Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers typically do the following:
Technology is helping to produce high-quality jewelry at a reduced cost and in less time than traditional methods allow. For example, lasers are often used for cutting and improving the quality of stones, for intricate engraving or design work, and for inscribing personal messages on jewelry. Jewelers also use lasers to weld metals together without seams or blemishes, improving the quality and appearance of jewelry.
Some manufacturing firms use computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) to make product design easier and to automate some steps. With CAD, jewelers can create a model of a piece of jewelry on a computer and then view the effect of changing different aspects—for example, the design, the stone, or the setting—before cutting a stone or taking other costly steps. With CAM, they can then create a mold of the piece, which makes producing many copies easy.
Some jewelers also use CAD software to design custom jewelry. They let the customer review the design on a computer and see the effect of changes, so that the customer is satisfied before committing to the expense of a customized piece of jewelry.
The following are examples of types of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers:
Bench jewelers, also known as metalsmiths, silversmiths, goldsmiths, and platinumsmiths, are the most common type of jewelers. They possess a wide array of skills. They usually do tasks ranging from simple jewelry cleaning and repair to making molds and pieces from scratch. Some specialize in particular tasks such as repairs, hand engraving, stringing, wax carving/model making, enameling, stone cutting, soldering, stone setting, and hand building.
Gemologists analyze, describe, and certify the quality and characteristics of gemstones. After using microscopes, computerized tools, and other grading instruments to examine gemstones or finished pieces of jewelry, they write reports certifying that the items are of a particular quality. Most gemologists have completed the Graduate Gemologist program through the Gemological Institute of America.
Jewelry appraisers carefully examine jewelry to determine its value and then write appraisal documents. They determine value by researching the jewelry market and by using reference books, auction catalogs, price lists, and the Internet. They may work for jewelry stores, appraisal firms, auction houses, pawnbrokers, or insurance companies. Many gemologists also become appraisers.
Jewelry designers create design concepts and manage the prototype and model-making process.
Production jewelers fabricate and assemble pieces in a manufacturing setting and typically work on one aspect of the manufacturing process.
Although most jewelers and precious stone and metal workers have a high school diploma, many trade schools offer courses for workers who seek additional education. Course topics can include introduction to gems and metals, resizing, repair, and computer-aided design (CAD). Programs vary from 3 months to 1 year, and many teach students how to design, cast, set, and polish jewelry and gems, as well as how to use and care for a jeweler’s tools and equipment. Graduates of these programs may be more attractive to employers because they require less on-the-job training. Many gemologists graduate from the Gemological Institute of America. Trade programs usually require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent.