This is a difficult question to answer.
The problems I have seen in Australia began several years ago.
Firstly I started my business 40 years ago in London as a designer
maker of jewellery. I was trained as a silversmith in Scotland and
Denmark but there was little opportunity in that field so, as I had
wife and two children I became a jeweller and made a reasonable
living working in my own business.
My family lived in Australia so we joined them 30 years ago and From
the outset I found work as I happened to have a range of designs
which sold well through several good shops and galleries.
I produced two types of work quality precious jewellery and a range
of gallery work, also I was one of the first to work in titanium in
Australia with a range of rings with 18ct yellow or white gold inset
or layered and riveted. These sold well as mens wedding rings.
I also taught part time in various colleges till recently.
And have had a number of private clients over the years.
Now I am not complaining as, mainly, I have been successful and dont
need to worry financially, not rich but OK.
What saddens me is that the handmade jewellery industry is in decline
what with cheap imports, some of reasonable to high quality from
nameless countries! The use of CAD, not to produce exciting new
designs, but merely copy others work or repeat past work.
I feel sorry that students and ex students will have difficulty in
selling work through chain stores which dominate the market or have
to compete with mass imports through cheap shops.
The training of trade jewellers is virtually finished and the only
college giving good training to designer makers is so expensive as to
put it beyond reach.
I have found even at the high end of the jewellery range many of my
prospective clients want a copy of a branded ring and even turn up
with their own diamond, which they bought on the internet! You are
lucky in America that you have a huge population and there seems to
be a market for work like the work on your excellent Ganoksin site.
Almost every year I have made a Silver work, bowls, teapot, boxes,
largish objects, spoons etc, none of which has sold.
I wish you all luck, as ‘Free Trade’ is not fair trade as we see here