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Gloria-Jean Browne : Jewelry – Custom Vs Production Pieces

Designing Bead Jewelry: One-of-a-kind Vs Production Pieces

By Gloria-Jean Browne

In designing bead jewelry, many jewelry designers feel that they are true "artists" if they only design and produce one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. Yes they may feel like they are true artists but they are probably also "starving artists" as well.

Unless you are a well known designer or are able to design and produce pieces very quickly while still creating a unique and quality product, it can be difficult to sell one-of-a-kind items and still make a profit. This is only because they can be very expensive to produce and you must charge a higher ticket price to recover your designing costs.

Designing bead jewelry as in one-of-a-kind pieces results in higher costs not only from the cost of materials used (because its hard to justify the purchasing of bulk materials when you are only making one item from it), but also the cost of the designing time involved. As you already know, your time spent in designing an item makes up the majority of the cost in producing it. The time necessary for planning, experimentation and the development of your idea are all part of your designing costs.

For example, say it took you a total of 7 hours to plan, experiment and develop an idea, in other words designing time. If you charge $15 an hour for labor you would calculate your designing time at $105 (7 x $15). If you were to use this time to produce only one item, then you would have to add $105 to the cost of making it, plus any materials used, the labor in finishing it, and of course your overhead, profit and selling costs.

Let's break this down into your pricing formula to see how much it would cost for you to make only one item.

design time $105
materials $28
labor (say it took you three hours to actually make and finish the item, 3 x $15) $45
overhead $8

Total production cost $186
Profit (15% of production cost) $27.90

Wholesale Price = $213.90

Your one-of-a-kind unique jewelry item is now valued at over $200, and that's only your wholesale price.

For a production item, the designing cost can be spread over a number of pieces keeping the per-item cost lower. Using the same example above lets see how much the cost would be if your were to use that same design to produce say 35 production items. First you divide your designing time by the amount of items you plan to produce $105 divide 35 = $3. Each item will cost you $3 in designing time.

Let's again break this down into your pricing formula to see how much it would cost for you to make 35 pieces of the same design:

design time $3
materials $17.50
labour (2 x $15) $30
overhead $8

Total Production Cost $58.50
Profit (15% of production cost) $8.75

Wholesale Price = $67.25

Notice that your material costs are less because you are now able to order the materials needed in quantity at a lower cost. And because you are producing in quantity (in an assembly line style) your labor is also lower cutting your production time down to two hours. You profit margin is still at 15% but charged less per production piece. The total cost of this same design produced 35 times is now only $67.25. A price which a larger market can absorb.

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