Tulsa Tech’s Jewelry Program Provides Appealing Careers

A CUSTOM JEWEL: Veronica Moody is one of the instructors in the Jewelry Design & Repair program at Tulsa Tech’s Peoria campus.

Courtesy Tulsa Technology Center

In a world fascinated with jewelry and all things “bling,” there’s more than one way to get your hands on it. Tulsa Technology Center’s Jewelry Design & Repair program provides a wealth of opportunity.

Through the Peoria campus, adult students are equipped for career options in the jewelry industry. Technique and advanced skill training combined with design, manufacturing, and repair instruction furnish each graduate what’s needed to enter the marketplace of the professional jeweler.

Gemology instructor Veronica Moody and her colleague, Steven Sherrill, are building this successful program with years of actual trade experience. Moody, previously at OSU-Okmulgee for five years, has been involved in the Tulsa Tech program since it began in January 2006 while Sherrill has nine prior years at OSU-Okmulgee.

Moody trained at the Gemological Institute of America and instructed at their California division. Her experience enhances Tulsa Tech’s state of the art training environment that, regionally, is second to none.

Moody believes the jewelry industry has a certain appeal. “Those drawn to ‘pretty, shiny’ things along with those who are mechanical, hands-on types discover the wonder of working in this field.”

She also highlights the sense of privilege accompanying the jeweler’s craft. “When the day is done how many can say they created products for the enhancement of another’s happiness the way jewelry does?”

In this field there’s more than meets the eye and the same holds true for the Tulsa Tech program. According to Moody, interested students are not merely “artsy types,” as commonly thought, adding, “One can be a builder without being the architect.”

The curriculum combines apprenticeship with classroom training. Each of the course’s three semesters includes 600 hours spread throughout six hours a day, five days a week.

Moody says students learn to make jewelry from scratch. They create the design, alloy the metal, manufacture the component parts, and finish the final product for presentation to the customer.

“We teach the students to use a combination of current technology and traditional techniques. We expose them to all aspects of the trade since we don’t know exactly what positions they’ll be hired for.”

Technology is beneficial to the jewelry trade when used appropriately. Moody believes their success results from fully utilizing technology but not allowing it to replace the necessary “hands-on” aspect.

“We provide state-of-the-art equipment and train our students to use it. Our learning environment received high marks from a visiting jeweler who commented that he had never seen a facility like this one.”

Facilities house equipment ranging from the latest and most advanced laser welder and oxygen free casting machine to gas/oxygen torches and spin caster that have been used for hundreds of years. Individual rooms, dedicated to the various phases of jewelry making and gemology, surround the facility’s main training area.

Topics include jewelry design theory, evaluation, appraisal, repair, and a semester of study in diamond grading. Growth is prompting the development of specialized upgrade training for those currently in the jewelry industry.

Students also learn trends and how world markets and events impact the gem trade. As a bonus, through cooperating institutions, portions of the course apply to a student’s Associates degree path.

For those interested, Moody sees this new and expanding program as the launch point. “Our training enables students to get out there and do the job with confidence since they’ve been provided not only broad industry perspective but also the vital hands-on aspect.”

Career changers, those with a trades interest, and others captivated by all things “bling” have a state of the art training option. The increasingly successful Jewelry Design & Repair program at Tulsa Tech and its experienced instructors are raising the visibility of the fine jewelry craft.

Updated 04-10-2007

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