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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pricing Your Jewelry, Thoughts on Artisan Jewelry, New Jewelry

The Never-Ending Pricing Discussion

So… I've decided to try to practice what I preach (as far as pricing goes).

I'm a big advocate of artisans (don't get wiggie about semantics… I use "artisans" as a catch-all term to represent any of us who create things with our hands) getting a fair price for their wares.

I have often treated myself as a "hobbyist". Not that there's anything wrong with hobbyists (other than the fact they may be inadvertently undercutting the market, but that's not something I have a discussion about right now anyway).

BUT… we (btw, when I say "we" I am referring to Monica and me) don't make jewelry as a hobby… 100% for our own pleasure.

Although we THOROUGHLY enjoy making jewelry, we do need to make a profit from it.

So, back to the formulas with the materials costs and the overhead and the labor costs, etc.

Yeah, what I mean is I have to head back to my own pricing calculator. Ha ha ha!

I'm going to put prices fair to us (not outrageously in our favor by any means… merely fair to us as in we can cover our business expenses and make a small profit).

But there's something else… (this is also a change in version 3 of the pricing calculator… which I'm sending out free to all previous owners of it).

We have some of our work in a boutique and at an online consignment venue. When one sells at these types of places (also galleries), one must make sure NOT to undercut those selling venues.

If I sold a necklace to a gallery for at a wholesale price of $100 and they list it for $200 (standard formula), I can't sell that same design in my store for $150. It would piss off the gallery to know I'm undercutting them… and it would piss off any customer who bought from the gallery and then sees the same thing cheaper somewhere else.

So, as a business person, it is my responsibility to not undercut my own products (if I want to keep selling in galleries and boutiques, that is).

At first, I had a smidge of a problem thinking about the fact that if I sell to a gallery or boutique, I sell it for my wholesale price… but if I'm NOT selling to a gallery or boutique… if I'm keeping a piece to try to sell by myself, I want something closer to my retail price. That just seemed like too much discrepancy in price. It seemed odd in light of the fact that retail is pretty much twice the wholesale price.

But then I realized all the things I have to do if I retail my own pieces, versus what I don't have to do if I wholesale a piece.

Basically wholesale is the bottom price you would or could sell a piece for. It's like materials cost plus labor plus overhead plus profit (I use a pretty small profit calculation). BUT… if that's all you did… make the piece… then it makes sense that you could sell it for wholesale and continue to make profit.

However, if after you make the piece, you spend time photographing it, writing up a description, listing it online, taking it to shows, etc… all that stuff costs money (don't forget that time is also money). Sometimes a LOT of money.

So yeah, you'd better be getting the full retail price if you're doing all that.

If, however, you are basically having someone else sell the piece for you, then it's kind of like you're paying them for their time, their shop space, their marketing, etc.

Okay, that's all I had to say on that subject for the moment. Just… get serious about not underselling yourself.

About Creating

One of the other things I was musing about this past weekend had to do with the process of creating art (shall I say "art' or shall I say "things?).

I don't like being an extremist, but I think on this one I'm leaning pretty far in one direction. I can't say yet WHY… but I can say I'm following my intuition.

When you buy something (okay, fine… I'm going to use the word "art"… we are not open to discussion about the semantic use of that word in this blog), you may first be attracted to it based on your immediate reaction to its design. After that, I've noticed that I have another sense (intuition or snobbery, you be the judge) that tells me how I "feel" about the piece.

I see a lot of costume jewelry in department stores that looks really cool (design-wise, color-wise, etc) at first (and distant) glance. But upon closer inspection the pieces look like carp. Poorly made (aka will fall apart before too long), imitation-looking, glass rather than crystal, plastic rather than gems… stuff like that.

It just doesn't make me happy. I want to wear jewelry that makes me happy. So aside from quality materials, I want quality craftsmanship. And taking it even one step further, I want as much of the piece to have been made by hands… real hands… hands touching the beads, metals, etc.

I don't know if there's a vibrational difference or if it's all in my head, but I will always opt for a handmade anything over a perfectly formed machine-made something.

Just to know that someone took the time to file the edges, buff the metals, shape the beads, etc.... that's something that really appeals to me.

I also try to choose my own jewelry tools wisely. I've see quite a few ads recently for machines that do things as shortcuts to the jewelry-making process. Now, I'm not saying I want to use sharpened stones to do all my work, but I also don't want a machine that will form a clasp for me.

Know what I mean?

So… since I want to BUY jewelry and beads from people who had a lot of personal, physical input into what they made… it stands to reason that that's the kind of jewelry I'd want to be MAKING too.

I've always had great fortune with my customer base and I think I will continue to attract the kinds of people who, like me, want jewelry made by hands. Happy hands. :-)

Opal… MMMmmm…

BTW, I'm distracted by a ring I'm wearing today. It's one I'm borrowing from my mom… it's five bands of gold with small 2-3mm gemstones on each band. The center stone is an Opal and there's a sliver of sun shining right on it and wow… it's just so amazing, sparkly and colorful. VERY different from all the fake Opal I see on a monthly basis.

New Jewelry

We listed a few things recently…

Sunrise Colors One of a Kind Enamel Sections Copper Bracelet Upcycled

Purple Swarovski Crystals and Cultured Pearls in Loaded Sterling Silver Charm Bracelet

Understated Sterling Silver Bangle Wire-Wrapped with Tiny Lapis, Agate, and Carnelian Beads

That's it for now. Hope to have some new items to show you after the weekend.

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