So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer...

Nov 10, 2015

Creating jewelry, whether for a business or just for fun, can be a rewarding and exciting experience. However, if you’ve ever considered designing your own jewelry, you may have hit a roadblock on how to get started.

Luckily, there are many paths that can lead toward a career (or hobby) in jewelry design. They range from formal education to self-teaching, from universities to public library books. Fortunately, all of these different roads can result in having fun while learning, and if you decide to go into business for yourself you may even make a profit!

A number of successful jewelry designers do have formal training and university degrees in fields such as Metalsmithing, Studio Arts, and Jewelry Design. Some even hold Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in these or related fields.

If you’re interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree or MFA in a jewelry-design or metals-related fields, there are many high-quality programs to which you can apply. According to Study.com, the top three schools for jewelry design are:

  1. The University of Kansas: Offers a BFA in Metalsmithing/Jewelry
  2. Rochester Institute of Technology: Offers both a BFA and an MFA in Metals and Jewelry Design
  3. San Diego State University: Art program offers metalsmithing/jewelry as an area of emphasis
Kyle Anne Judson of KyleAnneMetals studied jewelry design at SCAD

Kyle Anne Judson of KyleAnneMetals studied jewelry design at SCAD

Aran Galligan, designer of Aide-Mémoire Jewelry, holds an MFA in Metal from SUNY New Paltz

Other schools that offer art and jewelry design programs include SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design), Virginia Commonwealth University, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Indiana University at Bloomington, Temple University, FIT, and Colorado State University. If you plan on utilizing gemstones in your designs, you might also consider the programs offered by the  Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Michael Nguyen of Fire & Brilliance is a GIA Graduate Gemologist

Michael Nguyen of Fire & Brilliance is a GIA Graduate Gemologist

Of course, not all jewelry designers studied jewelry design! In fact, many majored in other fields, which later influenced their work with jewelry. Konstanze of Nodeform Design, for example, studied and worked in architecture before pursuing jewelry design. Her experience with architecture served as inspiration for her unique style of jewelry.

An architecture-inspired bridal set by Konstanze of Nodeform Design

An architecture-inspired bridal set by Konstanze of Nodeform Design

Sometimes, a hobby of designing jewelry becomes a full-time career. Jen Hollywood-Showell of J Hollywood Designs, for example, started out with a class at a local bead store. The designer behind Metalicious, Stephanie Maslow-Blackman, took her first metalsmithing class at her local art school after the pottery class she had wanted to take was cancelled.

Jen of J Hollywood Designs at work at her jeweler’s bench

Jen of J Hollywood Designs at work at her jeweler’s bench

Search for shops and art schools in your area that offer introductory classes in jewelry design, beading, or metalwork. Some big box craft stores like Michaels® and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft® offer jewelry making classes as well.

It’s also very possible to teach yourself jewelry-making! In fact, many people enjoy the adventure of learning a skill on their own. Go online, to the library, or to the craft store to pick up some supplies and instructions, and get to work on learning how to create jewelry!

Andrea of Andrea Bonelli Jewelry is a self-taught jewelry designer

Andrea of Andrea Bonelli Jewelry is a self-taught jewelry designer

Have you ever considered designing your own jewelry? Let us know in the comments section.

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