time to think about the answer or look it up. Now we've come to
the era of on line fund raising. If you're truly in need, I suppose
raising funds on line is as good a place as any and has the
advantage of anonymity. Painless and shameless to ask on line.
Like the person who asks today, I have been collecting tools and
setting up a space and have read everything I can get my hands on. I
don't think thatthis makes me especially deserving of on line
financial support until I have gotten out the tools I have and gone
to work and tried to sell what I'vemade. It is easy to buy stuff and
easy to sit and dream. If you feel differently about this, just let
me know and I will send my financial details soyou can make a
donation. It seems to me that jewelry work is a great craftbecause
even simple jewelry is sale-able. A few pliers are all you need
tomake simple earrings and pendants and projects like these are
detailed allover the internet and in books available at your local
library. I think we've come to a pretty pass when folks think that
because they have a dream, the rest of us should fund it, before
they've made an effort to work towards it and self-fund. With a
little to a lot of trial and error, it is possible to teach yourself
most jewelry skills. Workshops and sophisticated toolsare nice, but
not necessary if you are determined enough. I know there is a fine
line between being helpful and kind and appropriately tough, but my
BS detector went off and I need to ask whether its sensitivity level
Roy Kersey has given a thoughtful reply regarding fundraising to go
to jewelry school.
You already have tools, and the ability to make jewelry, so get
busy, work up an inventory, and seek venues where you can sell your
work. Then save your money so that you can put it toward the tuition
needed to go to jewelryschool.
The internet is filled with all kinds of free tutorials, and You
Tube demonstrations of various techniques. Make use of those to
further hone your skills.
You might want to contact the school and see if they offer a work
study program to help you defray the costs of attending.
Roy it needs calibration. That being said I am not quite sure what
you are driving at. However, let me clarify a couple things here.
First of all "jeweler" vs "smith" vs "hobbyist". I have been through
all of these phases and became what I would consider and the old
papered masters consider a master jeweler. Find out online what a
master jeweler really is. A "goldsmith"or"smith" is a fabricator by
nature but also can set stones. A hobbyist is one who dabbles in the
easy to make connecting parts from Michael's or some other hobby
shop. It usually consists of using vast amounts of pre-made media.
What you learn online or by videos will never compensate for hands
There are people who are gifted by nature having a great set of
hands to feel out how much pressure to apply to a prong before the
stone gives way or how to file in a consistent manner to perfection.
Being an instructor for several years at GIA I could tell in a matter
of hours or days who was going to be good and who needed the most
help. It is the same in the cad world. Some are good at the bench and
some are good at the computer. A rare find is one who knows both.
If you think you can become a master jeweler online I would like to
know that person...
Take care and I hope this addresses your issue.
Reading over my post on this subject, I can't see where I suggested
or assumed that one could become a master jeweler by watching on
line videos. I think what I tried to say is that one can learn a lot
by reading and studying AND then practicing. Over and over. Which
you need to do no matter how brilliant your teacher or guidebook.
Soldering, forging, fabricating and stone setting seem very possible
to learn on your own. Now perhaps for pave and various forms of
complicated setting one would need a mentor, but the quality of
video instruction on line is so high now, that many tutorials
formerly available only to long serving apprentices are there for
all to see on line.
I'm not down on instruction or personal mentoring or going to
school. It just seemed to me that dreaming and assembling tools are
perhaps prerequisite steps to learning, but not sufficient
qualification, in my book, to claim contributions from others
towards one's education. When you go to college, and apply for
scholarships, you are required to show some prior work and
achievement which indicates you are a good candidate for success, in
addition to showing that you have exhausted your personal resources.
I don't see why the situation here should be any different. But
that's a personal opinion.
I would be a lot more supportive in helping someone go to jewelry
they had been trying to make and sell jewelry already. Or if they
had found an adult ed class or one at a local school for metal
smithing for a couple of semester hours - which here anyway runs $200
to $300 dollars. Jumping full on into a school doesn't tell me that
the person has already tried to do it on her own. I don't mind
helping, but you need to start on your own.
