Will an HND help me find work in jewellery?

Laura will be starting an HND soon and wonders what her prospects will be.

I am 33 years old, from Birmingham, and considering a career in jewellery. I’m passionate about making, drawing and design, and about making jewellery at home. I am looking to change my career.

I currently work for the NHS, and though it’s well-paid and secure, it’s not where my head and heart is. I have a place at uni to do an HND in Jewellery and Silversmithing, starting September 2014, and I’m really excited.

But what would the starting salary of a graduate jeweller be, and are there really jobs out there? Permanent employment? I really want to work for myself, but would take on any opportunity to develop skills and experience.

— Laura


Expert answers

Jessica Rose's reply:

Hi Laura,

Congratulations for making the decision to pursue your jewellery dream.

A lot of the people we work with at London Jewellery School want, like you, to run their own jewellery business and one of the things we say they need to think about early on is what sort of business that will be and trying to get the right experience for that.

At the moment you say you are interested in making and design,so is your long term goal to be a designer-maker? If so you need to think about the types of jewellery you will want to make and look at other designer-makers to see what similar types of jewellery sell for, and where they are available. This will give you an idea of what you might earn from your jewellery, and also give you an idea of whether your business will be viable for you.

 

Running your own jewellery business will also require you to have retail and finance skills, so don’t be afraid of getting non-making experience in the jewellery sector as well as developing your technical skills. 

You may find that you are more interested in designing pieces and others making them. This could be because you end up working for a high street company which sells its own fashion jewellery range (and therefore the designs need to be mass produced) or because your own designs are too intricate for you to produce by yourself and still have time to design, promote, sell, etc.

Because you are already enrolled in a course, you have a great opportunity to get support to decide about your jewellery future and to build contacts to get work experience. Take every opportunity to do this and get work experience with jewellers to help you decide on what you are going to do when you finish.


Simon Rainer's reply:

Hi Laura,

Firstly well done for choosing jewellery as your new career path!

As I assume that your HND is a part time 2 year course you do have plenty of time to explore the opportunities available to you.

1. You can consider setting up your own business, which will need you to decide on whether you want  to supply directly to the consumer, the trade or both. Any of these options will need careful consideration to ensure that you have a viable business plan and good cash flow forecasting. From this you will then be able to understand how much you need to sell and how much profit you need to make in order for you to earn your required income.

2. You can seek employment with a jewellery company. You are fortunate that you are close to the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, so start researching which companies you want to work for. Of importance for you to consider is what you can offer your potential employer. At present people possessing skills and knowledge with CAD/CAM and rapid prototyping are those most sought after - new technology is something that you need to keep abreast of as unfortunately this is surpassing the demand for the more traditional skills. With regard to salary, I suggest that you start looking at the numerous generic job sites and create a search filter appropriate for the type of role that you may be looking for.


Harriet Kelsall's reply:

​Hi Laura,

Firstly remember that although you will be new to the jewellery industry you will have maturity and a lot of experience and skills that you have developed in your professional career to date and with the NHS.  So remember to value those skills - employers will value these skills and they will make you stand out over other new graduates.  They may make it easier for you to “get your foot in the door” of a jewellery company too.  You could also use this to get relevant employment in your holidays for example.

Secondly the more relevant experience you can gain the better.  If you can offer yourself free or cheaply to a good jewellery company (eg for work experience on Saturdays) you will learn loads and have something great on your CV even if you mainly just observe and gain confidence whilst you are there.

Thirdly - like all creative industries if can seem hard to find a first job as a graduate but there are many jobs out there for those who think creatively in how they pursue their ideal role.  For example some jewellers are too busy to advertise their positions.  Sometimes you might need to do something else within a company to get gradually more involved with the design team.  There is always a way to get that role that you want if you want it enough!

 

Good luck and enjoy your course - it sounds great!

 

Harriet


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