Karen~ When I was employed with a state affiliate of a national
jewelers organization, I learned that owners of stores frequently
pay their employees in a secretive way. telling employees not to
discuss with other employees, their rate of pay or bonuses or other
benefits, Reason? They pay as low as they dare, with no standard or
openly known pay scale. If they can get a talented, solidly
experienced jeweler or sales person to work for peanuts, they WILL.
My recommendation to a person seeking work as a bench jeweler is
to ask about the pay scale for that shop. What is the starting pay
for ALL employees at the level you seek? For step increases? Is
there an annual increase? Do they pay commissions for sales for bench
people? Do all the employees work thru the same scale?
The issue is a transparent pay scale and one which provides for
assured increased pay for increased experience and skill. It is up
to see to it that we don't give our work away, to settle for unfair
OF COURSE there are shops in which the employees are paid fairily.,
But, in the greater percentage of stores, the pay IS too low and
owners may or may not feel moved to improve employee pay.
My suggestion is to become JA certified, or obtain some other
accreditization which can demonstrate proficiency and then, seek out
the best stores in town that can add to your skill set. In my view,
the only justification for working for very low pay is for an
apprenticeship, or the opportunity to learn from the best mentoring
employer you can find.
It is unfortunate that not all people are good teachers,or want to
share technical info either! It is a good idea to search out
employers who have a good reputation . It is not just the prospective
employee who should be scrutinized! It should work both way! On the
other side of the issue, there are wonderfully generous
teachers/owners who offer their hard-earned knowledge and
experiences to beginning and advancing bench and sales people. There
are those who will gladly pay fair wages that are regularly adjusted,
and the business benefits.
And, in the current US economy, most of the jewelry business is
slowing, Money for high wages is a more difficult issue, That
deserves consideration, but yet, it is each of our responsibility to
''pay our dues'' to learn to be the best we can be, and be fairly
compensated for our skill. and contribution to our craft and our