If it is a matter of figuring out which end of a torch to use, go
visit a local jeweler. Get off your duff first. Do you even know how
dirty you get doing this?
And as has been discussed here before - school doesn't always
prepare you to be a jeweler - is this a trade school with a business
Hard hearted Hannah....
Judy Hoch, G.G.
I got here with bootstraps. you can too.
You and others have said if very well. This is a trade that can be a
vocation, for life, a most wonderful, life.
Hey Roy, in my younger years I was given the opportunity to
apprentice under two papered masters of the old days. One from LA and
one originally from Phoenix and then had his own store in Boulder,
For five years I toiled with the craft of doing everything from
engraving to pave and all in between. You are absolutely right that
you must practice over and over to get better. Occasionally, you run
into bench mates who are gifted with their hands and there knowledge
of the industry. We are losing them because of age but nonetheless
they have invaluable about all aspects of the craft. The
jewelers that are great become that way because of due diligence to
quality control. When I gave my jewelry to a client I made sure it
was better than anything you would see in a retail case whether it be
repaired or made custom. It only makes sense to gain respect and
integrity in this way. My trade shop catered to 27 retail outlets and
did 250 to 465 jobs per day with 98.5% no returns. We did excellent
work and turned others away. I have loved this trade for 45 plus
years and it is my passion in many different areas. My advice is
never stop learning. if you do you will get lost in the crowd instead
of stand out from it. I still to this day pick up tricks from cad
modelers to bench mates all over the globe. You see, there is no one
single source that knows it all. not one. You can learn from videos,
from GIA, from Revere or anyone, but their technique doesn't mean it
is the only one or the best one. What trainers teach you is what they
know with a general consensus of measurable defined elements proven
to be true and valuable. I truly believe all schools give you a
general background from which you build on. The rest is up to you.
Kind regards and truly. never stop learning this trade.
I agree with Roy on this, you don't need school to learn this trade.
I think a person would be better off practicing and then taking week
long classes on certain subjects. The problem with most people today
is that we have become brainwashed with college. Kids are not taught
to think for themselves they have to be told how to do something.
Think and do, make mistakes learn from them, do again and again, that
is how you get good.
There are workshops all over the country that teach most anything
Seek them out.
My take on the fund raising...
As long as the giving of money is 100% voluntary (free of force or
fraud) please feel free to dispose of your wealth in any manner you
If you don't ask, the answer is always no.
was this a recent post on Facebook? I saw one like this.
To be blunt if you want other people to pay for you to go to
jewellery school you do not have what it takes to survive in this
trade. At the trade jewellery school I went to many students "went
without" to afford school. Also others had menial jobs to pay fees.
They were prepared to work hard to go to school.
all the best
You touched my educator button. Learning at the bench is school.
School is not just a building with a curriculum, etc. School is
anywhere that education takes place. Education is not limited to just
traditional classes in the traditional setting.
Many years ago one well respected jeweler and teacher told me a
[very high percentage] of "teachers" make certain circuits teaching
the same thing over and over pumping up their egos rather than
proffering real skills, knowledge or experience to participant in
what can be expensive classes* : * they send out a tools list and
offer some things as "supplies for the class" that a novice would not
have thought to bring to make extra money on the side, never
explaining the tools or their uses just a "cut this here with this
and we can all proceed" approach. I have seen these 'teachers' in
action and heard students sitting around some communal area in the
evenings asking whether or not others were learning. anything or
feeling like they were ultimately just assembling that teacher's
design idea. So know the school and the teacher you wish to learn
something specific from and consider your investment in their
competence at teaching where the gaps are in what skills you have
taught yourself without blindly attending the most convenient venue
that may offer "jewelry making classes". Stone setting is a good
example of a class that with a good instructor leading, you can learn
far more than through trial and error at home. Also, if you have no '
fine art' background, jewellery rendering/drawing to design
proportionately (or at least to solidify the scale and processes
necessary) for you to understand how to efficiently complete the
operations required in a sound work piece that won't disintegrate in
a few weeks if not on the buyer's way home. While a large portion of
tool knowledge and application(s) and learning how to use more
advanced/expensive equipment can be self-taught some things are
better understood knowing that there are formulas to help fabricate
x, and the experience of seeing a master at a given task do the
operation in your presence -for your benefit- is quite valuable. I
can list many schools NOT worth the time and definitely not worth
*any money*, but many teachers that you should seek out having bona
fide skills they actually enjoy teaching to students that are
interested in developing their skills rather than are there as a
destination vacation for a dramatic week of creating problems in a
classroom environment! Choose well! Regarding asking for assistance
with tuition: many schools offer scholarships, situational tuition
reduction, or work exchange programmes - so don't overlook them. Most
long term programmes that are established and worth their proverbial
salt have a limited number of assitantships or work exchange
positions that are based on merit or skill and need I don't believe
its worth cranking out substandard jewelry to make money in any case!
