Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Graduating from a hands on program

Hello all, after a hiatus, I find myself home with the flu and
catching up on all the latest hot topics on Orchid! I’m graduating
from an 18 month program in June and would LOVE advice from people
who’ve been in the biz for years. My program is hands on, 8 hours a
day at the bench for 18 months - I say this b/c when I talk to
potential employers, they often think I’m a design student. Here are
my questions, and thanks SO MUCH in advance for your valuable
experience! Best, Holly.

  1. What can I expect from a typical bench test?

  2. Is 2 years at the bench laughable or is this an acceptable
    "apprentice" period to be considered for a job seriously? (I’ve been
    stone setting since Sept, laser welding, casting, plat, fabrication,

  3. Do independent jewelers prefer a phone call and appointment, or
    is it ok to wander in off the street and ask questions (my point
    here is that not everything is on the internet, believe it or not,
    and I’m moving to new city in June and don’t know where any of the
    smaller jewelers are located, so might find them while wandering

  4. Is there anyone in Houston that is interested in being a mentor?
    :slight_smile: That’s where I’m moving and although I’ve spent hours trolling
    the internet and I’ve talked to the big engagement ring production
    factories (Robbins Bros, etc.) I’d love to meet some independent
    jewelers in the area.

  5. Anyone looking for a bench jeweler in Houston in June/July?
    (Although my fiancee is willing to support me for a bit, eventually
    my cats would like to return to the lifestyle to which they were
    accustomed before I became a starving art student… :slight_smile: Thanks
    again, ever so much!

Holly this is the test I use

  1. set engagement ring

  2. size rings without line or thinning the shank

  3. repair chains (not able to see where repair is)

  4. solder wedding set together

  5. usually I thow in some random repair that is laying around,to
    see if the jeweler can figure out the proper process

  6. bright cut/ pave’

  7. simple wax job

  8. finish out a casting

  9. fabricate simple ring

The true test is… can you do this type work fast and well enough
to make money.

I tell new people in our field, " You eat what you kill". To hire
someone and pay well, you have to produce 3x your salary for a shop
to be profitable. I pay by the Geller Book and swear by it. The few
jewelers that don’t like the Geller Book are too slow to make money
for both parties. Slow is’nt a sign of a poor jeweler, just lower
salary that leads to much resentment, anger, and parting ways.

And one last thought that might help, using someone else’s bench
slows most people down considerably,you might want your favorite
hand tools with you.

Good Luck and keep us posted !!
Lisa McConnell

Holly, try the online Yellow Pages under “jewelers retail” etc. and
this will have a listing of every business in the category you are
looking for in the geographic area you are interested in (Houston).
Every company is listed there as every business line gets a free
listing. Of course some will also have their websites or advertising
attached. You could then mail, or call them and see what the
reaction is.

When you walk into the store you will get a feel for the place and
the type of work they sell which can be helpful. You may also catch
the owner at a busy time with a customer and not be able to get
their attention. Calling first would be welcomed by any professional

Hello Holly,

hope u get to feeling better and good luck in houston.

What can I expect from a typical bench test? 

After reading a thread on bench test just about a month or two ago I
would say there is no typical bench test.

Is 2 years at the bench laughable or is this an acceptable
"apprentice" period to be considered for a job seriously? (I've
been stone setting since Sept, laser welding, casting, plat,
fabrication, etc.) 

If you are serious and earnest about working for someone you will do
fine. Just dont talk of one day opening your own buisness, go in
with the plan of making your boss money so they will in turn make
you money.

Do independent jewelers prefer a phone call and appointment, or is
it ok to wander in off the street and ask questions. 

go in person dressed for an interview, look around if you like the
kind of work theydo and they are not busy then ask them… just be
prepared to be shot down. I went to like 15 jewerly stores just to
ask how to get my foot in the door and was told time and time again
to get out, or their children had filled any future positions, or
they had no time. remember time is money for them and you.

Enjoy working with an independant, its the best job I ever had. Give
all you have and they (unless they are jerks) will give back in

Happy Profits


What can I expect from a typical bench test? 

I can’t tell you about the Houston part, though I lived there long
ago (lousy weather, great seafood). Your typical (typical!) bench
test is usually nothing more than work. I wrote a while back when
this came up that I had heard of a shop that gave you these wierd,
useless projects to do - literally a test. But most shops will just
throw an assortment of jobs at you that are related to what they do -
generally related to what you do, too - wax, fabrication, platinum,
setting, what have you. It sounds to me like you have a lot of
experience, for a relative novice - if you have a good personality,
work ethic, etc., you should do just fine. If you get to that point,
you need to realize that it’s not adversarial - you want a job, they
want a worker. The work may be beyond you, but they’re not out to get
you unless they’re not worth working for anyway. I will contradict
what some others said in reply, though (not right-or-wrong, I just
disagree). Don’t go to retailers unless it’s to ask them where the
shops are - retailers don’t make jewelry, they sell it. There are
some exceptions, of course. If you work in a manufacturing shop
you’ll have real work and lots of it - most retail bench people do
sizings and setting - again, there are exceptions, but if you’re
looking for work start with the manufacturers first. You could go to
10 stores before you hit one with a shop that means anything.
Personally I wouldn’t say that it’s OK to just knock on the door, I’d
say that it’s the very best way to do it. Just introduce yourself and
say you’re looking for a job - they are open for business, if they
say it’s inconvenient then you can set another time. Most importantly
you will have shown them yourself as a serious person, not just a
letter or phone call. Go-getters go and get… Shops that are
larger and more serious are looking for talent all the time, even if
they might not have “an opening”. Likely they will take a look at
what you have in any case, if you’re good at it.

I have to agree with John post on this as a small manufacturer and
supply house.

Even if I don’t have an opening, if I like the work and the persons
personality, and I think they can make be money I will find a way to
hire them every time. because in a month or so time they are adding
to the bottom line.

That it my two cents
Rodney Abel

Thank you all for your great advice and insight on my impending
(pending?) graduation from “jewelry school.” I really appreciate all
weighing in and will be hitting the pavement in Houston soon! If
anyone can recommend any contacts in the Houston area, always
appreciated. Best (from Boston for now!),