Throughout history jewelry has been used for a variety of purposes, from good luck amulets worn by warriors going into battle to body-altering pieces used by certain tribes in Asia to lengthen their necks. In the modern world, jewelry is usually used as an adornment or as a symbol of something such as betrothal. Jewelry designers create necklaces, bracelets, rings, brooches and pendants. They may produce a jewelry collection of single pieces for clients. Salaries for jewelry designers are comparable to those for other professionals working with precious metals and stones.
For its May 2010 survey of U.S. employment trends, the Bureau of Labor Statistics classified jewelers alongside precious stone and metal workers such as diamond cutters and gem polishers. It reported that the mean annual salary across this professional grouping was $38,520. This translates into an hourly rate of $18.52. Those in the top 10 percent of earners received salaries of more than $61,380, while their colleagues in the bottom 10 percent earned less than $19,460. Workers may also receive additional benefits such as pension contributions and health insurance if they work for an employer. However, 54 percent of those survived said they were self-employed, so they had to provide these benefits for themselves.
Salary by Industry:
The bureau's survey showed that the largest number of practitioners worked within jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores. This sector of the industry had a mean yearly salary of $41,590. The rate in specialized design services was reported to be $32,440, while jewelers working for other professional, scientific and technical services earned a mean of $60,650 per year. Pay levels within miscellaneous durable goods wholesalers were listed at $37,570. The Economic Research Institute, at the time of publication, put the average wage for jewelry designers working in the wholesale sector at $43,305.
Salary by Location:
The bureau's analysis also shows how salary levels vary across different states. It listed Connecticut as the most lucrative location, with a mean annual wage of $53,860. Minnesota and New Jersey completed the top three at means of $48,490 and $45,666, respectively. Texas and Montana were reported to have similar wage levels -- $32,250 and $31,870, respectively -- while New Mexico was among the states with the lowest rates, with a mean of just $28,600 per year.
The bureau predicts that the job market for jewelry designers and precious stone workers in the United States will increase by around 5 percent over the decade from 2008 to 2018. This is a slower rate of growth than is expected for the whole nation -- between 7 and 13 percent within the same time frame. The bureau points to increases in online jewelry purchases and imported jewelry as primary reasons for this comparatively sluggish growth. As such, salary levels for the occupation are unlikely to rise significantly in the immediate future.