Jewellery is a demanding business because of all of the skills needed just to run a jewellery store. Fortunately much of the administrative, inventory management and accounting tasks that come with all retail businesses can be handled, in part, by good software systems and a part time book-keeper. Marketing and promotions can be handled by an outside company or even a hired employee. Potential employees with these skills are relatively easy to find.
There are two skill sets that separate true professionals from the rest of the crowd…craftsmanship and knowledge. We desperately need more people at the bench to do the hands-on work that is needed for a quality finished product and well trained gemmologists to deal with all of the issues involved in gemmological identification of treatments and synthetics. Unfortunately these are the hardest ones to fill. Young kids just aren’t into it unless someone can show them how much fun it can be.
GIA is taking a first step on fostering an awareness of gemstones and gemmology with their new GemKids program. It has an easy to navigate website that is both is educational and fun. There are downloadable workbooks and lesson notes for each of four lessons. Best of all… it’s FREE!
While GIA is helping to develop the scientists, we still need trained and practiced hands at the bench. There are schools that teach jewellery and watchmaking skills but it still requires years of practice under the eye of an experienced craftsman to hone those skills to a sharp edge. We need to start getting them interested while they are young.
Those of us that have been in this business long enough for the enthusiasm of our youth to transform into grey-headed, wisdom must give something back. We must pass our knowledge of old techniques and hard-earned experience on to the next generations. We owe it to our industry to insure the future by teaching the past.
Get active by doing jewellery-making demonstrations or teaching a class in schools, scout groups and rock clubs. Be available as a mentor to anyone interested in developing their skills, be ready to answer questions for those curious about gems and gemmology. And remember…kids have parents and parents buy jewellery. Being involved in your community always leads to new customers. It is a win-win!
Take an apprentice in your own shop, teach them your skills and let them earn a permanent position on your team. You’ll wind up with a loyal jeweller that knows your way of doing things. Again…win-win!
If each of us can just help even one person discover the love of studying gems and making jewellery, send one person down the path to being part of the industry or teach one person some a few old tricks, we can insure a future where jewellers can still work with their hands and gem dealers know and care about their products. Unless you really want a world of jewellery made by computer controlled robots.