Jeweler with loupe
Every now and then, I find myself giving advice to a young person looking to enter the field. I thought I’d share some of that advice here.

The first question I have to ask is, what kind of jeweler do you want to be? Fine jewelry or the kind-that-does-crafts-shows?

What kind of training do you have so far? I would ask next. Can you travel?

How much can you spend on your education?

Do you want a college degree also?

Let’s take our imaginary friend, we’ll say she’s about to graduate from high school and intends to go the State U.

Oh, if only we’d gotten to her sooner. So much wasted time! She could have been learning all through high school! She could have worked at a jewelry store, or at least a bead store. She could have started distance education with GIA.

Okay, onward we go. So she wants to go to State U., her parents insist she get a college education. Does State U. have any jewelry classes? No?

Well, she should take some business classes, and some art classes. I know, it’s hard for non-majors to get into art classes. She should double major in art, or minor in art. (Why not just major in art? Her parents won’t let her, they’re not paying all that money just so she can get paint on all her clothes.)

Too bad she can’t transfer to a school where she could take metals classes, but she can’t. Okay, so summers I’m sending her to “art camp” at Arrowmont, the John C. Campbell Folk School and the like (see links in the previous post).

All through college I want her to take GIA classes.

But guiding all these education choices is that first question — jewelry industry or crafts community?

Of course, if you’re not sure, just do the fine jewelry career preparation, and you’ll be ready for anything.

Okay, back to our imaginary friend. She’s graduated from college with four summers worth of fabulous workshops, travel, and gemolgical training. Now it’s time for “grad school.” Sure, she could get an MFA, but unless she wants to teach full time, I want her to go to trade school now.

Why trade school? It’s a more efficient use of time, and more practical training. And it will help her get a bench job, if that’s what she wants, much more than an MFA or BFA will.

Choose a school based on their reputation, whether they have a diploma program, and location. I know not everyone can move to go to a school. If you can do. Otherwise, choose the best one that you can commute to.

Okay, go get a job. Want to see a million opinions on the subject of training and career prep? Search the Orchid archives at Ganoksin.

(c) Elaine Luther 2007 All Rights Reserved

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