An open letter to aspiring jewellery professionals

I’d like to offer few words of career advice to young people that are just entering the jewellery business. This industry has so many different career paths with plenty of nooks and crannies along the way that it can be overwhelming to try decide which path to take, or even where you want to go.

Learn what you can about as much as you can but strive to be the best at something. Be that person that everyone turns to within your particular specialty. Try to attend as many jewellery and gems shows as possible. Start making plans to go to Tucson; it is a wonderful educational opportunity. Seek out dealers that specialize in a single species or gems from a single location. They will be passionate about their area of expertise and are great sources of information. Handle as many stones as you can. Ask questions, lots of them.

Get as much schooling as possible and never stop learning. You can get a well-rounded body of knowledge from several online resources that have tons of information for free. But paper on the wall will greatly enhance your career. The best resources for education are GIA in the US and Gem-A in London. With both of them you can study at home. If you can afford the time and money to attend residence programs at GIA or Gem-A, do it. Or better yet, study in Bangkok at GIA or AIGS and be right at the heart of the coloured stone industry. The cost of living in Bangkok is so much lower than in Carlsbad or London that it will more than offset the travel expenses. The experience will be priceless.

If you enjoy working at the bench consider getting trained as a watchmaker. The best schools are in Switzerland. They are very expensive but earning the proper certifications for different fine watch brands will virtually guarantee a VERY high paying job, even at the start. Mechanical watches are increasingly popular but most of the good watchmakers are old and dying off. It is a wide open field and you would be in strong demand.

TRAVEL!! Travel far, travel wide. Go to sources, shows and markets. Visit factories and mines. Get out there and meet the world. My biggest regret is that I did not start going overseas until a few years ago. I did rack up over a million miles traveling in the US and Caribbean in the jewellery business but going overseas really opened my mind to a whole new world and a broad range of new opportunities.

Find your passion and LIVE IT! Let it guide you, don’t try to guide it. Follow it where ever it wants to take you. Don’t worry too much about money. Let your passion feed itself; you are just along for the ride. If your passion is well-fed, you will be fed along with it.

Your journey will be far more complex than can be mapped out in a single discussion, but hopefully this can help guide you in finding your own direction in the industry.

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