Has anyone ever been to the GIA Career Fair (Carlsbad or NYC), and
did you consider it something that would be worthwhile for a current
student? I caught it on their website I’m hoping that going would
help me get a better perspective on what kind of training I ought to
have, what sorts of things I should be focusing on, and more to the
point, whether the education I’m getting right now is going to mean a
hill of beans when I get back to the States - let me emphasize this:
get back to the States!
My path towards a jewelry career (which is still underway but at
least at full steam now) was really casual while I was still in the
US. I’d make a lot of beaded jewelry with mom, I took a class in PMC
once, but never really thought of it professionally until at about 25
I went to work at a store that sold artesanal jewelry and crafts, and
met several people who - what a shock! - made a living doing their
crafts! Unfortunately I was only there for a few months before my
husband got his first posting in the Foreign Service, in Sri Lanka.
We spent two years there, and I made myself a permanent fixture in
one of the shops, got to learn a bit about etc. I started
really thinking that jewelry might be a good thing since I could take
it with me in our ever-relocating diplomat lifestyle. So before we
left I did was any crazy person would do: I bought a HEFTY$$$ amount
of gems in multiples of each stone so I could make repeats of any
design I did. Ah, debt and investment as motivation…
I took another course while back in the US for 4 months, then
started looking for opportunities here at our current post, in Peru.
Fortunately Peru has a rich culture of jewelry. I found a training
institute which results in an accreditation from the Peruvian
Ministry of Education, and got a fellowship which covers most of the
costs of the full round of every course they offer. The two courses
basically translate to Jewelry Assistant (5 months) and Jewelry
Manufacture (9 more months) at about 12 hours a week, plus any extra
specialization courses (i.e. 4 months in stone setting) that I can
get my hands on. Mind you, I’m doing this all in Spanish, and I’m
conversational but not fluent so thank god a lot of the tool names
and tech terms for jewelry are such that even the local students need
an explanation in more basic terms! On top of all of that, this place
can be a little low tech - no fancy compression for us, our torches
have foot pumps, folks!
Anywho, this brings me back to my question about the Career Fair.
The education I’m getting, while no doubt valuable - I have no idea
if it’s on par with an american school that might have fancier
equipment (though honestly I think most of our equipment is the
same). Though who knows, maybe better in some ways that I’m learning
things old school. Okay, OLD old school. But I have NO idea what my
skills and accreditation from Peru will mean to someone in the
industry in the US, and I want to know where I’ll stand and how I
should proceed once I get back to the US next year. So, is it worth
my time and money to go? Just in general is it a good experience - I
figure some advice and perspective from an American audience would be
good to let me plan what to do (or what I can do!) when I come back
to the US.
But also If anyone has any advice regarding my wacky educational
situation, I would really appreciate it!
Thanks so much!