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- Calculate your take home pay
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- Setting up as a Sole Trader
Jewellery designers produce designs to meet the requirements of a client. They plan the design, pattern and materials of jewellery, silverware and any other types of decorative metalwork products – they can often physically make the pieces themselves too. They must be creative and artistic, have an understanding of materials such as metals and gemstones and have a great attention to detail.
A jewellery designer may perform the following tasks:
- Hold consultations with clients, discussing the range of options and ideas
- Sketch out ideas, sometimes using computer-aided design (CAD)
- Model making – making a decorative detail or object using moulds
- Mounting – handling, forming and drilling metal as well as making holes for selected gems
- Chasing – making a pattern on the surface of metal
- Engraving – cutting letters or patterns into metals, either by hand or computer-aided machines.
Most jewellery designers are self-employed as there is more freedom involved with the job. This means having commercial awareness and the ability to negotiate with buyers and suppliers. It is also vital to relate to clients in order to understand design requirements.
Qualifications to become a jewellery designer
There are no set requirements when trying start designing jewellery as a career; it is not a necessity to have qualifications, as experience and skills are a great deal more important.
However, any art and design degree, BTEC HND or foundation degree may benefit you. This could be in:
- Fashion design
- Textile design
- Fine art
- Jewellery design
- Jewellery and metal design.
If you choose not to take this route, then you would need to either find an apprenticeship or undertake on-the-job training. Other shorter and quicker, skill-based courses can also be useful and are available through most colleges and private providers (such as jewellery studios and workshops).
The benefits of freelancing a jewellery designer
There are many benefits to freelancing as a jewellery designer, for example, by freelancing for one or more clients at a time, you can often have more income than what you would expect from a full time salary. You can use our Freelancer Calculator to work out exactly how much you could potentially take home as a sole trader. There is also the fact that you will be your own boss, meaning flexible hours to suit yourself as well as the freedom to work when, where and for however long you like.
Finding work as a jewellery designer
A strong client base is vital for a freelancer when it comes to building and sustaining a good reputation. Joining a professional organisation, such as The Association for Contemporary Jewellery or British Jewellers' Association (BJA) is a brilliant way of both meeting and making contact with already established designers – therefore building useful contacts.
Self-promotion is a great way of getting your name out there – entering competitions, attending craft fairs and exhibitions can all help to attract new clients. Many freelancer jewellery designers can sell their products through craft fairs and retail outlets, or they work to commission.
Advertising your business either through a website, business cards and door-to-door flyers will all help toward building a wider range of clients.
Here are some more suggestions on how to market yourself:
- Set up a professional website. The website needs to be information rich about the services you offer, a price list and contact details. Using a website builder such as DIY Site Builder or Webs can make it both simple and quicker.
- Take advantage of social networking sites such as Twitter, Linked In and Facebook are both an effective and free way of advertising your business. For example, Linked In is designed specifically for businesses and professionals to create a network of co-workers and other associates. Also, be sure your business profile includes a link to your website.
- Give out business cards to friends and family. This way they can hand them out to their friends; knowing that they know you personally means they will have more trust in you and your business.
- Advertise your business through free directory websites such as BT Tradespace or Touch Local. This ensures many people actively looking for your trade can easily come across it.
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