You will take a lot of different classes in jeweler school, although the exact number is dictated by the degree you are seeking and the type of program in which you enroll. You might take general studies classes (such as English and history) as well as career-specific courses, or you might focus only on classes directly related to designing jewelry.
Survey of Western Art
It is sometimes important, when earning a degree in an art-related field, to take an art history class. This is so that you can develop a firm understanding of the roots of artistic expression as well as its evolution over time. In this particular art history class students learn about art dating as far back as prehistoric times all the way through the Middle Ages. In order to gain a full appreciation for the artwork, students will learn about the socioeconomic, political, and religious influences on paintings, sculpture, and architecture. Instructors tend to emphasis iconography and techniques and to introduce students to a variety of media so that students finish the course with an ability to analyze and discuss art forms in a broader context.
It is imperative that at some point in your studies you learn how to properly render pieces of jewelry such as necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, and pendants. You will learn how to draw all these pieces from various perspectives and gain practice illustrating different types of jewelry. This class is sometimes taught as a single unit and other times is broken into multiple courses. In more advanced classes students add to their knowledge and focus more on rendering specific details. The goal is for students to express the different artistic characteristics of jewelry through different media, such as pencils and markers.
Wax Carving and Casting
Although many jewelers now use almost exclusively computer-aided design to craft images, it is still important to know how to develop prototypes using wax. You will start by learning about the different materials involved in wax carving and then study the techniques and principles of the process. The goal is for students to get practice creating models out of wax and then casting their designs. At the end of the class students may have several finished jewelry models to add to their portfolio.
Of course, all jewelers need to know how to work with metal, as this is the material out of which most people in the profession create their designs. The course often covers a variety of in-depth material, so sometimes program directors choose to break up the class into two different sections. In a beginner class instructors train students how to apply different fabrication techniques to the metalsmithing process to create basic jewelry designs. In more advanced classes students build on these skills and learn more complicated methods, such as how to design and create connecting mechanisms. You might also learn how to form and manipulate a variety of metals, such as by raising and chasing.