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Getting Hired


Zaetrix
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Now, I know this isn't a topic that exactly fits the specifications of this board, but I am guessing that it is something that the posters here could help me with.

To start out with, I'm an 18 year old male that lives in Chicago, IL. I go to Butler University in Indianapolis and will be entering my Sophomore year in the fall. Starting in March of last year I worked at Sears as a jewelry salesman. I topped our sales charts every month and loved it. I got the job out of pure chance and was skeptical to begin with, but I began to love it and realized that jewelry and diamonds have become a passion of mine. I love to go out and look at the jewelry in the bigger, fancier stores. I had contacts with an Ultra Diamonds store in the local mall and the manager was willing to hire me starting this summer when I got home from school. When I got home though, he was no longer able to offer me a job because he was fully staffed and his boss wouldn't allow him to get any more hours to give me.

Since then, I have gone into almost every jewelry store in the area looking for a seasonal job, to work summers and holidays when I come back into town. Not one has been able to offer me a job. I don't know if it is because I am only 18 and only have jewelry experience from Sears, or if it is because of my only being seasonal.

 

What I am looking for from you is advice on how to get myself into the industry, how to make myself something that stores would like to have added to their staff. Is there any education that you recommend that I look into, or specific jobs I look for. Or is this something that I should just wait until I graduate to try and get into? Any help would be very much appreciated.

Thank you

Andy

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If you're interested in formal education the trade standard is the GIA GG degree (Graduate Gemologist). If you want to pursue this you can do much of it through their distance education program. The lab courses are offered around the country and Chicago is one of the annual stops.

 

More here: http://www.gia.edu/education/30259/2006_ex...n_schedules.cfm

 

There is an AJP degree (Accredited Jewelry Professional) that focuses more on product knowledge and sales techniques.

 

The best practical education is being in the biz. Jewelry stores do experience turnover so I suggest you keep trying. To get a leg up on the competition you might begin reading everything you can, whether on the 'net (learn from reputable sources of course :( ) and in books. Familiarize yourself with the different grading labs, the latest developments in the trade - synthetics/treatments/the internet - some basic metallurgy and especially get a handle on what today's consumers are asking. Many retail stores are seeking salespeople who can interface with the increasing number of internet-educated consumers.

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I've been reading up on everything I can find here and elsewhere. Sears didn't really give me that good of an education on diamonds past just color and clarity, but through my continued education I feel I have a better grasp of the knowledge. I've been looking at charts for the standards of the different grading labs and such.

One question I have though is if you know of anymore websites/books that give good reliable information that I could read up on.

Thank you so much for your advice already, I truly appreciate it.

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Your best bet is to enroll with GIA for as many courses as you can afford and handle.

 

They are THE BEST!

 

Call and speak to an GIA Education Rep. GIA training carries clout within the Trade and maximizes your ability to get hired.

 

Good Luck.

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Andy,

 

I’m really big on credentials and I have quite a few of them including the top one from GIA. I must say that I wouldn’t start out at GIA although I do recommend them as a career advancement move later on if you stay in the industry. It’s just too expensive and too time consuming. I think you started out right …. get a job.

 

Jewelers (and most employers) love pluggers, especially for sales positions. Put on a suit, take out the eyebrow piercings, show up at the store and apply in person. I know it’s a bit of a grind but there’s probably 300 jewelers in Indianapolis and I guarantee that some of them are hiring. Show up, talk to the manager, leave your resume and then do it again down the street. Look and act the part. Leave the deck of resume's in the car so that it doesn't feel like they are getting the bulk treatment. That is to say, SELL them on the idea of hiring you. The job interview for sales positions isn't just a social visit, it's a free sample of your work. If the manager isn’t there, leave a resume but make an appointment to come back, then show up on time and with a big smile. If they aren’t hiring, ask them if they know someone who is and then make sure to visit them. If they’re even remotely promising, come back and ask them again in a week or two. Keep notes about every visit and keep a detailed calendar. Send a thank you card as a followup for their time and referrals. You’ll have a job before you’ve visited half of them and you can have it within a month.

 

I would not do GIA until you’ve finished your other studies at Butler.

 

Neil

Edited by denverappraiser
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Andy,

 

I’m really big on credentials and I have quite a few of them but I must say that I wouldn’t start out at GIA although I do recommend them as a career advancement move later on if you stay in the industry. It’s just too expensive and too time consuming. I think you started out right …. get a job.

 

Neil

 

This is certainly an approach, but IMO possibly problematic.

 

Not all B&M Jewelers are knowledgeable and accurate about the products they sell. Internet Forums abound with stories by consumers of poorly trained B&M salespeople and store managers with little or erroneous product knowledge/information.

 

If you want to make a career in this Industry, you owe it to yourself to get off on the right foot by getting educated and trained right. GIA is that foundation.

