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How to Become a Jeweler: A Simple Guide to Success

Paolo Costagli How to Become a Jeweler

 

Table of Contents

 

As in every other profession, you must have a passion for your work. To become a successful jeweler, you have to feel a deep love for gemstones, for gold jewelry, and feel the call inside you.  This will drive you during the various challenging moments of creating a career from zero, like in my case.
I am, in fact, one of the few jewelry designers that was not born into a family of jewelers. I came to New York with no connections, no community and no initial capital.  All I had when I arrived in New York was enormous enthusiasm, excitement, and curiosity for colored gemstones. I was thirsty to learn everything about jewelry design, jewelry making and of course selling jewelry.
I think that enthusiasm and curiosity, mixed with a sense of adventure, helped me a lot at the very beginning when I was alone with no experience.
Having limited resources could be viewed as a setback, but it also can be a great advantage. It forces you to carefully invest every dollar as wisely and carefully as possible, limiting your mistakes and learning very well from them.

 

 

CHAPTER 1: BECOME A GRADUATE GEMOLOGIST, TO DEEPLY UNDERSTAND PRECIOUS STONES

As part of the process of how to become a jeweler, I recommend to get a Graduate Gemologist degree from G.I.A. . This is important because it will give you a strong basic knowledge of any gemstone that you will use as a distinctive feature in addition to your own unique designs.

 

Paolo Costagli GIA

Becoming a Graduate Gemologist will also serve you during buying trips in the country of origins, when it is not uncommon to find simulants mixed in parcel of colored stones.

Moreover, it will give authority when you will need to explain the detailed properties of a gemstones when selling to the final client, who will trust your expertise.

The G.G. course will also give you the opportunity to forge friendships that could eventually develop into a network of fellow members of the trade that you could do business with years later on during your career.

 

 

CHAPTER 2: STUDY THE MASTERS’ TO UNDERSTAND WHAT MAKES FINE JEWELRY

A very important step in becoming a fine jeweler is to learn the details of the quality of the workmanship used from the 20’s to the 50’s by American and French famous jewelry houses. Studying the construction of signed jewelry, such as observing the back part of every single signed jewel that you can get your hands on, the shape of the holes, the smoothness of the surfaces, the cleanliness of lines, the absence of metal to the limit, the softness of the hinges, the comfort of the fit, all will give you the benchmarks for constructing your own jewelry collection. It will also be an important selling point when you will be approaching historical retailers around the world.

Paolo Costagli Inspecting Gemstones

Retailers of that caliber have a deep knowledge of jewelry and will compare the quality of your product to the quality of renowned famous jewelry houses, inspecting the details that I mentioned above carefully, often times with a microscope.

The best way to study these details is to follow the major auction houses.  Christie’s  and  Sotheby’s

have very knowledgeable teams who are approachable, kind, and ready to answer any questions with the highest degree of integrity and professionalism. Following the auction houses will also help you dramatically in understanding current prices of various colored gemstones, from the rarest to the more common, and gold jewelry itself.

 

 

CHAPTER 3: GET TO THE CUTTING EDGE OF THE INDUSTRY BY PARTICIPATING IN GEM AND JEWELRY SHOWS

When becoming a jeweler, it is incredibly important to participate at least two shows within the jewelry trade, such as the GJX and the AGTA in Tucson every February and the JCK in Las Vegas. At these jewelry shows, you will have the opportunity to look at a humongous variety of gemstones, asking as many questions as you possibly can to the dealers who are, generally, very knowledgeable, and also to understand the latest trends in jewelry design. The knowledge gained at one of these jewelry shows can help you adjust your style accordingly without, of course, copying anybody.

Paolo Costagli Gemstone Shopping

 

Jewelry shows are also important for forging personal relationships with dealers who can support your business. You will use this network in cases when you are looking for a gemstone that is not in your current inventory. These kind of knowledgeable people can also give you valuable information regarding country of origin, latest treatments, and current market price fluctuations.

 

 

CHAPTER 4: CREATE A COHESIVE COLLECTION TO PRESENT TO RETAILERS

Once you have found your own inspirations and your own unique, cohesive style, it is important to start organizing the individual jewelry categories.

In my personal experience a brand new collection should be made initially of the following items:

  • 4 necklaces
  • 10 pairs of earrings
  • 5 rings
  • 2 bracelets
  • 2 bangles

This configuration would be sufficient to display a ‘two pad’ cohesive presentation that can be offered to any potential retail and will project a solid idea of what the collection is about to the final private client.

