Kaihanga Taonga Rei
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Jewellers design, make, alter and repair items such as rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
Manufacturing jewellers up to five years' experience usually earn
$33K-$60K per year
Manufacturing jewellers with more than five years' experience usually earn
$60K-$100K per year
Source: Jewellery Industry Registration Board of New Zealand, 2016.
Pay for jewellers varies depending on skills, experience and whether they are working as a manufacturing or contemporary jeweller.
- Manufacturing jewellery apprentices usually start on the minimum wage, with pay rising to $60,000 a year once they are fully qualified.
- Experienced manufacturing jewellers with five or more years' experience, and those who run their own businesses, can earn up to $100,000.
Pay for contemporary jewellers varies widely and depends on their success and ability to market themselves.
Source: Jewellery Industry Registration Board of New Zealand, 2016.
- PAYE.net.nz website – use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Jewellers may do some or all of the following:
- design jewellery
- select metals and gems
- melt and roll out metal
- cut, bend and shape metal, or cast metal from a plaster mould
- solder (join metals) and file and polish jewellery
- make settings for gems, and set gems securely into pieces of jewellery
- polish and clean jewellery once completed
- estimate the value of jewellery, and determine gemstone value by colour, cut, clarity, gem variety and carat (weight)
- sell jewellery in a retail shop.
Skills and knowledge
Jewellers need to have:
- knowledge of jewellery styles and designs
- knowledge of metals and alloys
- knowledge of gemstones and their value
- knowledge of different methods of cutting and setting gemstones
- design skills.
Those running their own business need small business skills.
- usually work regular business hours, and may work weekends if they work in retail
- work in small workrooms, private studios, and shops.
What's the job really like?
Anna Nalder is in her final year of a four-year apprenticeship with Jewel Beetle in Nelson.
What attracted you to this job?
"I’ve always been fascinated by treasure – old coins, jewellery, crockery from shipwrecks. I loved pirate stories as a kid and used to spend hours untangling necklaces and chains in my mother’s jewellery box.
"At school I deliberately chose arts and design subjects and took evening classes in basic jewellery making."
What are the pros and cons of doing an apprenticeship?
"The advantages are that you work alongside someone knowledgeable and experienced, you get real-world experience, you learn by putting theory into practice, and you get one-to-one tuition.
"The main disadvantage is you have to be prepared to move location to find an apprenticeship. You also have to find someone you get on with and who is passionate about the trade. Otherwise four years is a long time to spend with someone you don't particularly like!"
What gives you a sense of achievement as a jeweller?
"Seeing someone fall in love with a piece of jewellery I have created is a great feeling, and knowing that I have created a potential heirloom for that family that will be treasured for generations."
- Seeing my jewellery design ideas come to life.
- Creating one-off commissions for a special anniversary, especially if it’s a surprise for one half of the couple.
- Cleaning out muck from people’s rings and earrings.
- Keeping it secret if I am making an engagement ring for friends or family.
To become a trade-certified manufacturing jeweller you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Trade Certificate.
The Jewellery Industry Registration Board of New Zealand oversees apprenticeships for jewellers.
Some people also work as contemporary art jewellers, which does not require industry-certified training.
- Jewellery Industry Registration Board of NZ website - information about apprenticeships and training for jewellery jobs
NCEA Level 1 English, maths and science is preferred. Art and design subjects are also useful.
Jewellers need to be:
- accurate, with an eye for detail
- able to solve problems
- practical, with good technical and maths skills.
Useful experience for jewellers includes:
- any work in the arts
- work as a salesperson
- draughting and design experience (including computer-aided design)
- work as a jeweller's assistant
- any metalwork experience.
Jewellers should have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).
Find out more about training
- Jewellery Industry Registration Board of New Zealand
What are the chances of getting a job?
Limited number of manufacturing jewellery apprenticeships
Manufacturing jeweller apprenticeships are fairly hard to come by. According to the Jewellery Industry Registration Board of New Zealand, about 10 new apprentices are taken on each year. Manufacturing jewellery stores only take on one to two apprentices per trade-certified jeweller each year.
New Zealand Certificate in Manufacturing Jewellery can help your chances
Enrolling in a manufacturing jewellery qualification, such as the New Zealand Certificate in Manufacturing Jewellery, can help your chances of being accepted into a manufacturing jeweller apprenticeship.
The certificate has three stages to it, and employers like to take on people who have completed stage one, which is theory-based. The qualification needs to be completed during the apprenticeship.
Contemporary jewellers may need to supplement their income with other work
Self-employed contemporary jewellers often work part time and combine jewellery-making with another job. Their success depends on how they market and promote themselves, and word-of-mouth advertising.
Types of employers varied
Manufacturing jewellers usually work at private manufacturing workshops or workshops at retail jewellery stores.
Contemporary jewellers usually work for themselves in small private studios, and exhibit and sell through galleries.
- Harrison, G, chairman, Jewellery Industry Registration Board of New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, April 2016.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
Progression and specialisations
Jewellers may progress to owning a business and employing staff. They usually specialise in one of the following areas:
- Contemporary Jeweller
- Contemporary jewellers generally haven't completed a formal apprenticeship, and work part time making one-off commissions or limited edition pieces. They often exhibit and sell their work in places like art galleries.
- Manufacturing Jeweller
- Manufacturing jewellers generally work in private manufacturing workshops or workshops at retail stores, where they produce lines of jewellery or one-offs for sale. They are-trade certified and must complete a formal apprenticeship.
Last updated 1 June 2017