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.