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Barry,

 

We’re talking about an 18 year old man who is currently a full time student at a first rate university and whose only experience in the industry is a few months behind the counter at Sears. A GG costs on the order of $20,000 now and takes most students 2-4 years to complete. That’s a huge commitment to being part of the jewelry industry. Life changes a great deal between when you’re 18 and when you’re say, 25, and the chances that Andy’s life path will lead him away from jewelry is pretty high. There’s no reason to be in a hurry. If he ends up at the right store, they might even pay for his training. On the other hand, my plan costs close to nothing, takes a month or two and it frees up time and money to devote to studies at Butler, which is a foundation for more than just a career in the jewelry business. I stand by my advice. Start at the bottom and move up, and the first step is to show up.

 

Neil

Edited by denverappraiser
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I want to thank you both for your advice. I'm working hard enough to pay the bills of a small private university that I am not sure I could commit to paying the tuition of another education, despite the fact that I would love to. I'm working on your advice, Neil, and trying to get my face into their memories. I always show up in business dress with a big smile on my face. I make myself available and check in on them. If I leave an application with a manager I will come back within 1 or 2 days to see how they are making due with it.

One question I do have for you both is, that even though I can't afford an education like the one for GIA at the moment, is there a source of a reliable, good information that I can learn from where I won't have to pay the premo bucks? Is there a book or a handbook either from an outside source or printed by GIA? Do the GIA courses have textbooks that might be available for purchase despite the fact that I cannot attend the courses at this time? I know that a lot of the experience has to come from hands on, but I was wondering if there is some sort of base I can attain before it is possible for me to get that essential hands on experience.

Thank you both so much, I appreciate you taking your time to help out a noobie.

Thanks!

Andy

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A very good place to start is the excellent descriptive pictorial on diamonds by Gary Roskin: "Photo Masters for Diamond Grading".

 

Google 'Gary Roskin' and check Amazon.com as well as other sites such as bestbuy.com

Edited by barry
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Thanks for showing me that book, Barry, it seems to be something that I would be very much interested in. Now to find it for cheaper haha! I'm looking on GIA's website right now and I was curious if their Accredited Jewelry Professional diploma would be something worth getting. It is a lot closer to my price range, but is it worth the price?

Thanks!

Andy

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Good advice and good advice.

 

My suggestion lies between the two suggested paths :( . I acquired formal degrees in music, science & education before I entered the trade. The majority of what I needed to function in the trade I learned directly from top experts; reading their posts on forums like this as well as meeting and interacting with them in-person. Frankly, what you can learn in-person from elder statesmen of the trade can be immediately applied to your chosen sector. With that said, I am a firm believer in formal education and started absorbing everything I could as soon as I entered the trade.

 

I subscribed to G&G (here) and bought books recommended by my heros (the Roskin book Barry recommended is a must, and for any interested in the upstream side of cutting the Basil Watermeyer book is incredible). Here are some immediate, natural 'freesources:' First, daily trade news by Rap (see this site), and best of all, GIA gave an incredible gift to the trade by putting nearly 50 years of past G&G magazines online (linked here).

 

My GIA GG coursework has been extremely helpful, but they are now including all of the new cut grade training in the one week diamond grading lab. Students who don't have a leg up on round brilliant cut grading ahead of time have a hard time keeping up. Personally I believe they should make this a separate course, and believe they will. In any event my advice, if you do pursue the GG, is to study cut with a diamond cutter or someone who fully understands the mechanics of cut and cut grading prior to taking the grading lab. The AJP is good because it introduces you to fundamentals. You may be lucky enough to find an employer who will help finance that education and/or your GG.

 

My advice to students has always been "if you want to be the best, be WITH the best." You are young enough to surround yourself with people who have the integrity and knowledge you aspire to have. Pick your role models and pick their brains. Read a ton of history and stay well-rounded with regard to current events, trends and developments. The world's diamond supply is getting larger and the growing consumer base in China and India bode well for the future of demand. The shrinking US dollar (and our shrinking margins) are worrisome but globalization of demand, increasing consumer education and advances in science and our ability to represent our goods make this an exciting time to be in the trade.

Edited by JohnQuixote
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I love the photo masters book and also highly recommend it for learning about diamonds.

 

Here’s a low buck route to a remarkably good gemological education.

 

1) Go to ebay or one of the clones and buy ‘Handbook of Gem Identification’ by Richard Liddicoat. It's now in something like it's 12th edition but you can get it used for about $40 and you can get it back if you resell it on ebay when you’re done. This book, written in 1947 is the foundation of GIA. It’s not the easiest thing to read but it's worth the effort I’ll betcha you don’t want to sell it back. The local library will surely have a copy as well.

2) Read the online G&G material that John linked you to. If you can read and absorb this, you will be ahead of 99% of the professional jewelers out there. Free!

3) Join up with the local gem and mineral club. They tend to hang out at rock shops and jewelers supply places that you can find in the yellow pages. It's usually free or at least nominal in cost.

4) Check out the free online gemology course by Barbara Smigel. http://www.bwsmigel.info/

5) Go to the gem and jewelry shows in your town. Volunteer to man the booth for the Gem club in addition to walking the show. You'll make some good connections and it'll probably get you into the show for free.

6) Check out the forum and tutorials at http://www.gemologyonline.com

7) Participate in the forum here. Read peoples questions, read the answers given and, when you know the answer yourself, chime in. When someone asks something that’s interesting to you, research it and write up a well thought out answer. You’ll learn more by teaching others than you ever thought possible as a pure student.