Paolo Costagli Showcases

 

CHAPTER 5: ASSIGN CORRECT RETAIL PRICES THAT MAKE SENSE IN THE SPECIFIC MARKET YOU ARE TARGETING.

While working on the categories for the collection, you need to research the retail prices of other comparable silhouettes within your target market in order to position you own retail prices correctly.  One of the mistakes that I did at the beginning of my career was not to look around and see what prices other brand were using for a jewel comparable to mine.

From these retail prices you should be able to deduct your target costs, which you will use to get quotes from different manufacturers.

Sales associates of retail stores, when approached correctly by mentioning that you are not a client, but you are learning how to become a jeweler, are always willing to help and answer questions in a very friendly way. This is my personal experience: just remember not to pretend to be a client, as the sales associates are working hard and it would not be fair to them if you pretend otherwise.

 

CHAPTER 6: FIND A REASONABLE MANUFACTURER TO SUPPORT YOUR PRODUCTION

From my experience of becoming a jeweler, it is important to find a good manufacturer that is available and excited to work with on new projects, with the understanding that he/she will have to support you with quick alterations at any given moment. Quick alterations are one of the fundamental keys of success when working with historical retailers.

No matter how trustworthy you feel a manufacturer is, do not forget to have them sign a simple, but clear, non-disclosure agreement (NDA). With the signed NDA, they commit not disclose information regarding your designs to third parties.

Paolo Costagli Production of Jewels

 

CHAPTER 7: GET THE COLLECTION PHOTOGRAPHED BY A PROFESSIONAL TO GET MORE SALES

In our digital era, good, if not excellent, pictures of a jewelry collection are becoming a fundamental tool for various reasons: for insurance purposes it is necessary to photograph every jewel as it would be identified in a much easier way in case of theft;  sales associates in retail stores sell the jewelry they have available by sending pictures to their clients half away across the world on a continuous basis;  clients visiting your website expect to be able to see various views of the product you present in order to trust you enough to purchase it.

Paolo Costagli Photo Shoot

I consider professional pictures as a fundamental investment and a wonderful selling tool. In particular, I like to shoot the product from two different views, taking an extra picture on a model to show the product’s actual scale, sometimes even worn en suit with other jewels in the collection.

Paolo Costagli Photos

 

CHAPTER 8: CREATE A LIST OF RETAILERS TO FEATURE YOUR COLLECTION

Creating a list of retailers to feature your collection is another fundamental step to becoming a jeweler. Once your unique jewelry collection is in place and photographed, you have to create a wish list of prestigious retail stores that want showcase it: this could be difficult at times because probably every other jeweler wants to be in the same retailers you want to be in.

I remember clearly that it took me five years and 4 very detailed interviews to get in the one of the most prestigious jewelry store in the United States. It takes a lot of perseverance and determination to continue knocking at the same doors that seem inexpugnable: we just have to remember that it is never personal and our consistency, our effort, to better our jewelry design will be recognized for sure. In fact, one day I got a phone call from that same buyer saying: “Congratulations, you are in”.

Paolo Costagli Retailers

 

CHAPTER 9: INVEST IN A GOOD WEBSITE WITH A GENEROUS RETURN POLICY TO SELL JEWELRY TO THE WORLD

Never like today, having a good website is fundamental to become a jeweler. It is a necessary investment, a real presentation of your product to the world.

My team and I spent countless hours building our website and tailoring it precisely to the image we want to project to our jewelry clients.

In my case, I think of our website as our store front: therefore, my team and I continuously update it with new pictures, new content, new ways to welcome our visitors. We work to improve the user experience of our site, by making it easier to navigate and merchandising the products in a concise manner. We also work to make our clients more comfortable, by being as transparent as possible and implementing a generous return policy.

Paolo Costagli Website

 

"We strive to provide our valued clients with an effortless experience when purchasing our fine jewelry online. We offer free shipping and free returns. Our goal is for you to be completed satisfied with your purchase from the Paolo Costagli collection." - Paolocostagli.com return policy

One of the reason we are successful in selling jewelry online and offline is because we firmly believe it is important to offer a very comprehensive return policy to the client. Clients who trust us enough to share their most sensitive information and in moments that celebrate important occasions in their life: what more precious things could there be?

 

CHAPTER 10: FINAL THOUGHTS

In this article I wanted to share some of the things that helped me on how to become a jeweler. For sure there are some other aspects that might need to be discussed to create a successful career in our industry, but in particular I found that being consistent, excited, curious and embracing the changes with open heart are the most influential things that brought me to where I am right now. If I had to leave you with one final piece of advice, it would be to never fear the changes and never stop learning.


 

 

 

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