Second-year Jewelry Making & Repair student Willow Coronella JM '20 gave us an in-depth tour of the bench she's set up for work from home after our building closed. To keep living spaces safe, she and her classmates have modified the types of projects they're doing – but they've still found plenty to do.
Jewelry Making & Repair
The two-year, comprehensive Jewelry Making & Repair program prepares students to become professionals in the industry. The program attracts students from around the world who share a love of materials, artistic expression, and working with their hands to make jewelry that transcends time.
ANN CAHOON JM ’02Ann has a BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry and Ceramics from the Maine College of Art and is a graduate of NBSS and the Department Head. She was a finalist in the gold and platinum category of the 2010 Saul Bell Awards. She works on one-of-a-kind and limited production jewelry as a principal goldsmith and designer at Flying Marquis Studio in Leominster, MA. Ann also writes, lectures, and judges for the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA) and Jewelry Artist. She is the technical co-editor of the MJSA book Secret Shop Weapons, and is featured in an instructional DVD produced by Lapidary Journal.
- Students are admitted in September and February.
- The maximum enrollment is 13 students.
- Classes meet from 8:00 am - 3:00 pm, Monday - Friday, September through May.
- The program length is two, nine-month academic years (72 weeks or 2340 class hours*).
- Students who complete the program receive a Diploma of Jewelry Making & Repair.
* Class hours equals clock hours.
Tuition & Costs
- September 2020-July 2021 tuition is $25,000 per year totaling $50,000*, with the option of making 18 monthly payments of $2,778.
- The estimated cost of hand tools is $1,900.
- The estimated cost of materials is $3,000.
- Palladium and platinum provided by the department's Metals Library.
* North Bennet Street School reserves the right to increase tuition in the second and subsequent years of a course. If the school does increase tuition for a course in subsequent years, that increase will not exceed 7.5% of the previous year’s tuition. Should the school exercise its right to increase tuition, the school must give the student a minimum of ninety (90) days written notice prior to the effective date of the increase and a new enrollment agreement will be executed.
Graduates of the Jewelry Making & Repair program work as bench jewelers and designers for companies of all sizes, and are owners of custom jewelry shops.
Our graduates have held jobs such as:
- Fashion jewelry designers
- Fine jewelry designers
- Design Directors for jewelry manufacturers
- Retail jewelry store owners
- Studio and gallery owners
- Hand Engravers
- Stone setters
- Gold buyers
According to the Occupational Information Network (O*Net), job titles for jewelry makers include:
- Precious metal workers: Silversmith, Caster, Goldsmith, Artist, Fabricator, Pewterer, Bench Mechanic, Restoration Silversmith, Platinum Smith,
- Jewelers: Bench Jeweler, Jeweler, Goldsmith, Earrings Fabricator, Gemologist
- Gem and Diamond Workers: Gemologist, Diamond Cutter, Lapidarist, Diamond Setter, Quality Control Specialist, Diamond Picker, Facetor, Diamond Grader, Diamond Polisher, Diamond Sawer
The U.S. Department of Labor uses the classification of “Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers,” which includes bench jewelers, mold and model makers, assemblers, engravers, polishers, gemologists, laboratory graders, and jewelry appraisers. Although jewelry stores and repair shops are found in every city and many small towns, most jobs are in larger metropolitan areas.
Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers held about 39,800 jobs in 2014.
- 27% worked in retail clothing and accessory stores
- 16% worked in jewelry manufacturing
- 10% worked with merchant wholesalers
Employment for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers is expected to decline by 11% in the 2014-24 decade. Most opportunities will be for bench jewelers who have design and repair training. Additionally, the need for skilled jewelers will rise as the older generation retires.
SALARY AND WAGE DATA
Most jewelers begin with a base salary, then begin charging per piece as they become more skilled. Jewelers who work in retail stores may earn a commission for each piece of jewelry they sell. Many jewelers also get employee benefits, including reimbursement for work-related courses and discounts on jewelry purchases.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimated the average annual salary for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers as $37,060 in 2015. Average hourly wages were $17.82.
According to Payscale, the median annual salary for jewelers was $40,309 in 2016. The median hourly wage was $15. Wages for more specific positions are as follows:
- Precious stone and metal workers - Median annual salary: $46,996 | Median hourly wage: $15
- Jewelry designers – Median annual salary: $50,081 | Median hourly wage: $19
Dissatisfied with sitting at a computer working on logistics, and recalling with fondness her experience making art with her hands, Willow applied to NBSS on something of a whim. Now, almost two years later, she's nearly ready to graduate from the Jewelry Making & Repair program with a full set of skills for her new career. In this interview soon after our building closed in mid-March, we talk about her work, and how she's enthusiastic about not only making, but academia and research too.
The intersection of technology and craft is fraught with misunderstanding, especially in an age of increasing automation. At NBSS though, the Jewelry Making & Repair program is proof that embracing visionary technology can enhance traditional handwork without replacing it. Under the leadership of Department Head Ann Cahoon JM '02, the program has acquired five new high-precision microscopes that allow students to more easily work on the complex designs that have become common in contemporary jewelry.
Current Jewelry Making & Repair student Kailey Maraglia JM '21 left a corporate apprenticeship to pursue jewelry making training at NBSS. Though working quickly had been highly valued at her previous job, her first few days in the JM program felt like a dramatic slam on the brakes and a parallel to her time in the Marine Corps. Read how through making a twisted wire ring, Kailey learned "that slowing down was the only way I could really pay attention to the work my hands were doing."