The field of jewelry design is extremely creative and there are many opportunities for creative individuals who are interested in putting their design skills to use in the industry. Depending on individual interest and talent some professional designers will work on many different kinds of jewelry pieces while others may choose to specialize in one specific area. The design process often starts with sketches on paper or through using computer software. Some designers will work with manufacturers, while other designers will be in complete charge of the construction process and make their pieces entirely by hand. Jewelry designers have the option of working for already established jewelry companies, starting their own business, or working as freelancers. Though it is not a field requirement to seek formal education it may strengthen individual design skills as well as knowledge of the business side of the industry. Those who are seeking employment at established companies may also find that a degree will give them a competitive edge among other candidates.
Associate Degrees in Jewelry Design
Associate degrees in jewelry design typically consist of 60 to 90-credit hours and can be completed over the course of two years. Program curriculum will consist of general education courses as well creative design courses. Course titles include Metalsmithing, Color & Design Theory, Jewelry Design Ideations, Art History, Gemology & Gem Identification, History of Jewelry, and Professional Practices. These programs will require a lot of hands-on work in which students will have the opportunity to design and create their own jewelry pieces in design studios and labs over the course of their studies. Some programs will also require students to submit a completed portfolio or collection at the end of the program just prior to graduation. Upon graduation designers will be ready to take what they've learned into the professional field. Some may choose apply to jewelry companies, while other will go on to establish their own businesses. The majority of these programs can be found at art institutes and technical schools that specialize in the field of design. Applicants interested in earning an associate degree in jewelry design should have a high school diploma or GED. Due to the design nature of these programs most applicants will also need to submit an entrance portfolio to showcase their creative skills and abilities. Students at this level can expect to pay anywhere between $4,590 and $35,290 in annual tuition, depending on the school.
Bachelor's Degrees in Jewelry Design
A typical bachelor's degree program will take students four years where they will complete 120 to 180-credit hours of required coursework. Coursework will take students through art history and the elements of design, giving them the opportunity to build their own design aesthetic based off of past and present industry trends. Classes that students can expect to partake in include 20th-Century Art, Studio Practice, Drawing for Design, Idea Visualization for Jewelry Design, and Portfolio Development. Graduates can go on to start up their own design company, work as jewelry manufacturers, or even work as a buyer for retailers that carry jewelry. This level of program is available at universities and art schools. First time freshmen applying for a design program will need to submit their high school transcripts or GED certificate. It is also typical that applicants will need to submit a design portfolio. Some programs that are more competitive in nature will also ask for a statement of purpose, a letter of recommendation, and a resume outlining the applicant's prior achievements pertaining to art and design. Applicants who have prior college experience will need to submit any college transcripts that they may have. Average annual tuition for a bachelor's level program will cost students between $26,190 and $35,190.
Master's Degrees in Jewelry Design
Individuals who are interested in mastering their craft in jewelry design will find that participating in a master's degree program will enhance their design and creative abilities. This degree level will make graduates stand out among competitors within the industry. Graduates will go on to work as jewelry designers, instructors, and jewelry repairers. Depending on program structure, students will be required to complete 30 to 90-credit hours of study, which can be finished over the course of two years. Key courses that students will need to take are History of Jewelry as Source, History of Adornment, Graduate Jewelry, Metal Forming and Casting, Professional Seminar, and Jewelry Seminar. Towards the end of their program studies most students will also be required to complete a thesis paper and creative project. Many programs will also offer graduate-level internships for students who are interested in putting their knowledge and skill to work in a real-world setting prior to graduation. The basic enrollment requirements for a master's level program include three reference letters of a professional or academic nature, a bachelor's degree and all transcripts from undergraduate study, a statement of purpose written by the applicant, and a portfolio showcasing the applicant's jewelry creations. Tuition and fees will on average range from $29,460 to $46,800.
Certificate Degrees in Jewelry Design
The purpose of a certificate degree program is to give participants college-level training experience without the need to commit to completing a lengthy full degree. The curriculum at this level will often consist of four to six units, which can be completed in a year or less. Courses include Basics of Creating and Photographing Jewelry Displays, Introduction to Tools and Materials, Jewelry Design Business, Copyright Law, and Marketing Designs. Some programs will also require that students showcase their jewelry designs at an exhibition upon the end of the program. Graduates go on to work as jewelers, designers, and appraisers. In order to apply for this level of program applicants must submit their high school transcripts. If the applicant did not graduate high school a GED will suffice. During the admission process applicants must also showcase their design abilities by submitting a portfolio. Tuition for these programs is typically affordable and can be found for less than $1000 for the entire program. There may also affordable payment options available for students who are unable to pay for the total cost of education in full.
There is no specific programmatic accreditation agency for jewelry design programs alone, however, The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) is the leading accrediting body when it comes to schools and programs that are artistic in nature. NASAD provides accreditation to art and design programs that meet the level of quality set by the organization. NASAD evaluates schools and programs in the areas of faculty, program structure, testing procedures, and resources, as these are all important factors that play a role in the quality of education students are receiving. By participating in a NASAD accredited program students can be assured that they are receiving the best education that is going to prepare them for their future careers within the industry of jewelry and design. Students who are interested in enrolling in a NASAD accredited program can search for them directly on the organizations website.
Professional certification is not an industry requirement, however some individuals prefer to seek certification to showcase a higher level of professionalism to employers and clients. Jewelers of America (JA) offer several different certification exams that professionals can take. To qualify for any of the exams available through JA the individual must have at least one year of working experience within the industry. Once the individual has passed their exam JA will offer documentation that can be shown to employers and customers in order to advertise their expertise. Jewelry professionals who work in sales or management will be required to apply for re-certification once every five years.
Specialties Within the Field
There are several different career routes that individuals can take upon graduating from a jewelry design degree program, including:
Jewelry Designer: True to the sound of the title jewelry designers design jewelry pieces. Jewelry designers can design things as simple as costume jewelry or as ornate as fine jewelry typical for engagements and high end events such as the red carpet. They may work as freelancers and work with private clients, start their own jewelry line, or work for other jewelry companies.
Jewelry Repairer: These industry professionals specialize in the area of repair. They can repair and replace clasps, lost diamonds, and resize jewelry pieces such as rings and watches. This area of specialty requires that individuals have a great understanding of repair techniques and an attention to detail.
Jewelry Appraiser: Jewelry appraisers work to examine jewelry pieces and their elements such as gold and diamonds to determine their value. They must be experts in the area of precious metals and stones in order to determine such worth. Jewelry appraisers should also have deep knowledge of history and the significance that an older piece of jewelry could have in today's market.
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