Over 487,000 people were employed as buyers, purchasing agents and purchasing managers in the U.S. in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among those, only around 1,600 work as metal and mineral industry wholesale and retail buyers, purchasing agents and purchasing managers. That makes jewelry buyers a very exclusive club, meaning that connections in the industry and paying your dues in retail for a few years are often prerequisites for landing a buyer position.
Higher education integral to future success
Earn a college degree. Although a degree is not necessarily a requirement to become a jewelry buyer, having one demonstrates your intellectual abilities and commitment. [1,3] Furthermore, according to a 2010 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, “high school graduates and dropouts will find themselves largely left behind in the coming decade as employer demand for workers with post-secondary degrees continues to surge.’’ 
Apply to work as a retail salesperson in a larger local jewelry store or a national chain. Jewelry sales professional responsibilities include merchandising, helping customers inspect jewelry, answering customer questions, helping with inventory, data entry and assisting with marketing events. You need several years of industry experience before you will be considered for a buyer position. 
Earn a jewelry industry certification.  The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) offers an accredited certification program. GIA's Accredited Jewelry Professional Program will give you a thorough introduction to evaluating gems and jewelry as well as valuable insider knowledge about the industry. 
Develop your personal and professional networks during your first few years working in the jewelry business. Being friendly and making connections in the business will pay dividends when it comes time to look for your first job as a buyer.
Apply for buyer, purchasing manager or wholesale manufacturer's rep positions after you have at least three or four years experience. It is obviously ideal if you can move up to a buyer position with your current employer, but don't be afraid to spread your wings and look for new opportunities if there is little possibility of career advancement. 
- Another path is working as a buyer in another industry for several years, but educating yourself about gems and the jewelry business in your spare time. Apply for entry-level jewelry buyer or buyer's assistant positions when you have sufficient experience and industry knowledge.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: OOH -- Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: OES -- Metal and Mineral (except Petroleum) Merchant Wholesalers
- The Princeton Review: Career: Buyer
- Jewelers of America: Careers in the Jewelry Industry
- The New York Times: Employers Increasingly Expect Some Education After High School
- Gemological Institute of America: Accredited Jewelry Professional Program
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