Watch and Jewelrymaking

Watchmakers put together and repair clocks and watches, while jewelrymakers craft and fix rings, necklaces and other jewelry pieces according to their customers' needs. Keep reading to find out whether a career in watch and jewelrymaking might be right for you.

Is Watch and Jewelrymaking For Me?

Career Overview

If you're interested in a career that requires attention to detail, a steady hand and a bit of artistic flair, you may be fit for a career in watch and jewelrymaking. Jewelrymakers design, manufacture and repair rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and other jewelry pieces, while watchmakers (also called horologists) mostly give maintenance to the mechanisms of timepieces (clocks and watches).

Work in all fields of watch and jewelrymaking, including precious metal and stone work, is extremely hands-on. Professionals in this field typically use a variety of equipment and precision tools to cut, set, engrave or polish gems, diamonds, gold and other fine metals, or to disassemble and replace defective pieces. Watchmakers and jewelrymakers also repair pieces for their customers, which can include replacing broken clasps and bands, resetting stones, resizing rings and cleaning either the jewelry or the timepieces. If you choose jewelrymaking, and depending on the type of jeweler you are, part of your daily tasks may also include appraising jewelry for customers. Jewelry appraisers use different reference books and catalogs, as well as microscopes and other instruments to determine the value of a piece of jewelry. Many jewelry appraisers are also gemologists.

Employment Information

Aspiring jewelrymakers should expect to see keen job competition over the next several years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment in this field will decline by 10% over the 2012-2022 decade (www.bls.gov). This will be due in part to automation and the economic downturn. Meanwhile, the BLS expects little change in the watch repairing field, with a 2% increase projected. The BLS also reported that the average annual income for jewelers and precious metal and stone workers was $40,010 in May 2012, while watch repairers earned median wages of $35,460 during that same period.

How Can I Work in Watch and Jewelrymaking?

Training and Education

Traditionally, watchmakers and jewelrymakers have gained knowledge and skills in their field through on-the-job training, though some vocational and technical schools do offer courses and programs in jewelrymaking and watchmaking. As a jewelrymaking student, you may take courses such as jewelry forming, jewelry production, drawing and computer-aided design. On the other hand, coursework in watchmaking training programs usually focuses on micromechanics, timepiece service techniques and precision tools usage.

Depending on your specific career goals and interests, you may choose to earn a certificate in gemology. This type of program may include coursework in defining minerals and gemstones, classification and formation, physics of gemstones, optical qualities of gemstones, mining and distribution, colored stones, diamonds, pearls, crystal systems and appraisal theory.

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