Making a living doing what you love is a dream come true. If you tried beginner gemstone shaping and loved it, then you might start to consider if you can make a living cutting gemstones. The truth is that much like any other pursuit, it is completely possible. Getting there might take some legwork so let's break down exactly how much work it would take to survive on a jeweler's profits.
In order to pull money out of the raw gemstones you've likely invested in, you'll need to do a bit of further investing and find yourself a faceting machine and a few laps for grinding and polishing. You can find a used faceting machine but you'll want to bring along someone who knows what to look for in order to determine whether or not the deal is as great as it sounds on the surface.
Unless you have a ton of money to invest in this new venture you'll probably find yourself fairly tapped out after purchasing a faceting machine. Luckily cutting gemstones results in a tangible product which means starting up as a gemstone cutter is much easier than getting into something like writing. I worked for years creating free articles just to get my legs under me.
Starting up in a gemstone venture means that you'll be cutting low-cost gems to try and work up some capital. While cutting quartz might not seem glamorous, it has the added benefit of not breaking the bank if the cut isn't executed properly. There will be a steep learning curve, and that means more investment but eventually you'll be able to pull cash out of the raw stones you've purchased.
How Much Do You 'Need'?
This question will probably be the biggest one you'll need to ask yourself (and possibly your spouse) before you start trying to survive off of gemstone cutting. Depending on what stage of life you decide to make this shift, the answer can vary pretty widely. I probably wouldn't have taken the leap if my kids were around because I want to provide the world for them, but even if you have children it's perfectly possible to explore a new career path.
Depending on how much money you need each month to get yourself and your dependents through, you might need to continue working the job that you're likely trying to move away from until your skills have proven themselves. We need a number to work towards so for this exercise let's say the bare minimum is $3000 per month.
Investment Is Profit
Revenue is not profit. One of the biggest mistakes I've seen new entrepreneurs make is to treat every cent they receive like its profit. Profit is very easy to define, it's simply the revenue received minus costs. Costs as a gemstone cutter will likely include the gemstone itself. You might also choose to include electricity and wear and tear on the laps used in the cutting process. If you buy an emerald for $100 per gram and get it cut and sold for $250, you can bank $150 and use the other $100 to repeat the process.
However, if you're looking to grow that profit margin you'll probably need to do some more investing in yourself. If you can live with banking just $50 then you can snag two of those hypothetical emeralds for $100 per gram and get them sold for $500. With an investment of $200 you're looking at $300 profit. To reach that $3000 mark needed to survive you'll need to cut 20 stones per month. It's doable, but difficult.
Breaking The Ceiling
The secret to success in gemstone cutting is quality over quantity. You want to take your time with each piece and put in the best work that you're capable of at the time. There are certain cuts that will fetch a higher price but they require decades of experience to pull off at a level worth paying for. You'll get much more return out of an immaculate round cut than you will out of a shoddy pear cut.
Aside from picking the right cut, you'll want to ensure you're picking the right materials. Emeralds were probably a terrible example because they are notoriously difficult to cut due to the number of inclusions and surface fractures and mistakes are extremely costly, especially when you're first starting out. High dollar gems with a pristine cut can easily make you a mint, but your skills will need to be just as flawless as the gems you're working.
If you're doing immaculate work with high-dollar gems you can clear $3000 per months by only cutting two or three gems. Take as much time as you need and get them perfect!
Selling Your Gemstones
Fortunately, we've already covered how to sell gemstones in a separate blog. It isn't difficult for a proven gemstone cutter to form mutually beneficial relationships with both raw stone merchants to buy from and retail jewelers to sell to. Getting into the inner circle can be difficult, but it will end up paying dividends. There are certain raw stone merchants who will provide me stones on credit. This makes it infinitely easier to scale up your business.
You can absolutely make a living cutting gemstones. If you pair that with a bit of metalworking and start making your own jewelry? You'll find yourself rolling in the dough if it's up to snuff. Buyers will shell out big bucks for a one-of-a-kind piece of handmade jewelry.
If you're storing silver you should seriously consider our anti-tarnish cloth storage bags. You want to offer customers the highest quality possible with absolutely no visible wear and tear. When attempting to sell your goods, you'd be surprised what a difference it makes to give your stones a quick cleaning. The easy and portable shine stick diamond cleaner will keep your gems from looking greasy and cloudy during a sales situation.