TAFE NSW nurtures next generation of jewellery artisans amid sector surge

The jewellery manufacturing sector in Australia is experiencing a remarkable surge, with industry revenue climbing by 12.5 percent over the past five years.

Written by Jewellery World

The jewellery manufacturing sector in Australia is experiencing a remarkable surge, with industry revenue climbing by 12.5 percent over the past five years, according to IBIS World. In response to this growth, TAFE NSW Design Centre Enmore is equipping the next generation of jewellery manufacturers and designers, offering the only nationally accredited trade qualification in New South Wales.

Interest in TAFE NSW’s Certificate III Jewellery Manufacture course has soared, attracting a diverse range of students, from aspiring 16-year-old apprentices to seasoned hobbyists in their 70s. This surge in interest reflects the enduring allure of the trade, blending age-old traditions with modern technological advancements like 3D printing.

Moth orchid earrings in 9K gold. Image supplied by TAFE NSW.
925 silver earrings using ancient hammering technique repoussé. Image supplied by TAFE NSW.

One such success story is Sydney-based jewellery artist Riley Concannon, 35, whose journey exemplifies the enduring appeal and evolving nature of jewellery craftsmanship. Drawn to jewellery design by its permanence and historical significance, Concannon completed Certificate IV in Design at TAFE NSW Design Centre Enmore a decade ago before returning in 2023 to pursue further expertise in jewellery manufacturing. 

Graduating in December, Concannon now splits his time between ROX Gems & Jewellery in Sydney’s Strand Arcade and his own studio in Gladesville, where he primarily operates online, attracting clients from across the globe through platforms like Instagram.

Jewellery designer Riley Concannon. Image supplied by TAFE NSW.
18k gold ring 'As you are now, so once was I.'

Reflecting on his craft, Concannon remarked, “I love that within my trade, I’m carrying on an ancient tradition… Every civilisation has had a form of jewellery, it’s an instinctual urge that we’ve always had to create and wear…Things are so disposable nowadays, but you can still find people who are willing to emotionally invest in jewellery and I find great comfort in that.”

Gina Kind, Head Teacher of Jewellery Design at Design Centre Enmore, emphasised the course’s practical focus and its role in preparing graduates for employment opportunities or entrepreneurial ventures within the industry. “As the only industry-recognised jewellery manufacturing trade course in the state, we’re very pleased to see a large cohort of students enrol in the course each semester. The course of offers practical experience and the opportunity to develop specialist skills that will give our graduates an advantage in the job market. Although the jewellery industry has undergone significant changes and challenges over the years, it’s a trade that will endure forever,” Kind says.

With the jewellery manufacturing sector witnessing a resurgence, TAFE NSW Design Centre Enmore remains committed to nurturing the talents of aspiring artisans, ensuring they are equipped with the skills and expertise to thrive in this timeless craft.

For more information on TAFE NSW’s Certificate III in Jewellery Manufacture or the Diploma of Visual Arts (Jewellery), visit tafensw.edu.au. To explore Riley Concannon’s work, visit rileyconcannon.com or follow him on Instagram.

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