If you can't do the best work possible at a given price point for
the market you are approaching why waste the materials (-
particularly if you have some skills and know better)? that's what
respect for the consumer -that may become your patron down the road
is about*: *developing a name for yourself. rer
some very good points from Mr Rourke.
There are many jewellery making classes LOL out there and when I see
the work the students make it is a sad joke. Poor construction, bad
soldering, not polished properly and stones not set straight and
bezels not down. And many are expensive $300 a weekend.
In Australia I can highly recommend "The School for Silversmiths"
$95 for a full days tuition. You need some tools but many are
provided. This is a trade school that has produced many of the finest
silver and gold smiths in Australia.
all the best
MJSA along with JCK has started a new program called Be A Jeweler.
They offer scholarships and advice for folks wanting to learn the
I suggest that the original poster contact them about scholarships.
It can be so tough to get a leg up in the jewelry making trade. When
I started it was an all male trade and it really helped to be born
into a family that was already in the trade. It takes years and costs
a lot of money to train someone. When there was a Jeweler's trade
union you could get into a union trade shop, work for half pay for
years, learn the trade and after 5 years if you were any good you got
your journeyman status and full pay. Then you spent another 5 years
after that mastering what you had learned. That takes a huge
commitment from both parties. Almost like becoming a family member.
We have young folks begging to become our apprentices. With labor
laws in the US we can't trade menial shop work for training. It's
called indentured servitude and it's against the law. We can't afford
to pay a young person a wage while training as well as workman's
comp, SS taxes, un employment insurance, and fed and state taxes.
Then there is class snobbery on the part of the parents. " Oh I don't
want Julie or Johnny working with their hands like a common laborer.
My dream is for my child to get a degree from an important
As a result we have lost at least two generations of young folks to
bring up into the trade.
I applaud the efforts of MJSA and JCK and support their cause. Young
folks today can make a living family wage as a trade jeweler with
just a HS diploma and without incurring $50,000 to $100,000 in
We desperately need highly skilled stone setters and trade jewelers.
We need more good trade schools. The buying public won't stand for
out sourcing across town let alone to China or India resetting
Grandma's heirloom diamond or fixing that worn prong setting. " Do
you do the work here or is it going to be sent out somewhere?" What
we do is so trust sensitive.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Your comments about training and apprenticeships was very
interesting. I regret that I started learning jewelry so late in
life, at least late considering the years of training needed to
become a "real" jeweler.
But at the right age I didn't have the interest. All I wanted to do
was be an artist, and I worked as a waitress nights and went to art
school full time in the day to do so. But at that time - in the
1950's - there was little market for art, just museums, commissioned
portraits, or commercial art. I painted, worked as a technical
illustrator, etc. (and of course, my parents had warned me that
artists starved in garrets when I insisted on that training.)
That changed in my late 60's when our local art center was created,
which my husband and I were involved with starting. A new jewelry
class was created and wow! I am hooked. So I learn as I can, take a
weekly class, sell my stuff as opportunity allows, and enjoy
everything. I still paint and have recently gone back to painting
class. I am now 82.
But I hope that some young people somewhere are interested in
investing themselves in learning. The jewelry world is fascinating,
the stones worth of a story, and as most occupations, many niches you
only find as you go along.