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How to Become a Jewelry Designer

Four Methods:Getting StartedPracticing On Your OwnGrowing in the IndustrySelling and Creating Jewelry

Becoming a jewelry designer gives you the freedom to express yourself creatively, and share your designs with the world to enjoy. You have the opportunity to be self-employed or work for reputable jewelers across the globe. It is your choice to learn the trade through on-the-job training or gain formal training at a school. This job is perfect for driven people who need a way to share their creativity and style others.

Method 1
Getting Started

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    Pick your path to becoming a jewelry designer. There are many different routes you can take to becoming a professional and skilled jewelry designer. One way you can help pick your own path is by deciding what you may want to specialize in.[1]Decide if you want to only design, or design and create your jewelry.
    • If you want to stick with just the design aspect, you may consider focusing on your illustration skills, as well as getting an education in fashion and jewelry design.[2]
    • If you want to create your designs, you will then have to gain practice, knowledge, and expertise in working with medals, jewels, and various raw materials used to create jewelry. Try attending a reputable trade school for jewelers.[3]
    • Many jewelry designers skip school and learn through apprenticeships and on-the-job training they find by applying for work at reputable jewelers.
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    Learn the basics. New jewelry designers usually just start out by learning how to adjust, re-shape, and resize jewelry. From there, you can learn more difficult elements such as cutting and setting stones, mold-making, metalworking and engraving. Once you have these basic skills learned, you can focus on your personal style in areas of shape and texture that you can practice mastering.
    • Jewelers suggest learning about gemology, sales and jewelry fabrication in order to understand the process of jewelry production from beginning to end.[4]
    • While you do not need a formal education, there are certain skills you may want to consider taking classes on. You will need manual dexterity, artistic skills, steady hands, experience with CAD software to design, the ability to visual design ideas to actual jewelry, and a knowledge of popular fashion.[5]
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    Give yourself a competitive edge with a degree. Depending on the specific route you take, you may benefit from going to school. Jewelry makers who become specialized or independent tend to be more successful with a formal education. Also, employers find jewelers with a degree more appealing because they do not require as much on-the-job training as a person without a formal education. This will help you stand out against competition. You can take your education as far as a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts or Masters of Fine Arts in Metalwork and Jewelry Design.[6]
    • There are many accredited universities and art institutes that can give you the opportunity to cut and shape gems and pieces of metal first-hand.
    • A few of the best jewelry design schools are Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, Istituto Lorenzo De Medici – The LdM School of Design in Italy, and Birmingham City University in England.[7]
    • Advanced credentials and experience can help you one day if you decide to start your own business.[8]
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    Plan a timeline. Once you decide that you want to become a jewelry designer, you can begin practicing right away by signing and creating you ideas. However, if you are looking at finding a job, it may be helpful to know how many years you will have to put in before that may happen.[9]
    • If you decide to receive a formal education, you can be in school anywhere from two to six years.
    • You will need about one to two years of experience and on-the-job training to become a skilled designer. Keep in mind, you can receive this experience while you are still in school.[10]
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    Learn the process of creation. When a jewelry designer has an idea for a piece of jewelry, or is presented with an idea from someone else, there are several steps that need to happen before that jewelry comes to life. Depending on the situation, the design phase usually takes about seven days, and the production can take about two weeks. Here is the typical process of design to final product:[11]
    • The designer will start by drawing their ideas on paper with pencils. It has become common to design jewelry with special computer software that can give a better idea of what the piece will look like in 3D.[12]
    • The next step is to make a 2D design into a 3D prototype. This can be done in various ways such as 3D printing, CAD, or clay or wax molds that can be filled with melted metal.[13]
    • Once the prototype is worked out, the jeweler can start casting the metal.[14]
    • A jeweler can then cut, polish, and set precious or semi-precious gemstones into the jewelry.[15]

Method 2
Practicing On Your Own

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    Gain experience by crafting at home. You do not have to limit yourself to designing at a job or school. With the proper tools and materials, you can practice making your designs come to life. Materials and tools can become expensive, so you may want to start out with just the basic materials. Here are some general tools to get you started:
    • Scissors that are professional-quality are great for cutting into extra small places with ultra-sharp precision.[16]
    • Thread Clippers are useful for quick snipping work.
    • A standard graphing ruler is a basic piece of jewelry equipment that will help you visualize and create your designs.
    • Use less expensive materials than what you imagine your design ultimately having. If you are envisioning a piece with silver or gold fill, practice with copper wire or other base metal wire just to get the hang of things.
    • Hammers and mallets can be vital for forming jewelry.[17]
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    Expand your tool collection. There are so many different types of tools required to make the wide range of jewelry available. The type of equipment you buy will become more specific once you decide what type of jewelry it is you want to create. Here is a list of common equipment used to make jewelry that you may or may not need:
    • Bead boards
    • Disks and templates
    • Anvils and blocks
    • Wire jigs
    • Stamps and punches
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    Invest in a variety of pliers. Pliers may be one of the most helpful tools you use to help you create your designs. They are many different pliers out there, and they all offer a unique way to help you create jewelry. Here are essential pliers to have in your tool kit:[18]
    • Wire cutters are great for cutting headpins, eyepins and wire to string jewelry.[19]
    • Round nose pliers are good when you want a smooth curve and will help you in you make loops, bends, clasps and jump rings for wire work.[20]
    • Chain nose pliers have a flat surface and taper towards the tips which makes them great for getting into small spaces and gripping wire. They are also useful for opening and closing jump rings.[21]
    • Crimping pliers are a perfect tool for stringing beads because they have two notches on the jaws that easily secure tubes and beads.[22]

