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Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design, manufacture, and sell jewelry. They also adjust, repair, and appraise gems and jewelry. Show Details

Duties

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers typically do the following:

  • Examine and grade diamonds and other gems
  • Create jewelry from gold, silver, and precious gemstones
  • Shape metal to hold the gems when making individual pieces
  • Make a model with carved wax (a mold) or with computers, and then make (cast) pieces with the model
  • Solder pieces together and insert stones
  • Smooth joints and rough spots and polish smoothed areas
  • Inspect finished products to ensure proper gem spacing and metal shine
  • Repair jewelry by replacing broken clasps, enlarging or reducing ring sizes, resetting stones, or soldering pieces together

New technology is helping to produce high-quality jewelry at a reduced cost and in less time. For example, lasers are often used for cutting and improving the quality of stones, for intricate engraving or design work, and for inscribing personal messages or identification on jewelry. Jewelers also use lasers to weld metals together with no seams or blemishes, improving the quality and appearance of jewelry.

Some manufacturing firms use computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) to make product design easier and to automate some steps. With CAD, jewelers can create a model of a piece of jewelry on the computer and then see the effect of changing different aspects—the design, the stone, the setting—before cutting a stone or taking other costly steps. With CAM, they then create a mold of the piece, which makes producing many copies easy.

Individual jewelers also use CAD software to design custom jewelry. They let the customer review the design on the computer and see the effect of changes so the customer is satisfied before committing to the expense of a customized piece of jewelry.

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers usually specialize:

Precious metal workers expertly manipulate gold, silver, and other metals.

Gemologists analyze, describe, and certify the quality and characteristics of gem stones. After using microscopes, computerized tools, and other grading instruments to examine gem stones or finished pieces of jewelry, they write reports certifying that the items are of a particular quality.

Jewelry appraisers carefully examine jewelry to determine its value and then write appraisal documents. They determine value by researching the jewelry market and by using reference books, auction catalogs, price lists, and the Internet. They may work for jewelry stores, appraisal firms, auction houses, pawnbrokers, or insurance companies. Many gemologists also become appraisers.

Bench jewelers usually work for jewelry retailers, doing tasks from simple jewelry cleaning and repair to making molds and pieces from scratch.

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