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Tips For Pricing Hand Made Jewelry

Want to make and sell Jewelry?

How to price your jewelry for sale.

I’ve been selling handmade jewelry since 2002. In that time, I’ve made some mistakes and learned a few things when it comes to pricing your jewelry for sale. Here are a few of my tips to make sure you get a fair price for your handmade resin jewelry pieces.

When I first got started selling handmade art jewelry, I was making sterling silver jewelry. The formula that worked best for me was to triple my materials cost. Silver was reasonably priced then and a triple markup allowed me to cover the materials and equipment, then left me with a fair profit. Once I moved into resin jewelry, that clearly wasn’t enough. If you’re only spending dimes to dollars on materials, multiplying that amount times 3 is going to undervalue your final product.

  1. Start by figuring out the fixed costs associated with selling your jewelry.  These are easy to overlook because no one thinks about these when you’re casting resin, but they certainly are important.  For me, these costs include insurance, taxes and licensing fees, utilities (phone, electricity), any interest (if you’re carrying a credit card balance on your supplies purchased for example) and finally the depreciation costs.  (These can be significant if you have a lot of equipment in your studio.)
  2. Decide what is a fair wage per hour for you as the person making the jewelry.  Another way to think of this is to ask yourself what you would pay someone to do this for you.  Calculate the number of pieces that you can make in an hour.  Divide your hourly wage by the number of pieces to get a labor cost per piece.
  3. Calculate your costs for producing the jewelry.  You will have variable costs on a per piece basis, such as the resin, findings, inclusions, etc.  You will also have costs associated with the jewelry that can be shared over several pieces.  For example, a $5.00 mold that can be used to create 10 casting would add 50 cents to each piece, not $5.00.
  4. Add your labor and materials cost per piece together to get your cost per piece.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. Most people would stop there and say that’s a fair price. I will tell you you’re not done! This isn’t even a wholesale price yet and let me explain why. You need to add a percentage onto your cost per piece as the owner of your store. Think about it, if you were paying someone to make these for you, by the time you pay for supplies and labor, there is nothing left for you. As the owner of the business, you’re the brains and your money is at risk. You deserve to be compensated as such!

So how much should you add?

There’s no right or wrong answer. If you’re a beginning artist, I would suggest 25 percent. Once you’re experienced (e.g. you’re making the items faster and with fewer mistakes), doubling this number isn’t out of the question.

This final number is now your wholesale price. (If you’re thinking, but I’m not selling wholesale, who cares, keep reading.)

This wholesale number is important because this is the number you need to make a living at making jewelry for resale. This is at the point where if another boutique or gallery walks into your studio at this exact moment, this is the price they would have to pay to buy a quantity of your jewelry. (In the wholesale business, you are going to set a minimum purchase — either in dollars or pieces — that someone needs to make in order to get that price.) My wholesale price for piece is such that I could never afford to sell a single piece at that price, but 30 pieces at that price is a reasonable sum.

Now that you have this wholesale number, your retail price needs to be at least two times this number. This is where I see the majority of jewelry makers make mistakes at pricing. They stop at the wholesale price because they’re afraid of charging too much for the jewelry. Let me give you a few arguments as to why you need to go up to this retail price:

  • Assuming that you are going to sell your jewelry at some kind of retail outlet, whether at a craft fair or online venue, you need to then think of yourself as a retailer of your product.  As a retailer, you will need to cover the expenses of your retail space (the cost of your booth at the craft fair), credit card fees, packaging costs (boxes and bags), and to be able to pay yourself to work as cashier for your store.  (If you couldn’t do it, you would have to pay someone to run the cash register.  You shouldn’t treat yourself any differently!)
  • You have the cost of maintaining an inventory.  In selling my jewelry wholesale, the majority of the pieces aren’t even made until a store places an order.  My money isn’t tied up in finished inventory just waiting for someone to call.  When you’re selling retail though, things are different.  You have invested money in a finished product that should provide you a return when it sells.  Think of it as a loan — you need to be making some interest on that loan!
  • If things go well and you decide to retail, stores are going to expect at least a 50 percent discount as a wholesale price.  Worse yet, there’s no way to make a store hate you quicker than for you to sell your jewelry cheaper on a retail level than they are.  (e.g., Don’t think you can sell a pair of earrings at wholesale for $10, then only charge $12 if someone buys them from you a craft fair.  Stores will drop you for this.)

So what happens if you get your retail number and you’re concerned that no one is going to pay that price? You have two choices:

Find a way to create value in what you are selling. If part of the reason a piece is expensive is because of the labor to form, sand and polish the bracelet, then you need to explain that to customers. No, not everyone will understand that, but those that do will appreciate the quality and be willing to pay your price. Or find a way to make your jewelry faster or cheaper. For example, when I first started making resin jewelry, I started a line of my own pendants made with sterling silver and filled with resin. As the precious metals market went crazy, so did the price I was having to charge for this line of jewelry. My wholesale accounts resisted the price increase, so I found an alternative. I took the line and made them from polished pewter. It was the same look and I was able to sell them for the price I was charging when I first started. It was a win-win for everyone!

Of course what I’ve described here isn’t a perfect fit in every situation, but I hope I have at least given you something to think about as you’re getting ready to sell your jewels!

Shared Blog Posted October 11, 2013 Katherine Swift

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