Method 3
Growing in the Industry

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    Begin work in the industry. It is important to get your hands working as soon as possible to gain knowledge, practice, and skills. Apply at local jewelers to see if you can get your foot in the door in anyway possible. Even working in the front of the store as a cashier can teach you a lot. You can learn how jewelry is displayed and presented to the customer, and listen to the feedback they have about the pieces.
    • Be sure that any jewelers you work with know the direction you are headed so that as positions open, or help is needed designing or creating jewelry, you can be considered for the job.
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    Network with as many people as you can. Spending time in an art, craft, or jewelry setting, and put the word out there that you have a passion for design. This is a great way to start a meaningful relationship with designers and other people who can help you launch your career in jewelry design.
    • Bring value to those relationship by letting people know what skills you can provide such as reliability, quality, sincerity, creativity, business and marketing knowledge, or dedication. Sell yourself and your skills so other people in the industry want to have a connection with you.[23]
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    Learn good communication skills. Jewelers work closely with employees and customers to figure out designs and talk jewelry. You will have to communicate with your customer about what they are looking for in their piece. This will require you to have great interpersonal skills so you can build strong relationships to help you to successfully sell jewelry.[24]
    • Consider taking a communications class at a local college.
    • Remember to always be polite and friendly when talking to fellow employees and customers.
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    Submerge yourself in the fashion culture. Jewelry designers need to know what the latest fashions in jewelry are, as well as the history of jewelry, so they can stay current, and sell jewelry. This will require research, attention to detail, and input from other people. Regardless of the education you receive, or the skills you learn, you will not be a competitive designer unless you have creative ideas that appeal to other people.
    • Try to get internships with designers, or volunteer at fashion events to learn about great styles.
    • Read as many books as you can about the history of jewelry. Great books to start with are, History Of Jewelry by Black and Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830 by Ginny Redington.

Method 4
Selling and Creating Jewelry

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    Sell your product at art fairs and home shows. These events pop-up throughout the country in large and small cities allowing vendors to rent a space to sell their product. If you want to sell your own product directly to the people, consider finding local fairs and shows near you, or go on the road with your jewelry. You will be charged an initial fee to have a spot at the show, but after that, the money you earn from your jewelry sales are yours.
    • This is also a great way to advertise your jewelry. Make business cards that let people know how they can contact you about your jewelry. Leave them out for people to take as they admire your pieces.
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    Set up an Etsy account. Etsy is a great website for creative entrepreneurs who want to sell their homemade products online. You can post pictures of your jewelry for people to view and buy. It is a convenient way to sell your goods when you do not have your own website or store and you are trying to get started as an entrepreneur.[25]
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    Be prepared for economic booms and busts. As the economy fluctuates, so will jewelry sales. Although jewelry sells at even the worst of economic times, jewelry is seen as a luxury item and sales will definitely take a hit if the economy is struggling.[26]
    • Try to make the best use of your time regardless of the number of sales you do. You can use slower months when sales are down as an opportunity to design and make jewelry repairs.
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    Learn important skills to become an entrepreneur. If you want to have your own store, be sure to learn all areas of the business, not just design and creation. You may want to just focus on jewelry design, but if you open your own store, you will have to know much more to become successful.[27]
    • Consider taking courses in business administration, merchandising, and entrepreneurship to help you start your business and become successful.
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    Have a strong will. There are many aspiring jewelry designers out there with no formal education for graphic or jewelry design. Regardless of where you stand with your knowledge on jewelry design, if you have the passion, you can become a designer. Whether that means working for yourself, or for another person, you can make it happen with passion, hard work, practice, and networking.[28]
    • It may take several years to find yourself in your dream position. Do not give up if things take a little longer to start happening for you than you expected.
    • Remember that learning a new skill takes a lot of practice. You may not have a natural knack for jewelry design at first, but with practice, you will improve your skills.
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    Take care of your health. Designing and creating jewelry can be hard on the body. You will spend many hours leaned over, shaping gems, and focusing your eyes on innate details. After a while, your body may start to ache, your hands may tense up, and your eyes can feel strained.
    • As you create, take time each hour to walk around, stretch out, and relax your eyes to prevent injury.
    • Always wear protective eye goggles when working with tools to cut and make jewelry.


  • Consider purchasing supplies from online auction sites, such as eBay, as another cost-saving measure.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Jewelry and Watches