Careers in Jewelry Repair: Job Description & Salary Information

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Learn about careers in jewelry repair. Get job descriptions, salary and education requirement information. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a jewelry repair career.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Jewelry Repair

Jewelry repairers do intricate, precise work with precious metals and gemstones to fix pieces of jewelry. Those who focus on jewelry repair are known as bench jewelers. Read more about this job below:

Bench Jeweler
Education Requirements Trade/technical school program or classes (may yield a certificate or diploma in jewelry repair)
Program Length Six months to one year
Certification None required, though some employers may prefer Jewelers of America (JA) bench jeweler certification
Job Outlook for 2012-22 Slow to moderate decline (-10%)*
Average Salary (2013) Approximately $40,000*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Bench Jeweler

Bench jewelers do everything from simple repairs, like replacing a broken chain link, to complicated tasks such as soldering together a cracked setting for a gemstone. They may also help with jewelry fabrication by making wax molds and even creating new pieces according to designs. With experience, they can advance to the supervisory role of master jeweler.

Requirements

Jewelry repair programs are available at trade schools, technical schools and community colleges. These programs are not required to enter the field, and some bench jewelers learn through on-the-job training, but completing a school program is becoming more common. In these programs, you'll learn how to use jewelry hand and shop tools (like jewelers' torches and saws, polishing wheels, buffing wires and precision drills) and get a basic background in the properties of precious metals, the classification of gemstones and the use of computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software.

Professional organizations like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) also offer training; for instance, the GIA offers the 26-week Graduate Jeweler Diploma program, which covers both repair and manufacturing of jewelry.

In July 2012, some employers of bench jewelers were looking for the following:

  • A custom fine jewelry shop in Ohio seeks a full-time bench jeweler who can set diamonds, create wax models, do laser welding and work with all types of precious metals, notably platinum. It states that a repair worker is needed.
  • A jewelry store in Texas looks for a skilled bench jeweler to perform casting, re-tipping and repairing work, as well as jewelry polishing and finishing. JA certification and experience with CAD/CAM are valued.
  • In New York, a fine jewelry store wants to hire a bench jeweler for repair work and jewelry fabrication. Proficiency in diamond setting, wax modeling and jewelry polishing is sought, and candidates should be experienced with all metals. Customer service skills are a plus. This position requires at least five years of previous experience.

Standing Out

The BLS notes that certain new technologies are making jewelry repair easier and faster. You might want to look into gaining skills with lasers, which can be used to weld precious metals together more smoothly and seamlessly than traditional tools. You might also consider pursuing one of the JA's bench jeweler certifications, which come in four levels depending on your experience: Certified Bench Jeweler Technician (CBJT); Certified Bench Jeweler (CBJ); Certified Senior Bench Jeweler (CSBJ); and Certified Master Bench Jeweler (CMBJ). For each of these credentials, you need to pass a written test as well as several practical, hands-on tests of your bench skills. Some employers may specifically advertise for bench jewelers with laser skills and/or JA certification (see job postings above!).

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