Home » Artwork » Beads » Thoughts on jewelry making – price and selling.

Thoughts on jewelry making – price and selling.

It is really hard to price my work. Do I price it based on how much I love it, how much the materials cost, or how much I think I can get for it? Often it is a combination of all of these.
Sometimes I have something I call “the annoyment factor” to deal with. In part that refers to how annoying it was to make. Either it took me a lot of time because the process is fiddly or the materials are hard to work with. Stringing things on Tigertail is easy and cheap. Using the same beads but using copper wire, where I have to hand link is hard. I love making jewelry this way but very few people appreciate the labor involved.
Sometimes the annoying part is the person. The beads might be inexpensive and the process might be easy, but the person might be difficult. Sometimes it costs me a lot of energy to deal with certain people. I want to be reimbursed for that. Sometimes I don’t want to ever deal with that person again and so I put a high price on my work.
Sometimes I have the “don’t blink” price. I’ll have a really high price on something and I know that the people looking at it don’t know what was involved. For instance, I made a bead once that looked like a woman. Because I was working with MAPP gas and not oxy-propane it was even more difficult. I had only 40 minutes to finish it, rather than hours. I could only make it an inch long. There are a lot of limitations working with that medium, but it is a lot safer and cheaper than the other. People tried to bargain down the price I quoted and I didn’t budge. I stood with the price because I knew the amount of effort involved.
I don’t make jewelry as my job. I do it for fun. I’d like to get at least the price of the beads back. I certainly want to get paid for my time and my creativity. I’d also appreciate getting paid for my knowledge too.
I put a lot of energy into making jewelry. I read books about beads and gemstones. I know the hidden meaning and I’m aware of the history and energy behind the beads. I don’t just string beads. I create. I shape. I like to think of it as something like a shaman’s work. When I’m making something for a specific person I match the beads to them not just by color but by intent. For instance, a bead may be black, but it is also made of lava, and as such has deep significance.
One time a guy was asking about the price of some beads I had made. I used to do lampworking, so these were unique beads. He had an assortment of them picked out. I wanted to give him a good price that was fair to both of us. Because I’d made them at work the only investment I had in them was my time and ability. The glass and gas were free to me. I said “How about $23?” He countered with “How about $20? He thought when I said “How about…” that meant that there was wiggle room, but he was wrong. I got very cold and said “How about $25?” That surprised him. I don’t like being insulted about my work. I’d given him a very reasonable price, in fact far too low for the time I’d spent.
I don’t really want to take the time necessary to teach people about beads. I want them to appreciate the value that they have, but they don’t. In order to get the price I’m asking I have to teach them and be patient. I got great prices when I bought necklaces at thrift stores and then redesigned them. A 25¢ necklace could be remade into a $15 necklace with a little time and a few extra beads. But now I’m going to bead shows and getting strands that are imported and sometimes antique, so the prices have to go up. I don’t have a wholesale license, and I really don’t want one. That would take some of the fun out of it.
One person messaged me about a necklace on my Etsy page. She wanted me to either drop the shipping cost or lower the price of the necklace. If the necklace had been full price I would have worked with her, but it was just $5 over the price of the beads as it was. My shopping charge isn’t high. It is the price of the packing material and the average shipping price. I decided that I would rather not sell it at all than feel like I’m being insulted.
Some shops on Etsy offer free shipping but really nothing is free. The cost is always factored in somewhere. I’d rather be honest and charge a fair shipping charge than have to raise my prices to cover it.
Sometimes people want a high price. They think it has more value if it is high. Maybe I should raise all my prices so people value my work. They certainly aren’t buying as is – I might as well get a good price when they do. Perhaps they will take my work seriously if it costs more.
Then sometimes people will want to trade beads for beads. I’ll do this occasionally, but they better be beads I can use. Plastic beads are never considered. Weird shapes, the same. Otherwise I have beads that I can’t use taking up space in my bins.
Consignment is the worst. I understand how it benefits the shop – they don’t have to pay anything for the merchandise until it sells. Too often, I get stuff lost or stolen, and I’m out money. It requires too much effort to keep up with.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on jewelry making – price and selling.

    • It is Beaded Retort. Thanks for asking! Here’s a link to it – http://BeadedRetort.etsy.com

      I don’t have a lot up there- I need minions : ) I love to create, but photographing, uploading, describing, and packaging and shipping are all really boring for me. I loved it when I was in college and I could walk around with a metal cookie tin full of my jewelry and just sell it with no fuss.

      On Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 11:13 PM, betsybeadhead


      • Lovely work! And you’re right – very few shoppers can truly comprehend the real amount of time, money and ‘labour’ (even if it is one of love) that you put into your art. Your prices seem very reasonable to me. 🙂


      • Thank you for your kind words : )

        The funny thing to me is that I started writing this blog to explain some of my jewelry. Some of it had a lot more meaning than was obvious. But then I couldn’t figure out how to post pictures so I just started writing. I’ve since figured out how to post pictures but I still write about whatever strikes my fancy.

        On Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 4:34 PM, betsybeadhead


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