I am just wondering how people in the jewellery industry feel
about formal school vs doing an apprenticeship as a means of
It all depends on what you want out of your career: technical
expertise or artistic training. I grew up in a jewelry store and
then did a one year stint in a jewelry trade school. Since then
I’ve worked in jewelry stores, had my own custom business or been a
studio jeweler. I can do anything a formally (by this I mean
college) trained jeweler can do except get a job as a university
level professor. At the shows I go to I always get people who ask
me where I studied and I want to say, “The university of hard
knocks.” However, if you go this route be prepared to do a lot of
study on your own in design: take drawing classes, study design, go
to museums, immerse yourself in the history of jewelry design;
because you probably won’t get this working for a jeweler.
The jewelry business has changed over the last 10 years, too. It
won’t be as easy to go to a store and find a lot of good solid work.
People expect repair to be so cheap now that most people who do it
are trade shops that use extremely low wage labor. Even high end
stores job out repair and only do custom design and difficult jobs
in house. There’s less work to cut your teeth on.
Still, it’s worth your time to try to find a good place to gather
skills. You may need to get some degree of training from a jewelry
trade school, just to differentiate yourself from the low wage
masses. If you’re young, why not take a year or so to find a good
job, take a few classes and see how you like it. If it come down to
it, you can always take university level courses later. It all
depends on what you want out of your career and how low on the wage
scale you’re willing to start out.
Larry (offline reponses welcome)
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler
Spectrum Award Winner
Second Generation Jeweler