The UK jewellery industry currently employs over 55,000 people in over 16,000 businesses. This post is for you if you’re thinking of joining them and outlines some of the different roles in the sector. From goldsmiths to CAD designers creating stunning pieces like wedding rings and necklaces, read on as we look at the various career paths you could follow.
Developments in 3D printing and Computer Aided Design (CAD) mean there are more technical roles becoming available in the jewellery industry. It wants people who can use these digital tools with precision in the design and manufacturing process.
The new software is able to create prototypes of models that go on to become 3D designs and castings. Jewellery designed with state-of-the-art equipment is drawn with precision like no other. The designs then go to mills, printers and growing machines, where they come to life with the help of 3D wax or resin.
You may wonder, of course, 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.
A Master goldsmith is highly skilled in working with precious metals using a variety of techniques, so training is necessary. On the job experience is key here and although gaining qualifications will help develop your industry knowledge. The best way is to learn from other professionals, either through an apprenticeship or by spending time in the industry.
As a goldsmith, it’s important to be a team player and also be happy to work independently. It’s likely that you’ll be working with other craftspeople on different projects but will also spend time perfecting pieces on your own.
You also need to enjoy being practical by working with your hands, as you’ll be forming metal into different shapes. Patience is helpful too, 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 and something some employers seek, depending on the company.
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 CAD.
This is a very competitive role and opportunities are not always visible, so networking and building contacts in the field is a good idea to get going. You’ll find that many jewellery designers have foundation degrees, or bachelor’s degrees in related subjects looking at modules such as metalwork and design.
For students who learn best on the job, apprenticeships are also available. And, for those who are looking to learn jewellery design alongside other commitments, there are short courses available at colleges and private providers. However, these aren’t usually as in-depth or may take longer to get to the level that an apprenticeship or degree qualification would provide.
Many designers create models out of the jewellery that goes on to be mass produced in a business-to-business trade. Sometimes, they go to the customer as 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.
Some people decide to go solo when it comes to making jewellery and set up their own business. This often starts as an additional job or a hobby that can lead to a rewarding career. If it’s something that you’re passionate about, start your own website and supply your goods to others! If you want to be your own boss, this could be for you.
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.
Niche roles in the jewellery industry
There are a lot of specific roles in larger jewellers that deal with making new products or making repairs and alterations. You might find your niche in jewellery making and discover that you want a more specialised job. These roles again require patience and working with your hands. For example:
- Enamellers — apply powdered glass and heat to the metal to create decorative finishes
- Bench jewellers — make, repair and alter items
- Model makers — design and create models for making numerous copies or an item through the casting process
- Casters — generate multiple casts for the production process
- Engravers — engraving lines, words, and other markings onto jewellery pieces
Do any of the roles discussed in this article take your fancy? If so, start networking and build your portfolio to better your chances of breaking into the industry.
Our thanks for this post go to our friend, Caitlin Purvis at Mediaworks.