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Gloria-Jean Browne : How to Price Your Handcrafted Jewelry

How to Price Your Handcrafted Jewelry

By Gloria-Jean Browne

As a jewelry designer, deciding what prices to ask for your pieces may be one of the hardest chores you face and also one of the most neglected and least understood areas of business.

Learning how to price your handcrafted jewelry is the key to profitability and requires much thought as well as computation. I cannot tell you what your prices should be, but I can tell you how to go about setting prices in a business like manner in order to reach your greatest profits.

Some jewelry designers figure that they are doing fine if they cover the cost of their materials and make a little extra to cover the cost of their time. Their formula for pricing might look like this:

MATERIALS + LABOR = PRICE

If you don't intend on making any money in your business this formula is fine, but if you want to be self-supporting and make a profit too, then using this formula is totally unrealistic and probably won't even allow you to break even.

A typical situation can be illustrated by the plight of a jewelry designer who produces beautiful Swarovski bracelets. Her cost is six dollars each. She feels that a markup of 50% will pay for her labor profitably.

Thus her bracelets are priced at $9.00 each, and she honestly believes that she has done a good jog of pricing. In fact, the whole arrangement seems great. She produces and sells a lot of Swarovski bracelets from her home studio.

As business volume increases, however, she realizes that she is spending so much time ringing up sales, that she is not producing any bracelets. If she hires someone to handle sales, her costs will certainly increase. If she continues to cope with it herself then her production will go down. At about that time, she realizes that she has not based her prices correctly.

Of course, if our jewelry designer discovered that she did not have customers coming to her home studio, she might consider that the local craft show would be the place to sell her bracelets. Upon reading the entry requirements, however, she learns that the craft show charges a booth fee, as well as rent on a table and chair.

In addition, the jewelry designer has to consider the setting up and dismantling of the booth, transport to and from the show, and breakage as well as her time attending the show — time that she might have spent designing bracelets.

Any price increase that this jewelry designer considers will not be small. Will the radical change in prices mean that her bracelets are so expensive that no one will buy them?

At this point, the jewelry designer wonders how she went so far astray in her pricing. Unfortunately, she started at the wrong point, and many of her assumptions were incorrect. Her original retail price (cost + labour) was completely unreal.

If the purpose of selling your handmade jewelry is to enable you to become self-supporting, it is vital when figuring costs that you clarify all the costs involved in doing business.

There are two stages to price your handcrafted jewelry. The first stage is to figure out your wholesale price and the second stage to is to add your selling costs to arrive at a retail price.

Figuring Wholesale Prices

As a jewelry manufacturer the first stage you must consider are the costs involved in producing the product. Your pricing formula should look something like this:

MATERIALS + LABOR + OVERHEAD + PROFIT
= WHOLESALE PRICE

Examining each of these costs in your formula should give you a better appreciation of the complexities of pricing.

  • Cost of Materials — The total cost of all raw materials and finishing products used in making an article. Your jewelry business cannot offer competitive prices or become profitable unless you are able to buy supplies and raw materials at wholesale prices. Obtaining the materials you need when you need them, and at good prices, is vital to your pricing and your profits. You want the lowest prices for the best quality materials.

    Also keep track of all your finishing items such as jump rings, crimps, finishes such as paint and polishes, even the glue and thread you used. The amounts of these things used may seem insignificant per item produced, but you'll be amazed at how much they can add up to over a year or even a couple of months.
  • Labor Costs — In figuring labor costs, you will have to set up an hourly wage for yourself. The decision as to what your time is worth is actually a very personal one. The per/hour figure will not be based so much on the going rate as it is on your education and skill, as well as your experience and reputation.

    You can decide on a minimum which you would accept, but remember that you should actually be able to live on this minimum wage whether in reality you have to or not. Right now you may be only working at your business part-time for a little extra income, but some day you may want to make it your full-time career.
  • Overhead Costs — Above and beyond the cost of materials and labor, which are directly related to the jewelry you produce, you must also consider all the costs of being in business. You will have these costs whether or not you make or sell anything. Your automobile, rent, insurance premiums, telephone bills and utilities still have to be paid whether you are away at craft shows or working all night to finish an order. This is a very neglected area in most home businesses, and if you fail to take overhead into consideration, it can eat up your profits.

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