Jewelry Colleges

Hello, I am currently a high-school student in the United States
looking into college. I’ve loved working with metal all my life, and
jewelry seemed like a natural transition. Having turned out a few
amateurish pieces, I’ve been looking into pursuing it through
college. My question is this: is it worth the effort to pursue
jeweling as a primary degree rather than learning independently or
from small classes? Also, I’ve been looking at the Alberta College
of Art and Design as well as the Hiko Mizuno (in Osaka, Japan)
schools; has anyone attended/heard of these institutions, and how do
they rank among the other establishments? Any input would be
extremely helpful. With immense appreciation,

-Devan Moorman

My question is this: is it worth the effort to pursue jeweling as a
primary degree rather than learning independently or from small

Here is the straight answer. If you come to me looking for a job, I
could not care less whether you have PhD in Jewellery Arts, or no
accreditation at all. What I would care is what you can do while
sitting at the bench. It has been my experience that a lot of people
with long list of academic accomplishments have been quite helpless
when it was time to use their hands, but not their tongues.

Leonid Surpin

I have a question similar to this one. Has anyone ever heard of the
Appalachian center of the arts, In Tennessee. I’m wondering how
their programs relate to others.

Hello Devan,

No easy answer for that question. Successful jewelers are just as
likely to be self taught or to have learned through apprenticeship or
on-the-job-training. I spent 6 years at art school myself but I
sometimes think that most of the skills I actually use I learned on
my own. My advise no matter how you choose to learn the craft is to
read Orchid, read trade magazines and attend trade shows and
conferences. I particularly like the MJSA shows and was happy with
the one Bench Conference I attended.

There are lots of ways to be a jeweler or metalsmith. There is a
tendency to follow the example of your role models. If your role
models are art school instructors, that isn’t very likely to prepare
you to be a bench jeweler in a retail store. If you are a retail
bench jeweler, that isn’t going to train you for a production shop
or as a designer/artist. You can learn a lot from any of these
situations. Be curious and try to meet as many people who are doing
successfully what you want to be doing yourself someday.

Stephen Walker

Hi Devan,

If you’re interested in coming to Canada for your education 2
colleges with good jewelry programs are: George Brown College & OCAD
(Ontario College of Art & Design). I am attending George Brown right
now and find that the curriculum and teachers are great.

Hope this helps,
Cassandra Bazos

Hi Devan,

I was in your situation a couple of years ago (sophomore in college
now), so I would like to share some of what I learned from my college
search. Though as people here have said, your decision should be
entirely your own and based on where you want to go with jewelry
(retail/trade or one-of-a-kind gallery type pieces). In the long run,
it will not matter where you went to school if your work and skill
isn’t up to par (this goes for anything really).

That said, keep in mind what kind of college experience you want to
have. There are many paths to the same end, so don’t let what anyone
says here be your only factor in making this choice. You could go to
a trade school for specifically jewelry, an art school, or a
university with a jewelry program (I chose Tyler School of Art, which
is at Temple University so it’s kind of a combination of the last
two). Taking classes in only jewelry could set you up with the
technical skills for a career, but you might be missing out on the
rest of college (which is quite different from high school, as I’m
sure you know). If academics are something that are important to you,
definitely look into schools where you can take regular courses in
addition to art courses (I plan to minor in Japanese, Spanish, and
possibly Art History so this was important in my decision).

To briefly touch on the two you mentioned, I would say that ACAD is
a very strong school based on some work that I have seen from
students there and knowing the work of the professor (Charles
Lewton-Brain). Hiko Mizuno (which I believe is in Tokyo, not Osaka)
also appears to be a great jewelry school, though it is solely
jewelry so it’s more like a trade school than a college. Also, they
do require you to have a certain amount of Japanese language study
under your belt so unless you could pass Level 2 on the JLPT or have
studied in Japan for a long time it may not be an option.

Bottom line is do your research and follow your gut. Visit schools
that you’re interested in and take in the whole school, not just
their jewelry program, though of course that is a very important
factor that should influence your decision. Some colleges are more
focused on concept while others are more driven to technique. Looking
at student work is a good indicator of what type of program they

Good luck in your search!
Tina Wiltsie

Dear Devan,

I can only give you my experience and that of my family. We are
second generation jewellers in Canada. My cousins and I have
attended George Brown College in Toronto. I am a current student
(late bloomer, I used to be a high school teacher!) in the Jewellery
Arts Program. I cannot speak highly enough about the program. The
instructors are all masters in the field they teach and each is
skilled at passing on the knowledge. This type of program is not for
someone looking to making a piece of jewellery in a week after
starting school. The program is designed to build a solid foundation
of knowledge, understanding, design and techincal skills to take you
into the jewellery world wherever you want to go.

Here is the web link

Before you look for a school though, you should have a good idea of
what you expect for outcomes. I see so many students frustrated
because they cannot make what they want to design. They keep saying
they are an artist and the school is stifling their creativity by
‘forcing’ them to make these cones so preciesely. What the students
don’t realise (because they don’t listen) is the cone shape is
absolutely essential to any further designing for setting stones…
But, that is not going to be done until the next semester. So,
Devan, it is about delayed satisfaction. Are you looking for long
term outcomes, or short term outcomes.

There are no right or wrong answers, only right or wrong schools to
fulfull your satisfactions! Colleges, universities, week end courses,
and even a two hour course, each has its purpose if it fills your
specific need.

When my father trained as a jeweller he did not have the luxury to
attend a college. He spent many years acquiring the knowledge I was
able to acquire in a couple of months in college (understated, of
course!). He had to learn by trial and error. I learned from skilled
goldsmiths, computer experts, etc. I kick myself often for not
having learned at my father’s side while he was still working.

Enough babbling and good luck to you.
Bonnie Penner(proud daughter of Ron Siemens)