8) I’m a big fan of ‘Gems’ by Robert Webster & Peter Read. It’s a bit pricey and harder to find used but it is to the British FGA program what the Liddicoat book is to the GG program.

9) When you get a job at a jeweler, make a habit of looking at the merchandise. Make sure the buyers, bench jewelers and appraisers know that you are interested in learning and that you would love to look at interesting things. Talk to the vendors who come in if it’s ok with the boss and let them do a ‘show and tell’ of what they’ve got that's interesting. Most are thrilled to talk to you but make sure you aren’t being an intrusion in their ability to sell their wares.

 

Neil

Edited by denverappraiser
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Well, I just wanted to let you all know how my day went. I went to Helzberg diamond's website and applied. After I applied I dressed up and went into the store to show myself. The manager was real nice, she said that the online applications are tough for the managers to get to and asked if I wouldn't mind working at another location (within 10 miles). She had me fill out a paper application. I talked to the manager for a little while, giving my own background to her. She seemed genuinely nice and impressed. She sent out my sheet for the background check and said that either herself or the manager from the other store would give me a call soon. I hope this is the real deal and not just some fake "friendliness." I've decided that if I don't hear from them in 3 or so days, I will go in and make myself known again.

 

After this I was very excited and I decided to go the library and check out all the buying and grading books on gems and diamonds that they have. I now have all of the material you all provided as well as some books of my own to look through. I want to thank you all for your kindness, as well as your great advice. I'll keep you all updated with what goes on.

Thanks!

Andy

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Well, I haven't gotten a call back from Helzburg yet, but I am planning on heading into the store tomorrow to show myself that I am determined and very interested. I have since popped into all of the other local stores that I had previously applied to. I have applied to about 4 or 5 stores so far and came in to show them my real interest. If nothing happens at Helzburgs or the others, I am going to head to the next town over to continue my search. I wasn't really keen on a 25-30 minute commute, but if that is what I have to do, I will. Thanks again for all of the support and advice.

Thanks!

Andy

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Well, I haven't gotten a call back from Helzburg yet, but I am planning on heading into the store tomorrow to show myself that I am determined and very interested. I have since popped into all of the other local stores that I had previously applied to. I have applied to about 4 or 5 stores so far and came in to show them my real interest. If nothing happens at Helzburgs or the others, I am going to head to the next town over to continue my search. I wasn't really keen on a 25-30 minute commute, but if that is what I have to do, I will. Thanks again for all of the support and advice.

Thanks!

Andy

 

 

Good luck, just to let you know most of us travel a good 30 minutes to work.

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Los Angeles is very nice if you're willing to relocate :( Or New York, you know even Chicago has a decent wholesale diamond district. Don't just look at retail, call up some wholesalers/manufacturers and ask for a job even if it's just filling orders or answering the phone and you're not handling jewelry. You'll learn a lot more working in the manufacturing and custom end of the business then retail if you ask me. Especially as it relates to quality issues, you'll also be able to give better estimates for custom related work and have a much better idea what can be made and what can not, and just in general things such as this.

 

My family has been in the manufacturing business for a long time now, I chose to get a mechanical engineering degree, worked in the engineering field (automotive and aerospace) a couple years just to get a general idea of good engineering practices, then I resumed working for my family in jewelry manufacturing while also expanding to online retail now at the same time.

 

Like others said having a GIA graduate degree is a big plus for retail. I won't go into more detail because others have posted lots of helpful advice, but this is a more traditional way of getting your foot in the door for a jewelry sales position if you ask me.

 

Another avenue to explore if the engineering/manufacturing aspect doesn't appeal to you, and if the retail sales avenue yields little leads, get yourself some education in design, just general design like "industrial design" type courses, most are not 4 year degrees but 1-3 years depending on the school. These teach the more artistic aspect of designing things with emphasis on form as well as function, aesthetics and ergonomics. I kind of wish I took more of these types of courses, I did take a few as electives but some schools specialize only in industrial design. They teach you the design basics to make everything from cupholders, or office chairs all the way to complex items such as automotive body forms. These design principles are used also in jewelry design as well. You don't worry about tensile yield strengths or how to calculate younge's modulus or all those other boring engineering things, you're mostly just concerned about making something beautiful and functional. Then once you have that type of degree, learning a basic type of jewelry-CAD software will make you the "complete package" for design in a high end retail jewelry store. All jewelry stores are or will be in need of high tech CAD designers who can interact with customers and be good sales people and also possess the technical knowledge and artistic passion for making one of a kind fine jewelry items. If you have a few years to spare to get a proper education and love jewelry design and love interacting with customers I would strongly suggest you go down this path.

 

Best of luck :)

 

Yosef

Edited by Adylon
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Just wanted to let you all know that I got a call today from Helzburgs while I was at work. It was the manager wanting me to come in at 6 tonight for an interview. I am so psyched and I'm going to show my best. I'm very excited and I want to thank you all again!

Wish me luck!

Andy

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It's always feels good to see a new member of our industry approach it with so much energy & enthusiasm. Congratulations on your upcoming interview, and definitely let us know how it goes!

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