How could you pursue a career in the jewellery industry?

Employing over 55,000 people and made up of over 16,000 businesses, the UK jewellery industry could be one that you find yourself working in. But, have you considered the different roles in the sector? From goldsmiths to CAD designers, read on as we look at the various career paths you could follow to be involved with creating stunning pieces like wedding rings and necklaces.

Jewellery designer

Jewellery designers are usually involved right at the start of jewellery creation. Depending on the size of the business, designers may have to discuss a brief with the client and liaise with them through to completion. Individuals in this profession use their artistic abilities to bring an idea to life, either by hand or using Computer Aided Design, also known as CAD (see below).

Many designers create models out of the jewellery, which will go on to be mass produced in a business-to-business trade or given to the customer for a bespoke design. It could also be part of the designer’s job to source gemstones, metals and other jewellery parts to create their proposed piece.

This is a role that’s very competitive and not often advertised, so networking and building contacts in the field is a good idea to get started. You’ll find that many jewellery designers have foundation degrees, or bachelor’s degrees in related subjects which looks at modules such as metalwork, design and metal design.

For students who learn best on the job, apprenticeships are also available. Again though, these are increasingly competitive. And, for those who are looking to learn jewellery design alongside other commitments, there are short courses available at colleges and private providers, but these aren’t usually as in-depth or may take longer to get to the level that an apprenticeship or degree qualification would provide.

Goldsmiths/silversmiths

As their names suggest, goldsmiths and silversmiths are skilled in making jewellery out of gold and silver respectively. A Master goldsmith is highly skilled in working with precious metals using a variety of techniques.

To be a goldsmith, you need to enjoy being practical by working with your hands, as you’ll be forming metal into different shapes. Patience is also required, as you’ll need to be concentrating for long periods of time on one object. You may also be asked to make changes to jewellery to meet a client brief, so persistence is also key. Being able to create technical drawings is an advantage too and something that is sought after by some employees, depending on the company.

It’s important that you’re a team player too, but happy to work independently as well. It’s likely that you’ll be working with other craftspeople on different projects but will also spend time perfecting pieces on your own.

This is a highly skilled job, so training is necessary. On the job experience is key here and although gaining qualifications will help develop your industry knowledge, it may not help develop your skills in the way that you need them. The best way is to learn from other professionals, either through an apprenticeship or by spending time in industry.

Independent jewellers

Some people decide to go solo when it comes to making jewellery and set up their own business. This is usually done as an additional job or a hobby, but some people are successful in making a career out of it.

There are many sites out there that focus on arts and crafts and appeal to a market that wants something truly unique. You can teach yourself how to make jewellery pieces, and experiment with different materials to find your niche.

If it’s something that you’re passionate about, you can start your own website and possibly supply your goods to others in the future! If you want to be your own boss, this could be for you.

CAD designer

Developments in 3D printing and Computer Aided Design (CAD) means that there are more technical roles becoming available in the jewellery industry. There is now a requirement for people who can use these digital tools with precision in the design and manufacturing process.

These types of software are able to create prototypes of models, which go on to be made into 3D designs and castings. Jewellery that is designed with this sort of technology uses state-of-the art equipment and is drawn with precision like no other. The designs are then sent to mills, printers and growing machines, where they come to life with the help of 3D wax or resin.

How can you get CAD training? There are courses online and ways that you can gain a CAD qualification from home. Alternatively, get in touch with your local vocational college and see what related courses they have to offer.

More specific roles

In larger jewellers that deal with making a lot of new products or making repairs and alterations, there are a lot of specific roles. You might find your niche in jewellery making and find that you want a more specialised job. These roles again require patience and working with your hands.

  • Bench jewellers — make, repair and alter items
  • Model makers — design and create models which are used to make numerous copies or an item through the casting process
  • Casters — generate multiple casts for the production process
  • Engravers — skilled in the art of engraving, they can engrave lines words and other markings onto jewellery pieces
  • Enamellers — apply powdered glass and heat to the metal to create decorative finishes

Do any of the roles discussed in this article take your fancy? Start networking and build your portfolio to better your chances of breaking into the industry.