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Is the Diploma in Silver Jewellery with the Jewellers Academy Worth it? Here's my honest opinion.




For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Jewellers Academy, it is an online platform and community dedicated to providing resources, courses, and support for jewellery makers and designers of all levels. Founded by Jessica Rose, it offers a variety of classes ranging from beginner to advanced levels, covering topics such as silversmithing, stone setting, CAD design, and business skills for jewellery makers. Jewellers Academy aims to inspire and empower individuals in their jewellery-making journey through education and community support.


Their Silver Diploma Course is a comprehensive online course designed to teach individuals the essential skills and techniques to create beautiful silver jewellery.


It covers various topics such as design principles, metalworking techniques, and stone setting. This course suits complete beginners as well as those looking to enhance their jewellery-making skills.



And read below to find out what I think...


I am one of the self employed, industry mentors that you may be matched with on this course. I spent 3 years studying a full time, jewellery silversmithing degree and have over 25 years experience as a learner and tutor - all of which was face to face, and in person.


I was invited to become a mentor for the Jewellers Academy a couple of years ago and initially I wondered, is this course actually any good? How effective can a remote, online course be? Especially in such a niche field with many students who are absolute beginners!


Here's what I think...



There's Structure

For me, this is one of the biggest pros! We are living in an incredible age of free information. Millions of jewellery instruction books, YouTube tutorials, social media posts, and blogs provide a wealth of free tuition. However, it can be challenging to identify which free tutorials meet your needs, especially when you are new to jewellery silversmithing. Is it pitched at the right level for you? Is it suitable for your tool set-up and budget? Do you need previous experience to understand the tutorial? Is what is being taught safe? Do you really need the tools they are using, or do you already have things that will do the job?

The Jewellers Academy Silver Diploma is structured in a way to eliminate these issues. 

They can supply your tool kit and materials, or you can source your own using their comprehensive list.


Term 1 focuses on building a solid grounding in the fundamentals of jewellery silversmithing. These fundamental skills are the ones that provide the basis for all your future learning.  A strong understanding of the fundamentals is often missed when learning through other routes, such as ad hoc classes and self-directed learning, which in turn often limits students' progression and confidence.


Term 2 builds upon these fundamental skills through carefully curated projects that walk you through creating more complex designs. The progression of skills is set out in a way that helps you build your knowledge in the most logical way. Once you've gotten to grips with the fundamental skills and started to refine more advanced skills, such as complex soldering, it's time to get a feel for your interests and style. 


The latter half of the course offers many inspirational taster sessions, such as keum-boo, wax carving, granulation, and boxes and lockets. Valuable supporting skills are also included, such as photography, pricing, business planning, designing, and technical drawing. 



But what about Guidance?

How will you possibly get enough guidance? Surely, in-person, classroom-based learning is better? One of the standout features of the Jewellers Academy Silver Diploma course is the access to expert guidance from industry professionals. Throughout the program, students receive personalised feedback and support from experienced instructors, ensuring they constantly improve and refine their craft. They also have 24/7 access to a dedicated Facebook group where they can ask questions, learn from previous Q&As about their weekly projects, and share tips with their fellow students. 


It's natural for prospective students to worry about the amount of support they will receive by doing an online diploma, but I've been contemplating my own in-person degree course. I honestly feel the Jewellers Academy Diploma students receive as much 1-1 and (video call) face-to-face support as I did during each term of my classroom-based degree course, which was a full-time, five-day-per-week program. 



It's Intensive

The Silver Diploma course offered by Jewellers Academy covers everything from the fundamentals of silversmithing to advanced techniques. Whether you're a beginner or a more experienced jeweller looking to refine your skills, this course offers a structured curriculum designed to cater to all skill levels.


I can honestly say the Silver Diploma Students cover far more in their one academic year course, where they're expected to dedicate 1 day a week than I did during my full-time, Monday – Friday, 3-year degree. Most jewellery degree programmes have a heavy weighting towards supporting studies such as art history, critical studies, design development and theoretical practice. While these areas are interesting and valuable, most jewellery degrees focus far less on the technical skills of making jewellery. The idea and critical practice behind the jewellery are often deemed more important than the finished piece.


This is one of the reasons why the Jewellers Academy decided to create diploma courses with a greater focus on technical and day-to-day business skills. This approach also results in fast-tracking students, enabling them to graduate with a complete portfolio of jewellery designs and skills. Which I certainly didn't graduate with after my 3-year degree course, and I graduated with the top marks in my year!


The course is intensive, and you are encouraged to work hard. However, as you are only expected to dedicate the equivalent of a day a week to your studies, it demonstrates how much can be achieved in such little time when you build a good routine. A lot can be learnt and achieved in 8 hours!  


The course focuses on your learning and knowledge development and building technical skills. Projects aren't expected to be perfect in a single day, week or even term. The aim is to learn enough that you feel confident continuing to build on and refine those skills independently. This is one of the most significant skills you can learn! The confidence to carry on independently by reflecting on your current knowledge and learning to problem solve. In my experience, this is the skill that is often missing when people solely take in-person classes. They are used to having someone on hand to answer their questions or offer advice instantly, and because of this, they often struggle to make or progress their skills at home as they’re not used to problem-solving or accessing information independently.



Does Remote Tuition work for Jewellery?

