Struggling with what to do after graduation? If you’ve just finished a degree in jewellery making and design, you’re probably trying to figure out which steps to take next. And deciding which path to go down can be a daunting decision to make. But the direction you go in will depend on whether you want to create bespoke, one-of-a-kind pieces or an entire line for the mass-market. Discover the steps you can take towards becoming a jewellery designer or maker below.
Becoming a jewellery designer
Are you more interested in coming up with your own unique jewellery designs instead of making them? Then heading down the path of becoming a jewellery designer is probably more suited to you.
Jewellery designers are often freelance workers who work in a competitive market – but what does it take to become one? We’ve pulled together a couple of steps you can take to dip into the jewellery designing market below.
Further jewellery courses
Maybe you don’t quite feel ready to make the jump, or are there still some areas you want to improve in? Advanced jewellery courses are an easy way to brush up on your skills before making any decisions. For example, further courses in CAD (computer-aided design) may be beneficial for you to develop your design techniques and skills in depth. Either way, completing an additional jewellery course can help to expand your knowledge and give you the extra experience you need to progress in the jewellery industry. Getting online and having a look at some of the available courses will help to give you an idea of where you can go and what might be the best fit for you, but we’ve pulled a couple of academic bodies for you to take a look at first:
Some of the courses offered at the School of Jewellery in Birmingham include:
- Jewellery and Related Products
- International Jewellery Business
- Gemmology and Jewellery Studies
There are over 100 courses available at the London Jewellery School, which include:
- Soldering Masterclass
- Granulation and Fusing
- Chain Making
BAJ offer a range of courses in jewellery design, manufacturing and gemmology – including a variety of CAD jewellery courses for a range of abilities.
All of these jewellery courses can be beneficial to both jewellery designers and makers, to develop a better understanding of the industry and the technique behind it all.
Becoming a jewellery maker
Thinking of becoming a jewellery maker instead? As well as the courses mentioned above, there are a few other ways to dip your feet into the jewellery making market.
A jeweller’s apprenticeship will give you the chance to get to know the experts and work under their management to get quality experience in the jewellery making industry. You can develop your skills by creating your own designs, with the help of master jewellers to develop and improve your designs through specialist techniques. Although jewellery apprenticeships often vary in how they’re run and what you do – so find the right fit for you and get your research done before you complete any applications.
Not sure how to become a jeweller’s apprentice? Start off by browsing online to find any apprenticeships that are available in your area and find the one that best suits you, your needs and your abilities. Some of the jewellery apprenticeships you may want to consider are:
- The British Academy of Jewellery offers a Level 3 Jewellery Manufacturing apprenticeship and a Jewellery Retail apprenticeship at Levels 2 & 3.
- The Goldsmiths’ Company Apprenticeship Scheme offers practical training across 3-5 years so that you can gain in-depth, hands-on experience in the jewellery industry.
Wondering how to become a custom jeweller, without going into further education? If an apprenticeship isn’t for you, getting stuck into the industry by getting a job at a jeweller’s may be the best way. And don’t be afraid to really get involved. Asking questions and getting to know the processes on the job will allow you to gain a better understanding of what really goes on in a jewellery workshop. From packing the jewellery, to making the earring backs, to producing a full ring.
Put together a jewellery portfolio
This one goes for becoming a jewellery maker or a jewellery designer. You may be asked to submit your portfolio digitally ahead of time, or you may be able to take a physical copy to your interview on the day. The best way to build your portfolio is by doing it as you go – so document any jewellery pieces or designs as you finish them. Looking back to find your past work to add it to a portfolio will be time-consuming and can be difficult over time. So, building your portfolio as you work will ensure that every detail is documented, and any future employers will see your progression as a designer-maker.
Going it alone…
The breadth of the role of a jewellery designer or maker depends on whether they work in-house for a company or brand, or if set up their own company. But what happens if you decide to go it alone?
Networking and building your list of contacts will get you started off nicely. And if you already have your own pieces or small business to showcase, attending trade fairs and exhibitions will help you put your name out there – driving up awareness and business in the process. You can also enter competitions to gain that extra bit of industry exposure. Because who knows, maybe you’re that hidden gem they’ve been searching for?
For more tips and tricks on setting up your own jewellery business, head to our business advice hub.
Jewellery designer vs. jewellery maker: which path is best for you?
Ultimately, this decision boils down to your preferences. Are you more interested in getting stuck in with the making of other people’s jewellery designs or do you want to make your mark by pulling together your own designs? Are you more skilled with your hands or are you a whiz on CAD? The answers to these questions will help to make your decision, but it ultimately comes down to your preferences. If you don’t already have an idea, getting a taste for one or the other by working in-store or testing out new jewellery courses should help to give you a bit of an idea.
Wherever you go and whatever direction you head in, be sure to pick up all of your jewellery making supplies from Cooksongold – from jewellery tools to bullion and chain, we supply a vast range of products to suit every jewellery making project.