The Jewelry Industry Needs Jewelers
An aging bench jeweler workforce and a dearth of young jewelry makers is occurring—just when customized jewelry and Made in USA products have grown in popularity. Many—even most—of the bench jewelry needs of consumers are best met locally. Whether the customer wants a brand new custom design or to have her jewelry repaired or cleaned, being able to give that jewelry to a local jewelry-making expert instills confidence and increases satisfaction.
Small manufacturers and jewelry designers discovered some time ago that the economics of producing jewelry overseas don't work well for boutique production shops, and they are frequently uncomfortable with the working conditions and ethical considerations of using foreign labor. If you are a jewelry designer producing in-house or looking to produce locally, you already know how difficult it can be to find skilled bench jewelers.
Let's Build a Farm System
The jewelry industry needs to rebuild its farm system for jewelry makers and bench jewelers—just as baseball uses its farm system to maintain a deep bench of talented players. As Branch Rickey, the genius who developed the farm system often said: “Luck is the residue of design.” When Rickey signed baseball legend Jackie Robinson, he didn’t attribute that call to luck, but to finding, preparing, nurturing, and caring about players like Jackie.
The BEaJEWELER initiative plans to do the same for young men and women who have the aptitudes and motivation for jewelry making.
Who is Behind This Initiative?
The BEaJEWELER™ initiative was developed by the MJSA Education Foundation in partnership with the New Approach School for Jewelers in Franklin, Tennessee. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit subsidiary of MJSA, the association for professional jewelry makers and designers, and as such it is ideally suited to sustain the BEaJEWELER™ program. In fact, its bylaws expressly state that "the Foundation is constituted to develop educational programs to attract new employees to the jewelry manufacturing industry."
In addition, MJSA is the only jewelry industry association expressly serving the needs of jewelry makers and jewelry manufacturers. While other associations serve consumer marketing, sales, reputational, legal, networking, and security needs of retailers, gem dealers, and others, MJSA serves a different purpose. It delivers information about the very complex and intricate processes, tools, services, and equipment that jewelry makers must understand to actually make and produce jewelry.
What we are doing
- We've created an online presence through a website and a broad range of social media platforms designed to attract the attention of both young people considering career paths and older adults looking for a career change.
- We’re enlisting schools across the country that have jewelry programs, as well as jewelers who need skilled help and are willing to mentor suitable candidates, and providing them with the tools they'll need to find and inspire young people to consider a bench career.
- We're actively seeking the participation of jewelry industry members from every sector to participate in any way they can. Want a few ideas? Here you go!
- To promote the skills needed for a successful bench career, we're developing a host of online resources that talk about being a jeweler and how to make jewelry, including videos, images, articles, and testimonials; all shared on both the website and through social media channels. This will be active, daily outreach.
- We're providing a variety of marketing support and resources to assist jewelry programs interested in hosting BEaJEWELER™ Open House events as part of their recruitment efforts. These Open House events could present opportunities to see live demonstrations of bench work, meet instructors and professional jewelers, and learn about the school's resources.
- We are collaborating with jewelry programs to create a hands-on, 1-day, BEaJEWELER™ curriculum that any jewelry program could offer (free of royalties or fees for the source material, and ideally free to candidates other than costs of materials) to allow prospects within their local communities to try out a day of jewelry making. These one-day sessions will help potential students assess their interest and aptitudes and ideally will increase enrollment numbers.
- Finally, we're connecting prospects back to jeweler-mentors, to available apprenticeships, or to the many jewelry making schools around the U.S., where they can get the formal training and practice they need to succeed—and hit home runs for tomorrow’s jewelry stores, manufacturers, and designers.
We Need Your Help
As you can see, this is an ambitious undertaking. We invite and encourage the participation of jewelry industry members from every discipline to help us achieve these goals; goals which we must achieve in order for the industry to continue to attract new talent.