Bench Press

October 1998

Precious Metals:Metalsmithing

Bench Press

JA's Bench Jeweler Certification Program is almost two years old and growing. Schools are making it easier for the bench worker to prepare for the tests. There's a scholarship program in place too

The Jewelers of America Bench Jeweler Certification Program was developed by a JA task force to provide the U.S. jewelry industry with its first formal standard for evaluating and certifying bench jewelers. Since the program debuted in January 1997, over 500 bench jewelers have been certified and 135 have begun the process, reports Mark Mann, director of JA professional certification.

Various educational institutions and jewelry companies have voiced their support for the program, making it easier for bench jewelers to gain the education they need to make certification a reachable goal.

Stuller Settings, Lafayette, LA, an ardent supporter of bench jewelers, believes certification is so important in raising the level of professionalism in the industry that it started a scholarship program to defray the cost of testing for the JA program. To be eligible, jewelers must apply for the program and scholarship by Nov. 1. The test fees vary, depending on the certification level and whether your store is a JA member (see box).

Program Fees & Stuller Scholarship

Test Level Test Fee Test Fee with Stuller Scholarship

FOR JA MEMBERS


First (Bench Jeweler Technician)

Second (Bench Jeweler)

Third (Senior Bench Jeweler)

Fourth (Master Bench Jeweler)

$485

$660

$660

$870

$240

$490

$490

$650

FOR NON-MEMBERS


First (Bench Jeweler Technician)

Second (Bench Jeweler)

Third (Senior Bench Jeweler)

Fourth (Master Bench Jeweler)

$585

$795

$795

$1,050

$290

$595

$595

$785

In addition, JA held its first ever annual educational summit in Las Vegas in June, coinciding with the JCK International Jewelry Show. Twenty-two schools that offer bench jewelry training participated. Many of the schools already follow the JA's certification criteria; others are changing and adding to programs to meet the certification standards. An important aspect of these education summits, which will be held yearly, is that they facilitate an open dialogue between the jewelry industry and the nation's educational institutions.

Why Certification Is Important
Certification is important for the industry as well as individual bench jewelers and their employers, Mann says. To have all bench jewelers certified would strengthen the industry in terms of service, quality and professionalism. It also would enhance the reputation of the industry in the eyes of consumers.

In addition, certification is meaningful for the store owner or manager, says Mann. If the owner is not a bench jeweler, certification serves as an important tool for evaluation during the hiring process. An employer can use it also to determine the skill levels of existing employees.

Where skills are deficient, the manager can arrange for additional training. But training can be time-consuming and expensive, so the more precisely the manager can determine what skills the bench jewelers already possess, the more effectively and efficiently he or she can direct their training.

Bench certification is important also from the standpoint of proficiency, profitability and good customer relations, says Mann. The last thing a jeweler wants to do is take in a repair or other bench job for which his or her bench jeweler is not qualified. The job either will take far too long to do, which will tie up the bench and make that particular job a real money-loser, or it won't be done properly, which can ruin a relationship with a customer.

A jeweler who knows exactly what his or her shop can do well and efficiently is in a better position to make benchwork a profitable asset rather than a necessary evil.

Certification can be used also as a powerful advertising, marketing and public relations tool, say jewelers with bench workers who've completed the JA program. Counter and window displays giving details about the certification are excellent promotions.

Today's customers have little basis for entrusting to a jeweler the valuable items they need to have repaired. Seeing tangible evidence that a store's bench jeweler is certified to do such work will help to give them that trust. JA offers press release forms for the jeweler, which can be sent to local media as a part of the store's advertising or public relations strategy.

Benefits for Bench Workers
Because the certification is recognized as a national standard, being certified is a strong asset in job hunting and professional promotion, says Mann. It's one thing for a worker to call himself a bench jeweler. It's something else to be able to show through certification the level of expertise and diversity he or she has achieved.

For more information about the JA Bench Jeweler Certification Program, call JA at (800) 223-0673. For more information about the Stuller Scholarship, call Stuller Settings at (800) 877-7777.

How the Test Works

A bench jeweler can earn Jewelers of America certification in four levels:

  • Bench Jeweler Technician
    Eight bench tests that must be completed in 14 hours.
  • Bench Jeweler
    Seven tests, maximum of 15.5 hours to complete.
  • Senior Bench Jeweler
    Five tests, maximum of 18.5 hours to complete.
  • Master Bench Jeweler
    Three tests, maximum of 36 hours to complete.

 

These are hands-on working tests and are administered by a JA-provided or -approved proctor. The program is flexible in location and format. Jewelers can take the tests at a designated JA test site, at their own benches or at a combination of both. They can obtain a list of JA sites from the association. The tools they will need and a proctor will be provided by the association.

A jeweler can enter the program at any level except master. For that level, a jeweler must take a master bench jeweler prerequisite test. This option is particularly important for bench jewelers who have had substantial training and/or years of experience.

Also, jewelers can take the individual test sections over a period of time to suit their work schedule.

Certain time guides must be followed. The important point is the bench jeweler and proctor devise a schedule that works.

The test results are returned to the jeweler and provide an evaluation of each test that, says Mark Mann, director of JA professional certification, can be used as a reference and learning tool long after the test is completed.

 

 



Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


 

HomeAsk the ExpertBrainstormStatsSite of the WeekConsumer Press Scan
Your Business On-LineCalendarMagazine & Site ArchivesStaffSite Map
Professional Jeweler EventsGuide to Electronic Services
Classified On-LineJA Certification Study Session

Home Ask the Expert Brainstorm Stats Site of the Week Consumer Press Scan Your Business On-Line Calendar Staff Site Map