Handmade Jewelry Prices- Why such a Difference?
Handmade Jewelry Prices- Why such a Difference?
I know for me, it’s been a hard road figuring out my jewelry prices. One road I took had me selling my jewelry and actually going in the hole in money. Another road I took, gave me lots of profit, but no clients due to too high of a price.
A jewelry maker needs to find a middle road that provides adequate profit to stay in business. Many jewelry makers are artisans selling art-their jewelry. It’s hard to put a price on art. But here is my thoughts on the matter. I write this in hopes of helping people understand the price differences you see in handmade jewelry.
Handmade jewelry is priced according to: time spent making the piece(labor cost), materials cost, taxes, any extra fees, and if the piece comes out excellent or just good.
Material costs would include the price of the metal wire used, stones, and any other item used in making the piece of jewelry.
There is a large price difference when you compare Gold-plate wire vs Gold-filled wire vs Gold. Difference between Gold-plate vs Gold-Filled: Gold-plate is a base metal that has had a mico-thin layer of gold electroplated on to it. The layer is so thin, that it is easily scratched off or worn off within weeks. Gold-Filled is a base metal that has had a substantial amount of karat gold, as required by Federal regulations, placed on the base metal. This layer is solid gold. There are different karats- minimum being 1/10 or 10 karat gold to 1/20 or 20 karat gold. And solid gold is a solid karat rated gold, 1/10-1/20 karat gold. (taken from http://www.watchbatterybuyers.com/sell-gold-plated.php ) Similar to Silver. There is Fine silver 99.9% solid silver, Sterling silver 95% solid silver there is Silver-plate and there is Silver-filled. Silver plate being the least costly due to the micro-layer of silver. Here are prices of precious metals as of 5-5-2019 Silver $14.91 Gold $1278.50 Platinum $861.00 per troy oz. Information from https://www.riogrande.com
Beads. There is a difference between cost of wood beads, shell beads, glass beads, crystal beads, stones, gemstones, and pearls. I use pearls, gemstones, and stones and so I’ll talk about these. When I go to buy a semiprecious stone, such as Lapis Lazuli, there is a big price difference. One difference is how much Lapis Lazuli is actuaaly in the bead? This would come under grades. An “A” grade would be virtually solid Lapis Lazuli where a “D” grade would have a lot of other minerals added in it. The difference between these other then how much Lapis is also in looks. A better quality stone will have a nice sheen with no additives. Some stone beads come looking pretty good, but they are filled with dyes, synthetic additives, and binding chemicals. Other lower grade stones will be drilled poorly leaving broken holes. When I buy stone/gemstone beads, I try to get the highest grade with little or no dyes. The more the stone has been altered, the less value (energetically and physically) it has to me. Another factor with stone beads for price would be it’s shape. Recently I bought some cylindrical shaped Lapis Lazuli beads. Beautiful, shiny, deep rich natural high quality Lapis, but they came at a higher price. Pearls also are similar. The higher price provides you with a shiny, luminous rich looking and feeling pearl. Lower prices will give you haphazard shapes with dullness and a lot of ridges.
Stringing materials: Is the piece of jewelry put together by an elastic band, bead stringing, or is it put together with metal? Precious metal, plastic that resembles metal, toxic metal mixes, or metal? Big difference in cost here also.
Time! The more the piece of jewelry is a piece of art, the more time it took to make it. That is my thought from my own experiences. When you see some amazing, intricate wire work on stones, you know the artisan took at least many hours to make it. I’ve worked on one necklace that has taken me a week or more to make. To make a piece of jewelry, one will get an idea first. The next step is to write it down in picture form. Figuring out what shapes of beads would look best. How long. What shape of link to make and how to mix other ones in. How to wire wrap that pendent so it stands out. Next I will take inexpensive wire and I’ll try to make what I wrote on my paper. After many tries, I may finally get it made, but only to find out it doesn’t look right. I need to go back to my paper and re-figure it out. After all of the paper work and models have been done to satisfaction, I make sure I have I have the materials I will need. If not, I’m ordering the materials at my favorite source for them. After all of this, the necklace can be started. It’s not uncommon to run in to problems making a particular aspect of the necklace, such as a new wire wrap I’m trying out. Or a new wire link. Even if I’ve done the links or wrapping many times, I may still have problems getting it made to how I would like it. Each metal link made is measured, cut, filed, formed and refiled. Each link made needs to be fitted together, making sure it will sit correctly. Yes, one necklace may take a week or so to finish. And so, the labor cost will show the time spent on the piece of jewelry. Each jewelry maker will pay him or herself a different amount of money/hour.
Added extra fees would include: shipping, handling, jewelry boxes & cards, packaging, fee for giving back a small percentage of the money back in to the business, taxes from the state, or other type of costs. Even if the price of a piece of jewelry says it has free shipping, typically the shipping price would be added back in to the price.
Jewelry makers may also add on an extra charge because the piece of jewelry came out exceptional!
Pricing jewelry is or can be hard to do. But I think it’s even harder for a person who does not understand what goes in to a piece of jewelry to price it. In the past, I was at a vending show with my jewelry. I spent about 30 minutes talking to a lady who was interested in a bracelet I had made. She really seemed to like it. She left saying she would come back later. Well she came back later only to show me that she bought a bracelet that had a similar stone in it for only $18.00 vs $50.00 I was asking. Well, she did get a bracelet cheaper, but at what sacrifice? The bracelet she bought was made with a elastic band and some round beads, I’m not sure if it truly was real quality stones. These bands break within weeks of wearing them. The bracelet I had for her may have also broke, but less likely due to it was made with a beading string. (stainless steel)
And so when you look at all the different types of handmade jewelry or even department store or jewelry store jewelry, remember there is a difference. So it all depends on whether you’re looking for jewelry that you can have for years, handing it down to your relatives or for a piece of jewelry that if it breaks in weeks, no problem. Whether you’re looking for a healthy metal or a metal that who cares if it has heavy metals mixed in it or if it is plastic. Or whether you’re looking for a natural stone that brings beauty and health or a bead that just looks cute or a perfectly cut stone. Or are you looking for unique pieces of wearable art or you just want something that is like other women. It’s your call, but now, hopefully this article has helped you make a more informed decision.
Written by Cynthia Bergsbaken ,May 6, 2019
Cyn Bergsbaken Jewelry
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