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Job advice needed

Hello everyone, I’m in dire need of some career advice. I’m fresh out
of art school and have no idea what to do now. I’ve been scouring
want ads and job postings for weeks to no avail, and I’m not going
to be in a situation where I can have my own work space anytime soon.
I’m willing to work hard, but I just can’t seem to get my foot in
the door. Does anyone have any sage advice they’d be willing to share
with me? I promise I’ll be eternally grateful.

Kate- Stop scouring job notices and hit the street. This is a very
insular business. Jobs don’t get advertised so much. When your
business is all about precious metals and folks don’t
hire strangers off the street. Go from shop to shop until you can con
somebody into taking you on. When I was new to Portland Or I got an
awful job at the local Jewelry supply house for about 6 months. I
hated the job, but met every jeweler in town. I got employment in
the trade soon after.

Once you’ve gotten in the door your work will speak for itself. If
you’re any good word will get out. When I was trying to break into
the trade, no one hired women. I had doors slammed in my face. I got
sworn at, spit at, and propositioned so many times I can’t count.
However I was good and it showed in my work. They couldn’t argue
with that. Eventually I got hired and once the word got out I was

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer

I'm in dire need of some career advice. I'm fresh out of art school
and have no idea what to do now. I've been scouring want ads and
job postings for weeks to no avail, and I'm not going to be in a
situation where I can have my own work space anytime soon. I'm
willing to work hard, but I just can't seem to get my foot in the
door. Does anyone have any sage advice they'd be willing to share
with me? I promise I'll be eternally grateful. 

Go buy a bucket and a squeegee/mop and go store-to-store offering to
wash their windows, inside and out for $10.00 Do a really good job
and promise to come back in 3-7 days depending on the location to do
it again. Give them a hand-written receipt (to save startup costs)
and show up when you promised. Do this with 20 stores a day, every

Save your money for your jewelry shop goals. And while you’re out
doing such a good job on this menial but necessary task, network.
You’ll find doors to get your foot into…

Hi Kate, If you can find a jeweler, craftsman,artist, etc whose work
you like, see if they need an apprentice. There will more than likely
not be alot of money involved. Be willing to help out to learn the
ropes. If you are passionate, work dilligently and you might be
suprised at the doors that open. Good luck my friend.


I was about 180 degrees from your position. I couldn’t find a
software design job, my chosen field, for more than five years. In
the meantime I had to determine a second choice of field so I started
training myself in jewelry. This group has been great in helping me
to do that. But just last week I just got a job offer in software
again, but I’ll have a fun hobby for the rest of my life.

My advice to you would be as follows:

You are still young. Your life will take you on many twists and
turns. You’ll find that the path to whatever goal you see in life
would well be non-linear. An old Spanish proverb, “God draws
straight with crooked lines.”

You should perhaps consider what other passions you have in life
which you could pursue for the time being, which might be combined
with your interest in art. Shake up your life a little, and focus on
seeing more of the world around you.

If you haven’t given serious thought to any alternative callings in
life, the suggest that you undertake an adventure.

To that end I would suggest you enlist in the military for a two to
four year term. You’ll find your mettle tested several times,
hopefully more by boredom than by terror, you’ll get to make more
social contacts, you’ll get to see more of the world, and if you have
student loans it would help pay them off.

If that doesn’t turn you on, another possibility is teaching English
in Japan or the People’s Republic of China.

There are endless possibilities.

Pick a path!

Andrew Jonathan Fine

Try what I did, try to get a job for a jewelry manufacturer
specializing in a certain field like stone setting or soldering or
polishing/ finishing, that way you can hone your skills and get paid
for it instead of taking it out on customers jewelry and run the
risk of ruining their stuff.

Steve Cowan
Arista Designs

you got to agree with this

hit the street. . Go from shop to shop until you can con somebody
into taking you on. Once you've gotten in the door your work will
speak for itself. If you're any good word will get out. Eventually
I got hired and once the word got out I was golden 

I got so much work from the street,I did it from an 12 year
informal apprenticeship in a sweatshopstarting as the one with not
much knowelege working in a room of masters, once i mastered alot of
production carving i was able to make beautiful pieces and i could
get alot of work from many famous designers by showing it to them,
talking is the fun part. To be upbeat and coherent about your craft
is a good thing, you must be able to perform in the tryout week or

Hi Kate,

Assuming you’re looking for work as a bench jeweler. The best advice
I can give is to start knocking on doors of area jewelers with in
house goldsmiths or the local trade shops (the independent
businesses who do the goldsmithing work for the retail jewelers on a
wholesale basis). If you can’t find the local trade shops, ask the
friendly retail jewelers if they might give you contact

Shops are often on the look-out for motivated, talented, young
people who are familiar with the tools, equipment and basic
techniques of jewelry making and repair.

That said, you need to present yourself as a serious, hard working,
reliable person who is willing to do whatever it takes to get her
foot in the door to learn the craft. Showingup in flip-flops and
saying that maybe this might be a cool thing to do, or that you want
to learn as much as you can so you can then go off on your own,
won’t get you the job. They want a person who plans on sticking with
the job.

