Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Summary

jewelers and precious stone and metal workers image
Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers typically work at a jeweler’s bench.
Quick Facts: Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers
2016 Median Pay $38,200 per year
$18.37 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 37,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26 -3% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2016-26 -1,200

What Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers Do

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design, construct, adjust, repair, appraise and sell jewelry.

Work Environment

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers spend much of their time at a workbench or polishing station, using tools and chemicals.

How to Become a Jeweler or Precious Stone and Metal Worker

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers typically need a high school diploma to enter the occupation, and they learn the skills of the trade through on-the-job training.

Pay

The median annual wage for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers was $38,200 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers is projected to decline 3 percent from 2016 to 2026. Some job opportunities should be available to replace those who retire or who leave the occupation for other reasons.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about jewelers and precious stone and metal workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers Do About this section

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers
Jeweler’s torches are used to resize and repair jewelry.

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design, construct, adjust, repair, appraise and sell jewelry.

Duties

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers typically do the following:

  • Design and create jewelry from precious metals and stones
  • Examine and grade diamonds and other gems
  • Clean and polish jewelry using polishing wheels and chemical baths
  • Repair jewelry by replacing broken clasps, altering ring sizes, or resetting stones
  • Smooth joints and rough spots and polish smoothed areas
  • Compute the costs of labor and material for new pieces and repairs
  • Model new pieces with carved wax or computer-aided design, and then cast them in metal
  • Shape metal to hold the gems in pieces of jewelry
  • Solder pieces together and insert stones

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.

Work Environment About this section

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers
Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers use various tools and chemicals.

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers held about 37,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers were as follows:

Clothing and clothing accessories stores 30%
Self-employed workers 30
Jewelry and silverware manufacturing 21
Merchant wholesalers, durable goods 9
Personal and household goods repair and maintenance 3

Some jewelers and precious stone and metal workers work from home and sell their products at trade and craft shows. Online sales are also a growing source of sales for jewelers.

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers spend much of their time sitting at a workbench or standing at a polishing station. Computer-aided design (CAD) is also an important tool in the jewelry industry.

There is exposure to machines, fumes, and toxic or caustic chemicals, and risk of radiation. Many tools, such as jeweler’s torches and lasers, must be handled carefully to avoid injury. Polishing processes such as chemical baths also must be performed in a safe manner.

Self-employed workers usually work at home in their workshop or studio. In retail stores, jewelers may talk with customers about repairs, perform custom design work, and sell items to customers. Because many of their materials are valuable, jewelers must follow security procedures, including making use of burglar alarms and, in larger jewelry stores, working in the presence of security guards.

Work Schedules

Most jewelers and precious stone and metal workers worked full time in 2016, and about 1 in 4 worked part time.

Many self-employed workers show and sell their products at trade and craft shows during weekends. Retail store workers might also work nonstandard hours because they must be available when customers are not working, such as on holidays and weekends.

How to Become a Jeweler or Precious Stone and Metal Worker About this section

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers
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.

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers typically need a high school diploma to enter the occupation, and they learn the skills of the trade through on-the-job training.

Education

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.

Training

Many jewelers learn and develop their skills on the job. The length of training required to become proficient depends on the difficulty of the specialty, but often lasts at least a year. Training usually focuses on casting, setting stones, making models, or engraving.

Other Experience

Some workers gain their skills through related work experience. This may include working alongside a bench jeweler or gemologist while performing the duties of a salesperson in a retail jewelry store. Time spent in a store with a bench jeweler or gemologist can provide valuable experience.

Advancement

In manufacturing, some jewelers advance to supervisory jobs, such as master jeweler or head jeweler. Jewelers who work in jewelry stores or repair shops may become managers.

Important Qualities

Artistic ability. Jewelers must have the ability to create designs that are unique and beautiful.

Detail oriented. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must pay attention to large and small details on the pieces they make.

Dexterity. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must precisely move their fingers and tools in order to grasp, manipulate, and assemble very small objects.

Fashion sense. Jewelry designers must know what is stylish and attractive and presently in demand by consumers.

Interpersonal skills. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers interact with customers, whether they sell products in stores or at craft shows.

Near vision. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers need the ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Visualization skills. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must imagine how something might look after its shape is altered or when its parts are rearranged.

Pay About this section

Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers

$38,200

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Production occupations

$33,130

 

The median annual wage for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers was $38,200 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,060, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $66,110.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Merchant wholesalers, durable goods $40,420
Clothing and clothing accessories stores 39,620
Jewelry and silverware manufacturing 36,460
Personal and household goods repair and maintenance 33,920

Jewelers who work in retail stores may earn commissions for jewelry sold.

Most jewelers and precious stone and metal workers worked full time in 2016, and about 1 in 4 worked part time.

Many self-employed workers show and sell their products at trade and craft shows during weekends. Retail store workers might also work nonstandard hours because they must be available when customers are not working, such as on holidays and weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Total, all occupations

7%

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers

-3%

Production occupations

-4%

 

Employment of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers is projected to decline 3 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is largely because of projected employment declines in jewelry and silverware manufacturing, which are expected due to anticipated increasing imports of jewelry and rising productivity. Additionally, traditional jewelry stores may continue to lose some of their customers to nontraditional sellers, such as department stores and online retailers, and this shift is also likely to result in declining employment levels for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers.

Job Prospects

Some jewelers will be needed to replace those who retire or who leave the occupation for other reasons.

Job opportunities in jewelry stores and repair shops should be best for those who have graduated from a trade school or training program and have related work experience.

Strong competition is expected for mass manufacturing jobs and for jewelry designers who wish to create their own jewelry lines. Although demand for customized and boutique jewelry is strong, it is often difficult for independent designers to establish themselves in the market. Experience with computer-aided design (CAD) makes creating custom pieces of jewelry easier.

During economic downturns, demand for jewelry products and jewelers usually decreases. However, demand for repair workers should remain strong even during economic slowdowns because maintaining and repairing jewelry is cheaper than buying new jewelry.

Employment projections data for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers

51-9071 37,700 36,500 -3 -1,200 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Craft and fine artists

Craft and Fine Artists

Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create handmade objects, such as pottery, glassware, textiles, and other objects that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one.

See How to Become One $48,780
Fashion designers

Fashion Designers

Fashion designers create original clothing, accessories, and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and give instructions on how to make the products they design.

Bachelor's degree $65,170
Industrial designers

Industrial Designers

Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts.

Bachelor's degree $67,790
Retail sales workers

Retail Sales Workers

Retail sales workers help customers find products they want and process customers’ payments. There are two types of retail sales workers: retail salespersons, who sell retail merchandise, such as clothing, furniture, and automobiles; and parts salespersons, who sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts.

No formal educational credential $22,900
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join or cut metal parts. They also fill holes, indentations, or seams in metal products.

High school diploma or equivalent $39,390
Woodworkers

Woodworkers

Woodworkers manufacture a variety of products such as cabinets and furniture, using wood, veneers, and laminates. They often combine and incorporate different materials into wood.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,180
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/jewelers-and-precious-stone-and-metal-workers.htm (visited November 24, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

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Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.