Where is the best training?

I live in Central Florida and would like to take some jewelry
classes, like setting stones, casting your own designs, and
metalsmithing. I am wondering if anyone has taken classes in South
Florida at Stewart’s International School for Jewelers and if so how
was it? Also, I know GIA is considered the best in the industry, but
can I get just as good training else where for jewelry arts? What
does everyone think? Please let me know.

Tamara Panasenko

Tamara, One of the finest, well established, jewelry schools in your
neck of the woods is Stewarts International School for Jewelers in
Jupiter Florida. Jim, the instructor, has operated the school since
1973. He teaches all facets of jewelry manufacture and repair. The
website is www.stewartsintlschool.com For a more personal
conversation call him at 1(800) 843-3409. I have known Jim for
several years and during that time have consistantly heard excellent
reports about his school.

Hey ALL, To those who think GIA is the Best Training. I have Researched
I This, if you are Going to be I The Jewelry Industry and you want to
size rings all day or work at the Counter go to he GIA for 6 month and
enjoy the sun and surf. If you want to Design Jewelry Go to college.

I you want to learn technics go to where I am going for 16 months at
the oldest trade school in the US being North Bennet Street School in
Boston. We only have 10-14 people in the class and there are more tools
than GIA has to offer. Plus a lack of run around of the larger
schools. (& No Bull!)

Check it out on the web I think the address is

Did you go to GIA as well? If not, to you at least view the
classrooms? It’s not that I am supporting GIA, I am a competitor-I am
a freelance jewelry/gemology teacher, but I always like to ask people
where they get their criteria in judging places.


Tamara, I also went to Stewarts International School for Jewelers
back in the mid 80’s and I would and have highly recommended this
school. When I attended I learned alot from Jim. It was one of best
class that I have taken. I went for his stone setting course. So if
you have a chance to go I would go. Herb

Hey ALL, To those who think GIA is the Best Training. I have Researched
I This, if you are Going to be I The Jewelry Industry and you want to
size rings all day or work at the Counter go to he GIA for 6 month and
enjoy the sun and surf. If you want to Design Jewelry Go to college.

I think this will be an unpopular opinion, as GIA has set itself as
the authority is so many areas, but I entirely agree. A degree from
Rhode Island School of Design, or Temple University, or even Southern
Illinois University at Carbondale (under Richard Mawdsley) would give
you a lot more for your time and money.

I’ll second that. But the type of training is different. The GIA
program is not intended to teach artistic compentence or creativity.
It’s not aimed at anything other than basic competency in traditional
industry/tradework types of skills. The sorts of things you need to
know to work at the bench in a typical retail jewelry store. For
that market, the GIA courses are very well done and an efficient way
to learn these skills. They aren’t, of course, the only such trade
schools, but the do have the advantage of being able to couple the
benchwork skills with what’s likely to be the best gemological
education you can get in the U.S. Since knowlege of gems is so
crucial to much of what a trade jeweler needs to know to be effective
and safe around fine jewelry, this gives the GIA program a decided

However, keep in mind that we’re talking here about a program you can
finish in six months.

The college level programs are often four year bachelors degrees in
fine art, or even 2-3 years added work after that leading to master of
fine arts degrees, which will not only expose you to a far, far, wider
range of techniques and skills relating not just to trade level
jewelry work, but to all phases of original creative work in many
types of media, and within the jewelry field, a variety of metals
(GIA, for example, will not be teaching you to do granulation or
mokume, or how to raise a six inch diameter flat circle of sterling
silver into a seamless container with just a selection of hammers and
stakes… And the college programs (the good ones, at least) will also
be adressing business concerns of how to survive as an artist, how to
market your work, and the like. And importantly, lets not forget the
universally required series of art history courses, which will teach
you about the various things done, both in metals and elswhere in the
arts, in the past. The number of trade jewelry designs produced by
proud but untrained (aesthetically) jewelers which are merely tired
repeats of work that is often already decades out of date is
astounding. A good art school background can help you to produce work
that is actually new and unique and creative, not just rehashing all
the stuff that others have already done before.

But it’s important to also mention that because the art schools are
generally aimed at producing independent creative artists, not
commercial bench workers, the training offered in some of the
traditional skills covered in the GIA courses, may be actually less.
While GIA’s courses will make very sure you know how to do repairs on
chains and sizing on rings, many college course may not go into such
mundane details. So the graduates of the college programs sometimes
need to brush up a bit with some of the GIA courses, if they then wish
to go just work in the industry as commercial jewelers. If what you
are looking for is specifically those skills needed to work in a
jewelry store or trade shop environment, then the GIA type program may
well be the better choice.

And in between GIA and the full blown college level programs, there
are also other options. Alan Revere’s acadamy in San Francisco
deserves special mention here, as it bridges the gap between the art
schools and the straight trade oriented programs rather remarkably.
Revere’s programs offer much of the metals oriented technical
training of both art school programs and the GIA style programs. The
courses will be more specifically focussed than the very broad ranging
college programs, but will still cover many of the interesting and
unique techniques. And you won’t have to sit through countless art
history slides (both good, to those who dread such, and bad, for
those who could benefit from the added understanding of our historical

Among the various college level programs I’m aware of, which are
worth specifically mentioning, are (no particular order)

Tyler school of art, part of Temple University, Philadelphia. Where
I earned my MFA. Rhode Island School of Design. (RISD) San Diego State
University University of Wisconsin, Madison (where I got my original
start in jewelry, way back when) University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Indiana state Southern Illinois University at Carbondale University of
Washington, Seattle State University of New York (SUNY) Kent State
Washington University, St. Louis Cranbrook Acadamy of Art (graduate
level only)

There are many more, many equally good but which don’t quickly occur
to me as I write this. Also, these are mostly schools which have, in
addition to a good undergraduate department, also good graduate level
programs, which speaks well to the depth of the undergraduate program
as well as the facilities and reputation of the faculty. There are
many, many college, junior college, and community college programs in
jewelry that are also quite fine, but which may be smaller, or not
have graduate degree programs. These may be lesser known, yet still
be very fine programs for their size. Often these programs will be
less costly than the bigger better known ones. Some of the well
known programs, though, will still be cost efficient. Temple/Tyler’s
tuition, for example, as part of a state funded university system, is
far less than schools like RISD, which is a private institution.
(When I was looking at grad schools, I was accepted at both of them,
among others. I preferred the Tyler program both for it’s unusually
extensive facilities and great location, and also for the fact that
it’s tuition was less than half the cost of RISD as I recall…

Hope this helps.

Peter Rowe