Yeah. I've been watching that particular freight train rolling down the tracks for quite a while. But I'm not entirely sure the future is really that dire. Yes, production bench guys are in for a world of hurt, but that's been clear for the last 20 years at least.
On the other hand, the oldest traces of physical art are jewelry. Going back tens of thousands of years. So the impulse to decorate ourselves has been around as long or longer than we have. (Neanderthals may have made jewelry, for example.) So it's reasonably certain that people will continue to want to decorate themselves (or their partners) for as long as they remain people. Unlike mail carriers or typists. Those jobs can disappear without requiring a change to human nature. Odd to know that we're part of a field that really is part of human nature. Nice and secure, if we can figure a way to make that pay.
My take is that there's not a whole lot of future in basic bench work, but people are always going to want to give their partners tokens of affection, decoration, "this seat taken" signs, what have you. They may not be 2ct. solitaires, but I'm not sure I really think that's a bad thing. There will still be people willing to pay for higher end custom work, as well as probably a vast market in lower end decorations. A whole lot of beading and plastic trinkets, unless I miss my guess.
So the question then becomes which market do you aim for: the nobility, or the mob? Look back at the history of the trade in the 1700's. Much as I pray I'm wrong, I strongly suspect that's what we're heading for. A few prestige jewelers catering to the nobility, nobody in the middle, and a great number of pushcart vendors selling beaded necklaces and mass produced trinkets.
Knowing where things are going ahead of time, which market do you want to aim for? And how do you spot 1789 ahead of time?