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Jewelry Arts


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What to Expect

Computer training is becoming important for students in metalworking and jewelry-making programs. That's because programs like CAD (computer-aided design) are in widespread use.

"CAD gave me options to create any form quickly, and delete and try again if I wished," says Kim Fraczek. She is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. "It also helped me understand 3D space on a higher level."

Melanie Guthmiller is a graduate of the California Institute of Jewelry Training (CIJT). CIJT has several classes designed to get students up to speed in the craft of making jewelry. The school does not offer degrees or diplomas (as fine art programs at universities do), but it provides basic hands-on training.

Each module of training the school offers is seven weeks long. There are very few lectures. Almost everything is shown by demonstration to the students.

Guthmiller prefers this kind of approach.

"I wanted to have fun," she says. "I like hands-on activities as far as being able to see that I've produced something instead of just sitting at a desk and working with paper."

Requirements for getting into the school are fairly lax. Advisors do recommend that you finish high school. But you don't have to be an artist or even have a background in art. In fact, there's no guarantee that having that kind of background will make you a better jeweler.

"It just depends on what aspect you want to approach designing a piece of jewelry," Guthmiller says.

"You can approach it a few different ways. You can pick up a wax and just start carving and do something that's three-dimensional." Guthmiller says you can also begin your design through a sketch on the computer.

A lot of people who go through jewelry-making training want to open up a shop afterward, Guthmiller says. In order to prepare their students for that, CIJT offers a range of business classes. They include general sales, customer service, retail, management and appraisal.

Another element of the school that Guthmiller says is a benefit is the small classes and the willingness of students of greater ability to work with the newly enrolled. At CIJT, there are about 25 to 30 students in each classroom.

The size of the class is important for Fraczek, too.

"We sketch out designs and try them out. We have a group critique of our ideas before we begin any project. When we start working, we have one-on-one help with the teacher."


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