What is a Bench Jeweler and How to Become one

How does Portland Jewelry Academy define a Bench Jeweler?

A Bench Jeweler is a title given by the jewelry industry to a professional who uses disciplined learned skills combined with creative artistic ability to create and repair beautiful, valuable, and functional objects for individual adornment. They are named after the specialized bench they work at.

The title is needed because the definition of what a jeweler is can vary. It can be someone who sells jewelry, works with gems, strings beads, or fashions rice crispy treats into fashionable earrings.

How did Bench Jewelers learn in the past?

Many bench jewelers learn the craft from family members passing the skill down from generation to generation. In the past, the best bench jewelers came from formal apprenticeship programs usually from union or trade organizations. The unions for jewelers, and the apprenticeships that they oversaw, have been gone for a generation. Most “apprenticeships” offered today are simply a job title to justify lower than normal pay!

jewelers bench
working on jewelry

What is a Bench Jeweler apprenticeship?

To understand if an “apprenticeship” offer is real or not is rather simple, it must have 3 parts; academic class time for learning, practice time applying what is learned, and last paid on the job hours under the supervision of a highly experienced bench jeweler. Every part of the education must have clear goals and markers of completion, such as skills tests and hours worked. If the offer of apprenticeship does not have all 3 parts it is not a real apprenticeship. The loss of Unions and other Trade organizations over a generation ago have made real apprenticeships very rare. It also means that the true high demand traditional skills of the bench jeweler are rare. Instruction and training in the high demand traditional skills is very difficult to find.

The difficulty of learning a craft is that each generation starts new. The previous generation must teach the next or the skill is lost, forever. The loss of knowledge and disciplined skill is being felt by the jewelry industry. The highly skilled bench jeweler is in high demand!

 

How does Portland Jewelry Academy prepare students to be the best in the trade?

Portland Jewelry Academy focuses on disciplined, highly valuable skills. Master craft persons have used these valuable skills for hundreds of years to create jewelry. We incorporate new technology like CAD and 3D printing that have added to the craft skills. The knowledge of when to use the traditional skill or to use the new technology can only be known from learning both.  Jason Chandler is passionate that the skills he spent a lifetime acquiring are not lost and that every student is prepared to be the best jeweler possible.

Portland Jewelry prepares you to be in control of your own "Apprenticeship"!

As a new bench jeweler Portland Jewelry Academy provides the academic training along with practice time to provide the skills and training to be in charge of your own “apprenticeship”. The Private Facebook group Portland Jewelry Academy Alumni is a place where all students and graduates network with each other to share bench tricks and new techniques. This allows for students, new graduates, alumni, instructors, and staff to learn and use each others experience. The collective wisdom combined with the solid, shared foundation of skills all members have from Portland Jewelry Academy help to guide you in the first few years of your own self guided "apprenticeship". This is not a true apprenticeship, they are rare now. It is a great alternative and provides the best combination for success in today's jewelry market.

The profit center of most successful stores today are built around the skills of the bench jeweler. The skills required to be one of these jewelers today is more demanding than ever. The curriculum at Portland Jewelry Academy is designed to give the foundation of a successful career as a Bench Jeweler.

ingot casting