A jewellery designer designs pieces of jewellery. Some designers are jewellery makers as well, while others produce designs for others to make.
What do jewellery designers do?
Jewellery designers may produce designs for:
- mass-produced jewellery manufacturers
- small scale craft jewellery makers
- one-off bespoke pieces, often to commission.
A jewellery designer working for a manufacturing company is likely to be expected to:
- source ideas for seasonal collections
- create designs which reflect the current brand or create new brands
- meet the company’s requirements in terms of style and quality.
They may also:
- source materials such as gems, metals and other components
- produce technical specifications for manufacturers
- create samples from their designs to show to customers
- travel overseas several times a year
- be expected to design other products, such as accessories.
What is the job like?
In some companies, designers are involved in managing all or part of the production process.
A commercial jewellery designer is likely to use CAD (computer-aided design). They may use other software packages, such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Some produce, and work from, hand-drawn designs.
Depending on the type of company, designers may meet suppliers and business customers. These can include jewellery wholesalers and retailers – for example, shops that might wish to stock the designer's work.
Some designers have contact with customers. Some jewellery manufacturers also have retail shops which employ designers. They work with customers to create individualised pieces of jewellery. They may create their own designs, to a customer’s specifications, or they may work from the company’s design catalogue.
Other jewellery designers are self-employed, working in their own studio, alone or with others. They are more likely to produce designs for small-scale production or for one-off bespoke designs. They may make the jewellery themselves, using other jewellery techniques such as stone setting or metalsmithing.
Customers may come to the studio to discuss designs.
How can I become a jewellery designer?
It is important to have creative flair.
If you work for a jewellery company you will need:
- good time management skills
- IT skills as well as drawing skills
- commercial awareness as well as design skills.
It's important to be a good communicator. You need to be able to describe your designs and get your ideas across to customers.
Employers may also expect you to have practical jewellery-making skills, so you can make samples of your designs.
It's important to be a good communicator. You need to be able to describe your designs and get your ideas across to customers, whether they are commercial manufacturers or buyers or members of the public.
If you are self-employed, you need business skills so you can market your goods and services, deal with finances and develop your business.
What qualifications and training do I need?
Most jewellery companies ask for a degree in jewellery design.
There is a range of courses available, including:
- Jewellery and Silversmithing at Plymouth College of Arts
- Jewellery and Silversmithing – Design for Industry at the School of Jewellery at Birmingham City University (there is also an HND)
- Jewellery Design and Technology at North Glasgow College
- 3D Design – Contemporary Jewellery and Fashion Accessories at Staffordshire University.
There are also courses in jewellery with metalworking and gold/silversmithing, which include jewellery design. You can use the UCAS website to search for courses.
Some jewellery designers take courses in art and design or design. They may also take courses in silversmithing, goldsmithing or other jewellery techniques, especially if they want to make jewellery as well as design it.
As a preparation for a degree, there are courses which may be useful, including:
- BTEC National Diploma in Design Crafts (Precious Metals and Gemstones)
- BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design Studies, including Silversmithing and Jewellery
- HND Jewellery Design and Production.
Apprenticeships are available through:
- the Goldsmiths Company which runs its own five-year apprenticeship scheme
- Holt’s Academy, which runs apprenticeships in jewellery manufacture at Levels 2, 3 and 4.
Each includes an element of jewellery design.
Some courses have entry requirements, such as two A levels (or equivalent) for degree courses. You will also need to show a portfolio of your work.
As well as English and maths, art and design or design and technology (resistant materials) are relevant subjects. Business studies or enterprise are useful if you want to run your own business.
How much can I earn?
Designing jewellery for a jewellery company, you could earn between £25,000 and £40,000 per year, depending on your experience.
As a self-employed jewellery designer, earnings vary a lot depending on how you develop your business. Craft work can be very competitive. Many people combine jewellery designing with jewellery making. Designers may do other paid work, especially while they are becoming established.