The best Trade school?

Hola Orchidians!

Hope this finds you all in health and happiness :slight_smile:

I was mulling over the past thread about MFA vs. trade school and I
gots my little noggin to wondering why there was little mention of
actual places one could go. I spent a couple of years at the
University of Oregon’s metals department but had to move on b/c of
funding quibbles about me having ‘too many credit hours’. Bah. I’m
elsewhere getting a BFA in a slightly related field [sculpture]
however I fully intend to return to metals once this is done. That
being said, and keeping in mind all the pro’s and con’s of trade vs.
uni education…

[And yes, I could slog through tons of PR spun by the folks who are
paid to do that for the particular institution… but I value your
input oh so much more]

Where did You go? How was it? Where is it? What is their specialty?
Would you go there again or elsewhere?

Give props to yer alma mater!!!

um. right.


I went to GIA (Gemological Institute of America) for the Graduate
Jeweler program and it was amazing. Its expensive but its great. The
instructors are fabulous and it was well worth the time and money I
put into it. I would definately suggest it to you. I did metals at
Indiana University and didnt like it but then again I prefer the
technical over the flowery “Imply the jewelry don’t actually make a
wearable piece” bit. Also the Alumni Association for GIA is great
for making connections. I have a CAD/CAM guy, a caster, and a stone
dealer all because I was friends with them in my classes at GIA.
Great for networking. Plus you make friends with the other classes
and thats where you get Gemologist friends from. GIA also has some
amazing lectures on gemstones and tools any all things jewelry

Yea, I will always push GIA because I loved what it taught me, and
don’t listen when people say such and such a place is better. Its
only because they didn’t go and don’t fully know. Each individual
school has its own merits and techniques for the same skill set. I
chose GIA because it had a great reputation. I got a lot of calls
because its on my resume. Im sure I could have done just as well at
The Revere Academy or some other school so I wont say GIA is a
better choice but I chose GIA and I am happy with what I learned.

Heres the GIA website url

Also heres the Revere Academy because I know it has a good rep too
and Ive met Alan. Hes a nice guy. I watched his vids and went to a
lecture at the Clasp given by him but that doesn’t qualify me to be
in the know about his school so I figured Id give you the website
URL and let you choose whats best for you.

I have a friend who went to school in Kutztown PA for jewelry and
she does good work too. She got a BFA.

Good luck on your search!!

Considering that most of the “Fine Art” programs will prepare there
students to advance to other “Fine Art” programs and once the student
has a PHD or MFA in “Fine Art” they are only qualified to teach “fine
art” I would strongly suggest that any student wanting to be employed
by the trade ether find someone to apprentice them or attend one of
the better recognized trade schools. Noting how GIA and the Revere
Academy have been mentioned I would like to add the Blain Lewis
school in Atlanta and the Program in Paris, Texas I belive this is
offered through the 2 year college there. I am sure that there are
other good schools but these four are known to most of the Jewelry
trade as programs which prepare there students to be able to ‘do the
basics’ and are therefore employable as entry level working jewelers.
These programs and 5 to 10 years f experience and you may know what
you are doing when it comes to repairing something really messed up
like Grandma’s ring which had all of the stones cut out then was run
over by a truck.


I’ve moved around a bit and wherever I was I had a philosophy; go to
the barber nearest to you. It’s always worked for me. I think this
might work for trade schools too. There will always be a school that
has more appeal than others for non-course study reasons, but all a
trade school can do is PREPARE you. It will never teach you
everything, or even most things, let alone give you the experience
you need to become proficient in anything.

I’ve personally hired people who have graduated from GIA and TIJT in
Paris, TX. They have quite different styles of teaching. I found both
candidates lacking in capability and I don’t blame the school for
that. I’ve also hired a trade school drop out, can’t even remember
where the guy went, but he was one of the best novice jewelers I ever
had. Unfortunately we weren’t able to work together very long.

The point is that it’s not really the school you attend or even what
you get out of it. It’s what you put into the program and what you
bring to it. I don’t know of a single jeweler who would hire one
jeweler over another based solely on where they went to school. It’s
all about capability.

graduate of Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee in jewelry way back
in 1983. I don’t think they even have a jewelry program there
anymore, but I’ve heard nothing but accolades about their watch

Hello :slight_smile:

I’ve done some surfing on trade schools, thanks to some kind
direction, and have been looking at GIA and the Revere Academy. And
indeed, I find glowing PR from both places. I also see quite a
difference in location and price. Now what I need is personal
testimonal for either place or any other.

Where did you go? Do you think your experience there was the best or
was it lacking in any way? Did your particular graduate wallpaper
that much of a hiring difference… or if you are self-employed, how
well did it prepare you for the realities of such a life? How do
people [professional and customer] respond to your educational
choice if it is brought up? Was it cost effective? Where there any
defining characteristics [attitude, goals, background, etc] of the
student body/faculty at your school?

Again, my greatest thanks for helping me during this bittersweet


and have been looking at GIA and the Revere Academy. And indeed, I
find glowing PR from both places 

I’ve never attended a jewelry trade school. But the Revere Academy is
30 feet down the hall from us, and I’d like to give them a glowing
recommendation based on knowing Alan and the people he has teaching
for him. They are very well equipped, professional and professonally
oriented - nice people, too. You might even find Orchid’s own Jim
Binnion there at times - that’s a treat. The Best? I couldn’t tell
you that at all. But they’re a fine school.

Hello Angela,

My suggestion would be to get a job working for a jeweler who is
also a craftsman more than a retailer. Then take breaks several
times a year to take short workshop courses in specific techniques
that interest you. On-the-job is very different learning than

Good luck.
Stephen Walker

Again, I went to GIA. It was the most amazing educational experience
Ive had. It gives you the basics so that you can work for someone
else who will teach you what you can’t learn in school. GIA is
amazing because you learn a lot but also its an amazing networking
tool. The people you meet that can help you in the industry are
incredible. The lectures outside of class also teach you a lot about
the basics in the industry.

A lot of what you will learn will happen outside the classroom after
you’ve put your new diploma on the wall. The people you work with the
companies you work for, they teach you how to actually be a jeweler.
The school gives you the basics and you make up the rest over the
years. For the basics, I say GIA.

The University of New Brunswick started a Bachelor of Applied Arts
program (Students gain valuable experience in augmented reality at UNB | UNB is here | UNB) in
conjunction with the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design
(About - New Brunswick College of Craft and Design). I took a science and humanities
stream at the University and stayed on for the third year of Metal
Art/Jewellery even though the credits did not apply to my degree.

Cost was the same as any Canadian University degree. Bridgette
Clavette taught my first year, Ken Valen my second and Patrick Perry
my third year. All of them were top notch, Bridgette emphasized
creative, Ken production and craft and Patrick a weird combination
of the two, demanding ghigh quality design before he would sign off
on a project and you could commence and not excepting anything but
the highest level of craftmanship, helping you re-learn any skill
that is stopping you from attaining this standard (I remember a
arduous retraining for us all in polishing techniques so we could
achieve the mirror finish he demanded).

Hope that helps,
K. David Woolley
Fredericton, NB
Diversiform Metal Art & Jewellery

Hello, Personally,

I recommend doing an apprenticeship. I went to Paris, and it’s a good
school, but I don’t feel that school adequately prepares students for
the rhythm of a shop. I don’t know if the other schools have an
externship you could do before graduating, but I recommend getting as
much hands on experience as possible. I know it certainly would have
helped me!