If you love fashion, jewelry, and design, we reckon you may have spent a lot of time in your childhood and adulthood coming up with sketches and designing different types of jewelry that you may or may not have sold or gifted your friends and family.
Unfortunately, these little moves may not be enough for you to become a jewelry designer that can be hired by the likes of Tiffany or any other big jewelry brand.
The reason for this is that it takes so much more than a love for fashion or a childhood dream. You have to put in the work, your talents have to come to the table, and you also need to invest in and grow your skills in design.
If you are confused, this is a guide on everything you need to know about becoming the best jewelry designer working with designers in companies like Tiffany.
How to become a jewelry designer for Tiffany
First, who is a jewelry designer?
Well, a jewelry designer can be defined as someone who plans and creates patterns for necklaces, rings, bracelets, and other accessories.
The jewelry designer creates product prototypes and tests the products for comfort, durability, and style.
With this in mind, a jewelry designer is a professional who works in jewelry stores, manufacturing facilities, design studios or workshops, and jewelry repair shops.
What do jewelry designers do?
As a jewelry designer, your work and responsibilities vary depending on the place you work and the jewelry’s specifications.
Since some customers require custom jewelry designs, a jewelry designer may be tasked with working on the custom pieces.
Some jewelry designers also prefer specific prototypes, which they use as guides for their next craft models, often done using wax molds.
Generally, however, the roles of a jewelry designer will include, but may not be limited to:
- Drafting of jewelry designs, either on computer software or on paper
- Jewelry designers also assess and select the quality of the gemstones that are used for the jewelry. Often, the gemstones incorporated into the jewelry include emeralds, diamonds, and rubies.
- The jewelry designers are also tasked with the evaluation of wax models for the jewelry pieces to be designed, and they are also tasked with improving the quality and features of the wax models.
- Jewelry designers also cast new jewelry in metal using wax molds and models, which guides the whole jewelry creation process.
- As mentioned above, jewelry designers also craft custom jewelry designers.
- Designers of jewelry also polish the smooth metals to ensure comfort to the wearers. They also reshape metals, mount gems, and set gemstones on the jewelry while ensuring secure attachments.
- Lastly, the jewelry designers clean jewelry before its distribution, and they do this using chemicals. They also use polishing wheels to clean the jewelry.
For jewelry designers working in small companies and jewelry stores, the designers are often tasked with creating finished jewelry products. But for larger companies, the jewelry designers may work in specific departments.
In other cases, the designers may take on managerial positions like overseeing jewelry production or ensuring the jewelry has perfect finishes.
But to be able to do any of the above, you’d have to go to school and attain an education in jewelry design.
As an inspiring jewelry designer that may end up working for Tiffany, you may have to consider the following learning paths to find the tools of the trade that you need.
2. Gain a bachelor’s or Associate Degree
As an aspiring jewelry designer, the most important thing to do is get an education in jewelry design. You can take a degree in jewelry design, gemology, accessories design, and any other relevant subject related to jewelry.
So, while you could have the talent and eye for design, you need to earn a formal education for a chance at a successful career. Some of the benefits that come from getting an associate’s or bachelor’s degree include:
- The capacity to easily and actively connect to other professionals in the jewelry industry
- The right kind of education means that you will learn how to use advanced software and equipment technologies to make it possible for you to create the best jewelry designs.
- A degree also means you will easily apply to a position in big jewelry manufacturers, design studios, and jewelry companies.
- A degree also gives you the skills to move up in leadership roles in the jewelry industry.
- Finally, with the right knowledge, you can easily start a career in the business or even set up your own jewelry-making business.
To gain these skills, we recommend enrolling in a well-respected vocational school, community college, or even a university that is accredited by an international or national organization like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
3. Learn Some Essential Jewelry Design Skills
For a successful career in jewelry design, you should also gain skills in jewelry design. To do this, you must prepare and gain jewelry design knowledge.
You can do this through online courses and workshops, and you may also enroll in specific professional classes while taking your degree.
Some of the important courses you should specialize in include wax carving, caring for metals, reshaping and manipulating metals, cutting and setting gems, and assessing jewelry value and the value of the stones on the jewelry. Other specialties include:
- Metal engraving
- Making molds
- Repairing findings like fasteners, hooks, and clasps
- Graphic design, 3D printing, and use of high-tech equipment
- Welding and soldering
- How to use microscopes and specialized lenses used in gem work
- Marketing products and business management
Now that we have covered the basics, here are the tips for becoming a jewelry designer.
4. Gain industry expertise
You need to learn a lot and make huge investments in jewelry design to become successful.
Some of the important industry skills and experience you need to be a great jewelry designer include honing in on your sales skills because you need to be able to sell the jewelry you make or the jewelry made by the company you will be working for.
You also need the best production skills, including gem setting, design for jewelry manufacturing and prototype testing, carving of wax models, and making the finishing touches for the jewelry. You must also gain more experience in metal care and jewelry store administration.
5. Create a professional portfolio
To become a jewelry designer and be hired by any company worth its salt, let alone Tiffany, you must create a portfolio. All employers will request a portfolio alongside the resume, so you should compile your portfolio early on.
It is recommended that you start compiling your portfolio while still in school, during your internship, and also during your first job.
Also, remember to incorporate only your best work in the portfolio and ensure that you incorporate all the important projects throughout your career.
Your portfolio must have the following things:
- It should have professional photos with a dark, solid background
- The portfolio should have varied designs expressing your artistic range in the best way possible.
- It also needs interesting and accurate descriptions of all the jewelry designs in your portfolio to reflect your personal brand and design style.
- Also, settle on curated jewelry selections, with a focus on the quality of the selections over quantity.
- You also need to include physical and virtual versions of the submitted designs.
6. Keep learning
To work with brands like Tiffany, you must be ready to put in all the work, and in most cases, this means investing in and furthering your education.
There are important specialty areas of jewelry design that often call for additional training. These include specialties like Gemology, jewelry appraisal, and metalworking.
7. Build a professional network
Even with the right education and professional skills, you will only climb up the professional ladder if you have a good professional network.
This is important in jewelry design because jewelry design is essentially a cooperative profession.
The right networks will teach more about the jewelry industry trends, and you will get the best mentorship to accelerate your career.
And though it may be hard at first, you can build a professional network by maintaining a nice, positive relationship with your advisers and professors.
You could also ask your teachers to introduce you to industry experts, start attending conferences, workshops, networking, and fashion events, and reach out to professionals through social media or email.
Also, ask the local jewelry stores for guidance and ideas on sourcing jewelry pieces and which designers to work with.
8. Work on your soft skills
You also need to hone in on your creativity and learn other skills like being attentive to details, problem-solving, and excellent communication, and you should also be technologically adept.
To become the best fine jewelry designer and maybe work for Tiffany or run the most successful jewelry design companies, you have to be strategic and smart, and you also have to be very hardworking.
Don’t forget that you must be open to learning every step of the way. Also, work on your soft and professional skills for professional success.
Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.