Typically you start out at the bottom and work your way up the
ladder. Many shops have something of a curriculum (sometimes
informal) that each bench jeweler needs to go through. It usually
starts with polishing (lots to learn there), then simple sizing’s,
after you get that down it’s on to more complex sizing’s and simple
repairs, then more complex repairs and simple stone settings…on
and on. Remember that just because you have preformed different tasks
in school, you shouldn’t think you don’t have more to learn about
everything you feel you know. The good ones never stop learning and
improving their skills.

It can be a great career, but it all starts by convincing that first
employer that you are the right person for them to take a chance on.

Good luck!

Which part of the world are you in, Kate? If you really can’t find
any thing else, then consider doing a few months as an intern - that
could be jewellery, other metalwork, or even at a toolmaker’s
workshop. This only works if you’re happy to continue being a poor
student, of course. Do apply for grants, bursaries and residencies,
too. Beyond that, I can’t offer much advice, as I got my job because
my dad is a jeweller.

Jamie Hall

ok since all the above advice is equally subjective and based on
personal experience, i’ll give you mine as well. First, get a day
job, if it’s in the jewelry business don’t get into some long term
hell that crushes your own creative spirit, but make sure it pays
well enough for you to acquire some metal, stones and tools to start
making your own pieces. Spend as much of your free time as possible
building an inventory of your own while looking for venues to sell
your stuff. art shows, weekend markets, craft fairs, festivals,
whatever, if you work hard and give people a fair deal on beautiful,
durable, and comfortable pieces you’ll find that you make more on
weekends than you do at your “real” job. Then you can quit your job
and be your own boss, provided you find a full-time venue for your
work. Think outside the box, look for unusual places to sell your
stuff, go to places with lots of tourists and ask around at the
businesses that have nothing to do with jewelry and see if they will
let you set up a small table, try every option. the world has a way
of rewarding persistence and talent.

Good luck. dd

Which part of the world are you in, Kate? A little more generic
advise for anybody who’s looking, beginning at the beginning. I call
myself a “civilian army brat”. I counted it up one time and found
that I have lived in 50 different houses in 25 cities/towns in 5
states. That’s not so unusual but it is atypical. I flew to Kansas
City for an overnight with only the contents of my pockets, one
time. It’s all the same, the world. Most people have roots and ties,
which is the topic. I had worked some various jobs, and when I first
visited San Francisco in 1963 (that made me 11) on the way to the
Seattle World’s Fair, I fell in love with it and vowed to live here
one day. So, I was in a place, and I came here with a backpack, a
guitar and $1000, 27 years old or so. A week later I was working in
a shop that I knew nothing about, but gradually I learned that they
were considered the finest jewelry manufacturer on the west coast -
a major supplier to Zales, among many others. They are long defunct,
but to this day when I say the name eyebrows get raised and they
start calling me “Sir”. I came here to live here, but more
importantly I came here to make big-city, important jewelry, which
is just what I did. It was a career move. So, everybody has decisions
to make. If you want to work for Tiffany then you need to move to New
York or Paris. If you want to live in Tyler, Texas (been there),
then you will do work that’s in keeping with the marketplace and
there ain’t gonna be many 25 ct. emerald jobs, and likely no real
manufacturers at all. You can live anyplace and take off to do
shows, but there’s a posting today about how that model is dying -
has been for quite some time. I hear the Vegas JCK show was booming,
but that’s not art-fair stuff and it takes mucho financing and
business success to begin with. So - I’m not telling you what to do,
anybody. You love the family homestead then fine. Stay there and you
r life will be what it will be. If you have ambitions to be a
genuine, top jeweler and you don’t have an uncle in the business,
then you might do well to think about the whole world, not just
downtown Tyler. Even if it means leaving the familiar behind.

Hello John

So, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about where my “home” is lately.
It is an uprooted conglomeration of “heart ties” as I call them. I
have moved quite a bit, yet not nearly as much as you.

It’s evident that I fell madly in love with my jewelry talent soon
after my brother passed away. He died the day he graduated from
jewelry trade school, now that’s an abrupt cutting of roots! It was
a legacy that I inherited (more roots and ties). I use a lot of his
tools every day.

I’d never discourage anyone from becoming part of our jewelry
industry, but I would talk to them honestly about the challenges. We
are expected to be “chic, trendy, and mod” as I like to say… yet I
am a commoner, a mere artisan, an athlete with artistic ambitions.
So, I yam what I yam and have finally embraced my nomadic gypsy
heart. If I could dump most of my worldly possessions (it’s not a
lot) and leave right now I would do it in a heartbeat. However, I do
get attached to people and won’t just take off.

What kind of job do I dream of? Working at a country club year round
in a location where I can golf all I want all year long. So, I forge
ahead and still continue to be a successful designer… dreaming
of golf LOL !!!

Margie Mersky

I’d never discourage anyone from becoming part of our jewelry
industry, but I would talk to them honestly about the challenges.
Just to drive the point home, a Google of “London Jewelry
Manufacturers” brought up a lot of hits. This page:

Shows the scope pretty well. Before people start crying that they
don’t want to sit there assembling charmbracelets, when I was in a
large manufacturer, I was #2 and I built the 10 carat diamond
specials, too. Employers will use your skills to their best
advantage, if they’re smart. Web sites and showrooms show the
bread-and-butter work, by and large. That doesn’t mean that’s all
there is.