How to Become a Jewelry Designer (Anywhere in the USA)

The jewelry industry has several career opportunities, one of which is that of a jewelry designer. Anyone with creative skills and a love for jewelry can learn the skills necessary and decide to go into this line of work.

Who is a Jewelry Designer?

Jewelry Design

A jewelry designer is someone who plans and makes the patterns for jewelry items like bracelets, necklaces, and rings. Jewelry designers frequently create a few product prototypes and evaluate the models for style, comfort, and durability. 

All jewelry stores specializing in custom designs have a jewelry designer on call. Jewelry designers also work in design studios, workshops, manufacturing facilities, and jewelry repair shops. 

The duties of a jewelry designer can change depending on their location and special requests. A buyer might, for instance, ask for a design that resembles something else the jeweler sells. The designer may create a fresh wax model using the prototypes for the previous item as a guide to satisfy the customer’s desire.

Sometimes, they may be in charge of selecting and evaluating the quality of gemstones like diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. They may also be responsible for sketching designs on paper or using computer software.

A jewelry designer might also be in charge of analyzing wax models and coming up with improvements. In some places, they could be in charge of smoothing and polishing metals to make them comfortable for the wearer. They might also be charged with cleaning and polishing jewelry with chemicals and polishing wheels.

Designers may produce the finished item themselves in small jewelry businesses. Large businesses tend to focus more on managing jewelry production and ensuring that the designs are completed appropriately. Jewelry design involves many activities; therefore, you must read the job description carefully before accepting a job offer.

How Many Years Does it Take to Become a Jewelry Designer?

Jewelry design and production certificates and degrees are available from reputable art and fashion colleges like Pratt Institute and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Training in these colleges usually spans two years to learn courses like jewelry fabrication, jewelry design history and branding, and Computer Aided Design. 

These schools would provide theoretical and necessary bench work experience and internship opportunities. You would be a certified jewelry designer at the end of your training, allowing you to get job opportunities in top brands.

Jewelry Design Career Path

There are two possible ways to kickstart your career as a jewelry designer. You can choose to either design jewelry yourself or partner with a jewelry design or production studio. 

Option 1: Designing Jewelry Yourself

This career path is necessary for those who have attended a certified jewelry design college. With that certificate in your resume, you could land an entry-level position as a designer for a jewelry brand. However, it’s impossible to get a job in any of these companies without the knowledge of CAD (Computer Aided Design) usage.

If you choose this path, earning a living wage will need years of work, study, and experience. If you can get your foot in the door, this career path is reliable and well-paying, despite its duration and extensive training requirements.

However, if you are a more entrepreneurial person, you can decide to make your handcrafted pieces. Following this path, you can launch a jewelry collection or company, giving you a high degree of freedom to go about your business as you want. Working for a jewelry company is different, as all that you create would have to be green-lit by your superiors.

There is no assurance that your jewelry collection will succeed if you choose this route because it would take time to start your collection from scratch. However, this route can save you a ton of time if you’re interested in starting your own business rather than working for a high-end company. Also, by following this path, you’re building a portfolio of projects that would stand as an edge if you ever apply for a big brand.

Option 2: Partnering With a Design Studio

The quickest (and most popular) approach to breaking into the jewelry design industry is collaborating with a jewelry design and production studio. A custom jewelry studio may create your complete line while considering your input. You don’t even need to have a basic understanding of sketching because the studio can turn your concepts into drawings.

The only letdown of this path is that you would require more money for the studio to produce your first collection. However, the money spent doesn’t compare to paying tuition fees and spending years learning the craft. When the work of designing is taken off your hand, you can focus your effort on other aspects of your business, such as marketing and managing sales.

How Much Money Can You Make as a Jewelry Designer?

According to Comparably, a jewelry designer’s pay range is from $35,552 to $53,328. The average salary is $44,440, with the top 67 percent earning $53,328. One hundred percent of jewelry designers say they receive a bonus each year. The average bonus for one is $1,000, or 2 percent of their annual compensation.

You’re expected to earn more if you work for a high-end jewelry brand. For example, according to information on Glassdoor (2018), jewelry designers at Cartier earn a base pay of around $5,411 and an additional pay of $432 per month. Those figures bring the annual earnings of a jewelry designer at Cartier to approximately $70,000 per annum.

Is Jewelry Design Hard?

As with any other skill that you want to make money from, jewelry design is difficult. If the craft were so easy, everyone would have dived into it. However, this doesn’t mean learning and entering the industry is impossible.

If you desire a more hands-on approach to your career, like the first example described earlier, you need to have an eye for design and a love for jewelry. Knowing how to draw would also be a considerable advantage to anyone desiring to be a jewelry designer. Finally, nowadays, you need to know how to use Computer Aided Design software; therefore, a basic knowledge of how to operate a computer is necessary.

After you’ve learned the skill, connecting with people already in the industry can be a big boost. There are jewelry designers today who come from a long line of designers; this makes it easier to enter the industry.

Jewelry Design Software

Most job industries have embraced digital solutions to make their work easier, and the jewelry design industry isn’t left out. Jewelry design software can help you create whatever jewelry designs you have in mind. 

You need to find jewelry CAD software that you’ll use to shape your desired jewelry model. This design software can help you create organic shapes, create custom patterns, and print your models with a 3D printer. Below are some of the popular programs used for jewelry design.

  1. RhinoJewel
    RhinoJewel is a specialized jewelry design program that enables you to rapidly, accurately, and easily constructs 3D models of jewelry.
  2. 3Design
    3DESIGN is an innovative 3D CAD software designed specifically for jewelers. Due to the jewelry CAD software’s inspiration from video game graphics, you can get a realistic rendering.
  3. Blender
    Blender is an open-source 3D modeling software developed by Blender Foundation. Unlike RhinoJewel and 3Design, Blender isn’t made specifically for jewelry design. People use it for many things like video games and 3D animations.

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