Adapting to Changing Workplaces: GIA Offers Employment Insight

A man and woman shake hands during a career fair event. In the background is a GIA poster.
Sonia Chaves, GIA manager of talent acquisition, greeted possible candidates at the 2018 GIA Jewelry Career Fair in New York.

There was a great deal of talk about the need for the gem and jewelry industry to adapt to the changing workforce and changing consumer attitudes at the recent GIA International Gemological Symposium.

Julia Popovich, GIA career services advisor and Peter Harts, GIA manager of career services, offer some tips on how companies can adapt to meet those needs and issues.

“We are still a traditional industry in the way we hire. Many companies take a classical approach when looking for candidates and prefer word of mouth referrals to a blind job posting,” Harts said. “However, more and more companies, large and small, are recognizing the need to make their presence better known in the marketplace.”

Five people sitting down on stage during a panel discussion at the GIA Jewelry Career Fair in New York City.
The opening panel “Job Success in Today’s Market” offered 2018 Career Fair attendees insight and advice. From left: Jennifer Wilson, GIA senior vice president and general counsel; Joel Schechter, executive vice president at Richline Group, Inc.; recent GIA graduate Fallon Bock, a diamond quality specialist at Leo Schachter Diamond Group; Greg Kwiat, chief executive officer at Kwiat & Fred Leighton; and Wendy Brandes, owner and president of Wendy Brandes Jewelry.

Popovich adds that, “As social media becomes more prevalent, we are seeing an increase in companies looking for candidates to bring non-traditional skills, such as digital marketing, in addition to traditional office administrative skills when filling new openings.”

Employers are also using new methods to introduce themselves to potential employees and find the ones who will be the best fit for their workforce.

“With the emergence of technology, we are seeing new ways in which companies are building their brand awareness and acquiring talent,” Hart said. “GIA is at the forefront of this trend with its Gem and Jewelry Career Center. This online job board – exclusively for the jewelry industry – is free for job seekers and employers, and offers powerful features to speed up the search for qualified candidates, in one easy to navigate location. Other industry organizations are following suit and have their own online, industry-specific job boards as well.”


Four people sitting at a table talking.
Danielle Barber, creative director at Suna Bros. Inc., meeting with an attendee at GIA’s New York Jewelry Career Fair in 2018.

In terms of the types of jobs available, the GIA career services team stresses that because millennials are taking a keen interest in period, estate and older jewelry pieces, there is an increased need for appraisers across the country and a new interest in evaluators and authenticators for older pieces.

There is also a need for those who create jewelry, either with new technology or traditional methods, Popovich said.

“Technology is also changing how we design and produce jewelry, which requires many new skill sets,” Popovich said. “The demand for computer-assisted design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) expertise has increased due to the availability and cost effectiveness of new technologies and their impact on production efficiencies. This trend is industry wide, from independent retailers, large brands and private label manufactures. In addition, demand for bench jewelers is up, across all sectors of production, and expected to grow in 2019.”


A student using Zbrush on a dual-monitor.
The cutting-edge GIA Jewelry Design & Technology Program includes Zbrush, which makes it possible for student designers to digitally sculpt their jewelry ideas and create stone settings using GIA-developed digital brushes. Zbrush is also taught in GIA’s CAD/CAM courses.

Beyond technology, there is a trend toward U.S. jewelry manufacturers bringing operations back to this country as younger consumers take a much greater interest in sustainability and ethical sourcing. Attention to these issues is critical to both attracting them as new employees and as consumers of gems and jewelry.

All this said, technology enhances traditional skills to make companies more productive, so there is still a strong need for those jobs in our industry.

Top job postings on GIA’s Gem and Jewelry Board include:

  1. Sales Associate
  2. CAD/CAM (Technician/Operator/Designer)
  3. Quality Assurance Specialist and Evaluator (Gemstones, Diamonds, Finished Jewelry)
  4. Bench Jeweler (Production and Independent)

GIA holds annual Jewelry Career Fairs in Carlsbad, New York and London. For more information visit https://www.gia.edu/career-fair.

This article originally appeared in Diamond District Monthly’s February edition.

Russell Shor is senior industry analyst at GIA in Carlsbad.