Employment is expected to grow more slowly than average. Prospects for bench jewelers and other skilled jewelers should be favorable; keen competition is expected for lower skilled manufacturing jobs, such as assemblers and polishers.
Employment change. Employment of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers is expected to grow by 5 percent between 2008 and 2018, more slowly than the average for all occupations. Most jewelry is currently imported, and continued growth in imports will limit demand, particularly for lower-skilled workers. However, demand for bench jewelers or other skilled jewelers will grow as consumers seek more customized jewelry.
Additionally, the consolidation and increased online presence of many jewelry outlets will constrain employment growth in the near future. Although nontraditional jewelry marketers, such as Internet retailers and discount stores, have expanded in recent years, many traditional retailers have countered with their own successful online presence. Since nontraditional retailers require fewer sales staff, which limits employment opportunities for jewelers, any slowdown in their expansion at the expense of jewelry shops is a positive sign for employment growth.
Traditional jewelers may continue to lose some of their market share to nontraditional outlets, but they will maintain a large customer base. Many buyers prefer to see and try on jewelry before purchasing it, or to enjoy the experience of shopping in a store. Jewelry stores also have the advantage of being able to offer personalized service and build client relationships. Additionally, new jewelry sold by nontraditional retailers will create demand for skilled jewelers for sizing, cleaning, and repair work.
Job prospects. Despite limited employment growth, opportunities should be favorable for bench jewelers and other skilled jewelers. New jewelers will be needed to replace those who retire or who leave the occupation for other reasons. When master jewelers retire, they take with them years of experience that require substantial time and financial resources to replace. Many employers have difficulty finding and retaining jewelers with the right skills and the necessary knowledge. Opportunities in jewelry stores and repair shops will be best for graduates from training programs for jewelers or gemologists and for those workers with training in CAD/CAM.
Keen competition is expected for lower skilled manufacturing jobs that are amenable to automation, such as assemblers and polishers. Jewelry designers who wish to create their own jewelry lines should expect intense competition. Although demand for customized and boutique jewelry is strong, it is difficult for independent designers to establish themselves.
The jewelry industry can be cyclical. During economic downturns, demand for jewelry products and for jewelers tends to decrease. However, demand for repair workers should remain strong even during economic slowdowns because maintaining and repairing jewelry is an ongoing process. In fact, demand for jewelry repair may increase during recessions, as people repair or restore existing pieces rather than purchase new ones.