27 November 2012

Buyers must stay on top of the latest trends in jewellery. They choose what is sold in shops or online, often buying stock from designers.

Jewellery buyers select and develop the product ranges that are on sale in retail outlets or online. Keeping abreast of the latest jewellery
Jewellery buyers select and develop the product ranges that are on sale in retail outlets or online. Keeping abreast of the latest jewellery

What do buyers do? 

Jewellery buyers select and develop the product ranges that are on sale in retail outlets or online. Keeping abreast of the latest jewellery fashions is vital.

The job is fast-paced and usually involves travelling overseas to visit trade fairs and suppliers in countries such as Thailand.  

What is the job like?

As a buyer, your work will be very varied and will include:

  • building working relationships with suppliers and negotiating prices
  • forecasting future jewellery trends and analysing the buying patterns of customers
  • planning and building a product range within the buying cycle and calendar
  • working closely with other staff, including merchandisers, to ensure that supply meets customer demand
  • handling complex administrative procedures using IT systems
  • forecasting sales levels and making presentations about new ranges to senior colleagues.

How do I become a jewellery buyer?

Jewellery buying is an extremely competitive job, and previous retail experience is a big advantage. You could volunteer at your local charity shop, or look for work experience in a high street jewellery store.

Equally, a part-time job in a shop would provide valuable relevant experience. Many buyers have experience in other aspects of retail management before they progress to buying.

To be a buyer, you will need:

  • an outgoing and lively personality
  • stamina and the willingness to work long hours
  • the ability to cope well under pressure
  • to be highly organised and able to multi-task
  • good written and verbal communication skills, and a high level of numeracy

School subjects that are useful for buying are maths, English, business studies, languages and art.

Jewellery buying is an extremely competitive job, and previous retail experience is a big advantage.

Whilst you are still at school, develop your organisational skills. Get involved in as many extracurricular activities as you can. If your school has an Enterprise Day or any sort of Business Challenge activities, get involved. If not, you could suggest that you start something like this. 

Events like this will provide you with valuable experience in organising, prioritising, planning and managing others, which will help you whatever career you decide upon.

These will be especially useful skills for a career in buying, and also give you something extra to add to your UCAS personal statement if you apply for further study.

What training and qualifications do I need?

Most jewellery buyers have a degree.  Relevant subjects include retail management, fashion, jewellery, and business studies.

Some companies will train graduates with a degree in any subject. Degrees in languages are helpful, as buyers often travel overseas.  

It's not uncommon for graduates to start as a buyer’s assistant or in an administrative role, before gaining experience and being promoted to buyer. A general graduate retail management scheme would usually include experience of buying work.

The UCAS website will direct you to relevant degree courses. Search by subject, and then use the alphabetical course list to find Buying, Retail Management and Business Studies.

Course titles for related degrees include:

  • Fashion Buying with Marketing
  • Fashion Buying and Merchandising
  • Fashion Buying Management
  • Retail Management

These courses are geared towards the fashion industry in general rather than jewellery specifically. However, the knowledge and skills you will acquire will be highly relevant to the jewellery industry.

Many courses include a year’s placement in industry, and it may be possible to organise this within a jewellery company.

The entry requirements for these degree courses vary. Universities will ask you to have a certain number of UCAS tariff points, which equates to two or three A levels at particular grades, or equivalent.

Alternative entry qualifications include a BTEC National or Extended Diploma, where you may need a merit or distinction. You will normally also need GCSEs in English and maths at grade C or above.

Entry to these courses is competitive, so make sure that you write a strong UCAS personal statement. Aim to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your interest and experience in the retail sector.

BTEC Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and foundation degrees may also be available. For these, the entrance requirements are lower than those for degrees, usually one or two A levels or equivalent.

What can I earn?

A buying administrative assistant could earn in the region of £16,000 to £20,000 per year, while an assistant or junior buyer might earn between £20,000 and £28,000.

A buyer with some experience could earn between £30,000 and £50,000 per year.

Salaries for very experienced jewellery buyers can rise to around £60,000 - £70,000 per year.

Salaries will vary according to where you are based in the country and the type and size of company you are working for. Higher salaries are often paid to those working in London and the southeast.

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