Jewelry design is a highly specialized field that requires an eye for beauty, an understanding of materials, mechanical and mathematical skills, CAD training and dexterity. Those who excel in this type of work can become successful designers for a variety of companies, including fashion and fine jewelry makers. Jewelry designers are often self-employed, though some may work in a retail or repair shop or even for a jewelry manufacturing company. They often work in a workshop with their own equipment, such as torches and lasers, but also use a computer to create initial designs of new pieces.
The first step in jewelry design is inspiration. Some jewelry designers follow market and fashion trends by elaborating popular themes. Others take a more free spirited approach to design by letting the gems and materials dictate their creations. This open-ended approach is especially important when working with asymmetrical gemstones or unfinished metal.
Once an idea for a piece of jewelry is finalized, the designer uses a computer program to sketch or render the concept. Some software packages, such as Jewelry CAD Dream, are designed specifically for the jewelry-making industry. The program allows users to manipulate 3-D images to create accurate models of a potential piece of jewelry. Other programs, such as Blender, are a more general application that can be used for jewelry design. There is also an add-on for Blender called JewelCraft that is designed to provide tools specific to the jewelry-making industry.
A few important skills are necessary for successful jewelry designers, including a good fashion and artistic sense, manual dexterity, the ability to visualize a finished product, CAD training and skills, steady hands, and a clear vision. There is little room for error when creating a piece of jewelry that can be worth thousands of dollars. The designer must make sure that each piece of jewelry will support itself, maintain its shape and structure, and be visually appealing to the consumer.
In order to connect with customers and sell their products, jewelry designers must create an emotional connection. This can be done by offering sentimental value in their designs, such as religious-themed jewelry or incorporating a personal touch to the piece. Examples include stamping a customer’s name or initials into the jewelry, adding photos to lockets, or using birthstones and astrological themes to add significance to a piece of jewelry.
Another way to set yourself apart from your competition is by telling a story about your process. Many successful jewelry designers share the story of how they started their business, such as by pitching their products to small boutiques or launching their brand from their kitchen table. This provides consumers with a more personal experience and can lead to long-term customer relationships. It can also give the consumer an insight into the maker’s personality and values, which helps build an emotional connection to the brand. In addition, using eco-friendly materials is a great way to distinguish your business and help the environment.