Specialized Education Opens Door to Jewelry Industry
Turning Course Work Into a ‘Gem’ of a Career
BY BROOK ELLIS
Special to the Business Journal
Imagine, if you will, a job where you’re surrounded by diamonds, rubies, cultured pearls and sapphires. If this sounds like a dream come true, you might want to consider a career in the world of gems and jewelry.
Positions in this industry range from working with gemstones to designing or manufacturing jewelry, and from selling jewelry to managing a retail store. Each of these positions requires specialized education.
A position in retail jewelry sales happens to be one of the easiest and fastest ways to start a career in the gem and jewelry industry. An estimated 125,000 people are currently employed in retail jewelry sales in the United States.
This position can lead to a substantial income for top sales professionals, and commissions can add even more to a base income.
For one to succeed in retail jewelry sales, it’s critical to know how to confidently advise customers about gems, jewelry design and the manufacturing process. In fact, having product knowledge is considered more important than previous sales experience.
One way to gain a strong foundation in product knowledge and sales is with the Accredited Jewelry Professional (A.J.P.) diploma program. Becoming an A.J.P. will help you to not only answer the questions you will face in a retail situation, but also give you the tools for effectively closing sales.
If the science and technical side of the gem and jewelry industry sound appealing to you, then consider becoming a Graduate Gemologist (G.G.). This highly regarded diploma can open the door to such positions as buyer, appraiser, or even lab and research professional.
– Industry Needs Trained Workers
Gemological laboratories are continually seeking new talent to accommodate the rising amount of gemstones submitted for identification. And jewelers are hiring more individuals who possess the training required to identify and grade gemstones, as well as to prepare appraisals.
There are a number of managerial positions available in jewelry retail management, including: store owner, manager of a jewelry department, branch, or retail store, or jewelry buyer. For these types of positions, a Graduate Retail Management (G.R.M.) diploma , which comprises marketing, retail management, and entrepreneurship courses with specific application to the jewelry industry is ideal.
The G.R.M. diploma program uses college-level textbooks and an interactive classroom environment to teach marketing and business theories. These theories are then combined with real-world case studies and relevant issues from the jewelry trade to prepare students to face the challenges of operating a retail jewelry business.
Students enrolled in the marketing course can gain a fundamental understanding of marketing principles. The entrepreneurship course teaches students how to start their own jewelry business, including the critical steps in creating the all-important business plan and gaining funding for a “start- up” company. And the retail management course teaches the critical aspects of the various types of retailing , including a special focus on today’s e-commerce.
If you have a great imagination and a knack for being creative, and would prefer to work at a bench more than at a desk, then consider an art-and-design-related education in gem and jewelry. Your creativity, combined with technical training in jewelry manufacturing arts, can open a world of career opportunities for those trained as a Graduate Jeweler (G.J.).
Some positions this training can lead to include jewelry designer, professional bench jeweler and jewelry production manager. Becoming a G.J. is an ideal career path for those who like to make something out of virtually anything, and for those who want to work on jewelry , and not just in it.
It’s easy to see that whether you like to create, analyze, design, repair or sell, the jewelry industry may have a fascinating and rewarding career for you, starting with the right education.
Ellis is vice president of education for the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), a non-profit educational and research organization serving the international gem and jewelry industry.