The course's main content is provided through professionally filmed video tutorials. People often presume this is not ideal for such an intricate, hands-on subject. Still, in my experience, students can see in far greater detail due to the small elements looking larger on the screen. They can pause and repeat as often as they wish rather than having to take all the information in 'live' and try to remember it. 


I've often been in my studio with my weekly students, only to find them watching my own video tutorials in class! When I ask them why they're watching my videos when I'm standing right next to them, they say it's because they can watch me do the same section of a tutorial over and over until they feel confident their brains have processed the information. 


When diploma students have questions, they have 24/7 access to a dedicated Facebook group with their fellow diploma students, Jewellers Academy staff, and Mentors. They also have fortnightly small group video calls with their dedicated mentor, where all their questions can be answered and top tips for the current projects can be shared.


They also have 2 hours of dedicated 1-1 support with their mentor every term, to boost their learning, answer questions and provide valuable feedback and advice on students work.


Reflecting on my silversmithing degree, I don't think I had this much time with my tutors. They usually came into the studio and did a short, live demonstration, after which they promptly left us to get on with it on our own. We were expected to write our own notes during the demo. My notes were useless as my dyslexic brain couldn't cope with listening, watching and writing simultaneously! We each received about 30 minutes of 1-1 support each term with an hour 1-1 review each year. 


In person doesn’t necessarily mean more support!



Is there Flexibility?

The silver diploma provides an unparalleled mix of routine and flexibility. Based on their availability, students are matched with their mentors and placed into small groups to build their relationships in familiar and supportive environments. A new project is introduced at the beginning of each week, and regular live support sessions are available to join.


However, if you're unable to make a session. Recordings are provided, and you have complete control over when you work on your projects.


Some students dedicate 1 day a week, some a couple of hours a day. Some dedicate a few days a week to striving to get the best results they can. Spending as much time as possible on your projects is great but certainly not essential for your learning or diploma. 


Many students have full-time jobs, family commitments or health concerns. This flexibility gives everyone the best chance of achieving as much as possible.



What about Networking Opportunities?

Enrolling in the Silver Diploma course provides you with valuable skills and opens doors to a vibrant community of fellow jewellers and industry professionals. Through online forums, live Q&A sessions, and networking events, students can connect with like-minded individuals and build lasting relationships within the jewellery-making community. Many students develop their own valuable network to continue supporting each other long after the diploma comes to an end.


Are there Career Advancement Opportunities?

If you aspire to launch your own jewellery business or pursue a career in the industry, completing the Silver Diploma course can significantly enhance your prospects. The skills and knowledge gained through the program can set you apart in a competitive market and open up exciting opportunities for career advancement.


By the end of the course, you will have a comprehensive portfolio and a clearer understanding of your strengths and interests. 



Is Expensive?

The Silver Diploma costs approximately £3,000 - £5,000, depending on whether or not you need to buy tools and consumables. This is obviously a substantial sum for many.


However, when you compare it to £9,000 - £10,000 per academic year, excluding tools and materials for the average degree course or approximately £1000 per academic year for average in person, weekly silversmithing classes (which are often only 2hrs long!), the Jewellers Academy Diplomas are outstanding value for money, especially when you take into account how they fast track your skills and knowledge!


I am glad I did my degree when I was 18 years old as I loved the Uni experience. However, if I were looking to do a similar course now, I would benefit far more from a Jewellers Academy Diploma. Especially as it sets you up to be self sufficient at home rather than relying on others equipment and technical support. We are all stronger with the help and support of others, but you will grow more and go further when you have the confidence to value your own skills and abilities. I feel remote learning can really help with this.



We all know about Creativity and Wellbeing

Beyond the technical skills, learning a craft can be incredibly rewarding on a personal level. There's a sense of satisfaction that comes from creating something beautiful with your own hands. I always say, "Busy hands create a quiet brain." Hands-on creative activities, especially those that promote problem-solving, have been proven time and time again to have beneficial effects on health and wellbeing.


But what if you're not creative?!


Many students worry about whether they have to be creative or good at drawing. Firstly, I'm sure they are far more creative than they give themselves credit for. Secondly, the course is structured to focus on technical skills and learning. Students are welcome to get creative, but they are more than welcome (and often encouraged) to copy the pieces in the tutorials directly.


It is usually best to spend as much time as you can absorbing fundamental technical skills.


In the words of Pablo Picasso 

"Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."


I truly believe the Jewellers Academy Silver Diploma course offers a wealth of benefits for anyone passionate about jewellery-making. Whether you're looking to embark on a new creative journey, expand your skill set, or take your career to the next level, this comprehensive program provides the perfect opportunity to boost your skills and build your confidence within a supportive, friendly and inspiring community.


To sum up, I think it's dead good :)


Kim


If you'd like to find out more information or sign up for the Silver Diploma, click here.





As a member of the Diploma Launch Team, I am proud to be affiliated with Jewellers Academy for this course. Through this affiliation, I may receive affiliate payments at no cost to you. I wholeheartedly believe in this Diploma course and wouldn't endorse it otherwise and I'm excited to be sharing this with others who are passionate about jewellery making. If you do enrol on this course and are referred by me, I would love you to let me know and also to let Jewellers Academy know at contact@jewellersacademy.com

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