The English language can be a confusing and very context-heavy thing. We often don't use words properly and if the point gets across then we don't think any further about it. Jeweler is one of those words that gets thrown around without much consideration for what it actually means. If someone says they're going to the jeweler it's generally interpreted that they're headed to a store that sells jewelry, but is that accurate?
What Exactly Is A Jeweler?
You can sort jewelers into two general classifications, there is also a third type that is a bit of a hybrid of the first two. You've got retail jewelers, bench jewelers, and that third type which is what I assume is meant when people just say 'jeweler'.
My father doesn't create jewelry, but he's been in the industry long enough to know all about different cuts and settings. He can easily tell you what sort of jewelry can or cannot be repaired. Let's take a look at each of the other types mentioned.
Probably the most literal definition of what a jeweler means. These are the men and women getting their hands dirty with valuable gems and precious metals. They can easily repair and alter jewelry. Why are they called bench jewelers? Well, they do literally sit at a jeweler's bench to do the vast majority of their work.
Some people might think that becoming a bench jeweler is relatively simple, but it's actually a very dangerous line of work to get into. There is a huge amount of toxic materials, caustic chemicals, and tools that can cause serious injury. Next time you ask why that piece costs so much, consider the work that a bench jeweler put in.
While bench jewelers work hard to make the jewelry the jewelers you interact with most often are very likely retail jewelers in the strictest sense. In the UK they even publish a retail jewelers magazine. I could make the argument that they aren't true jewelers but I'm not aiming to disrespect anyone's profession. Some know about repairs, others have an intimate knowledge of cuts and settings but the vast majority are just there to make a sale.
That's not to say they aren't worth interacting with, they can offer a plethora of knowledge that the average person walking into a jewelry store don't possess and covey that information in layman terms. They work hard and get their job done, but their level of knowledge struggles to compare with bench jewelers and generalists.
We talked about generalists a bit in the first few paragraphs, but it can't hurt to reiterate. Most generalist jewelers started out as jewelry sellers and spent decades to take their level of knowledge to the next level. Whether that be through a sheer number of decades or a level of passion that inspired a large amount of research.
Generalists jewelers are some of my favorite people to talk to since they have a trove of knowledge and know exactly how to convey it to someone with little to no practical experience with jewelry. If you find someone willing to take it upon themselves to perform some repairs they might be a generalist or a bench jeweler, you can often tell the difference based on the use or lack of technical terms.
So What Is A Jewelry Store Called??
When looking up synonyms for 'jewelry store' the results turn out jeweler and jeweller, so I might be fighting an uphill battle here. Many English speakers just want to say what they'd like to say in the shortest amount of time possible, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Save some time, but do know the difference. If you're looking to be pedantic with your loved ones this is some quality knowledge to have on your side. Next time anyone says they're headed to the jeweler you can ask them which kind!
'Jeweler'... Is It Actually 'Jeweller'?
One L or two? As with plenty of other words in the English language it depends which side of the Atlantic Ocean you hail from. Americans spell jeweler with only one L, as you might've noticed from the spelling of jeweler throughout this article it's fairly clear which side I fall on.
If you're from the UK you'll probably spell jeweller or jewellry. It looks really strange and feels awkward to type or even just look at. Considering they gave birth to the English language I lean towards two L's being the correct way, but it still triggers spellcheck so I guess the world may never know.
Jeweler Diatribe Conclusion
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The essence of language is simply conveying a message so it truly doesn't matter whether you're using jeweler to refer to a person or a retail outlet, or if you spell it with one L or two. As long as the message gets across it's not a big deal, but it is certainly an interesting thing to look at. These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.