Professional Jeweler Archive: Encouraging Careers in the Jewelry Industry

October 2002


Encouraging Careers in the Jewelry Industry

A high schooler named Emily recently e-mailed me asking about being a jeweler. She wanted to interview people in the field to see whether it’s a career she’d like. I forwarded her query to David Peters, director of education at Jewelers of America, who I knew was working on a
project to draw more young people to the industry. I also sent it to Gary Gordon, the Oklahoma City
retailer who is endlessly enthusiastic about what he does. David and Gary were kind enough to copy me on their replies to Emily, and I was impressed by their answers. When Emily asked about the best part of being a jeweler, David answered “selling jewelry is not really about selling rocks and metal – it’s about helping people create memories that last a lifetime.” Gary said it’s also about making people happy. When Emily asked what else they’d like to be besides a jeweler, neither could think of anything better.

In a day when many children don’t follow in their parents’ professional footsteps and there’s a shrinking labor market in the service sector, it’s high time the jewelry industry begins reaching out to people like Emily. The questions and answers between Emily and two industry veterans tell me there’s a lot of positive energy out there, but it needs to be channeled into finding young people who are passionate about the field.

Enter Jewelers of America’s latest initiative, called Careers in the Jewelry Industry, made possible by JA state affiliates, individual members and a principal sponsorship by the Gemological Institute of America. Because GIA is the industry’s most visible educational institution and the sponsor of two annual career fairs for jobseekers, the partnership makes perfect sense. Peters developed a small brochure and a larger career guide to introduce jobseekers to 10 career paths in the jewelry industry: retail sales professional, retail management professional, bench jeweler, appraiser, designer, manufacturer, wholesaler/importer, gemologist/lab grader, watchmaker and educator. Each career path includes salary information, a job description, a day-in-the-life-of article, a profile of a real person on that career path and expectations about career growth within the industry. The guide also lists career resources, organizational and résumé tips, online resources, jewelry industry publications and organizations, and a comprehensive list of educational and training institutions. All of this information can also be accessed online at

The big challenge now is to spread the word. “We need to get outside our own four walls and aggressively go outside the jewelry industry,” says Peters. Copies of the condensed brochure will be distributed at high schools, junior colleges and adult career counseling centers and will be available at JA’s 10,000 member stores. Peters is having the Web site linked to 40 online job search sites as well.

Every jeweler in America can play a role by getting a table at his or her local school’s next career fair to give out the brochures and talk to aspiring jewelers. JA’s goal is to have jewelers attend 10,000 career fairs over the next five years. Jewelers who volunteer to do career outreach will be given step-by-step instructions, plus all materials and a holder for the smaller brochures.

“The Careers in the Jewelry Industry program is about the future of our trade,” says JA President Matthew Runci. Contact Peters at (213) 607-7654,

– Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications