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GIA Career Fair Worth the trip?


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… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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!
Liz Sugermeyer


Dear Liz,

I have attended a couple GIA Career Fairs for different reasons at
different times in my career. They are very helpful to make contacts
with people from around the world who are in the jewelry industry,
which sounds like something that would be good for you.

The Career Fairs are also very helpful to get a big picture view of
what is being sought in employees within the jewelry industry. Don’t
let the overwhelming bias towards graduate gemologists throw you for
a loop. (bad pun intended) The GIA is a gemology training facility
that is their focus but metalsmithing and jewelry making are still
primary means through which gemstones are attached to the body, so
your skills will be appreciated. It sounds like you are getting some
wonderful life experience as well as jewelry training,

good luck.

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228


Hi Liz,

I received my first introduction to jewelry in Mexico at about the
age of 16. I too used torches with foot pumps! and Gasoline as our
fuel!! So I can relate to the old school ways of soldering ( my
uncles were still using the mouth blow pipe for their soldering!! ) I
think that any type of education or research you can do, can only
better you. I now work for the jewelry institute that I graduated
from and I learned techniques here that my brother in Mexico only
wished he had. It made me aware of the industry as a whole and has
allowed me different venues and paths for me to walk in my journey as
a jeweler. If you are making your way to California and to the US
next year, feel free to stop by and visit us in Sacramento. I would
love to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to contact me.

Gabriel Manzo
California Institute of Jewelry Training