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Dale here again– I receive many emails and questions through our Tip of the Day program asking questions about pricing, so I decided to address them in this article.

Please keep in mind that the following methods are not “set in stone,” as many people have their own formulas that work well for them. Rather, this is how both my personal students and I price our work. Note: none of us sell wholesale, as we are artists, not manufacturers.

Pricing is always the most difficult part of any art form, and jewelry is the hardest to determine, as there are so many ways to price. When you are making and selling jewelry in today’s economy, you may not be able to receive the compensation you fully deserve, but you should be able to survive if you price correctly for your area.

Most hobbyists (those who make pieces as a way to relax and to obtain a little extra cash) will take the price of their materials and multiply by 3. Weekend craft show warriors (who participate in shows close to home, so there is no added expense of hotels) often multiply the cost of their materials by 5. Many of my personal students will multiply their materials cost by 3 and then add a realistic hourly rate for their time, beginning at $10/hr. Please note, this time does not include any learning curve; rather, when you can make a piece without hesitation and no mistakes, that amount of time is what we charge for.

As you become more proficient with your skills, and the piece is made more quickly, then you are increasing your rate of pay per hour. Example: when beginning, an about-perfect bangle takes you 3 hours to create at $10/hr. Later, with experience, the same quality piece takes just an hour, and you have increased your rate of pay to $30/hr.

Of course, special pieces deserve special prices, such as a one-of-a-kind pendant or ring with the only stone “cut just like that,” for which you can ask whatever you like. If your one-of-a-kind piece sits in your case for a year and is well-behaved, it doesn’t eat anything, so it doesn’t matter if it sells immediately or not. If you set a special stone in a serious metal such as 14k or 18k, same scenario; I would just as soon not sell it than give it away.

To be able to sell your pieces in today’s “I want it for nothing” world, you need to get them out there. Here is the link to an article I wrote to give you ideas for sales venues: Where to Sell Your Wire Jewelry.

When displaying your work, no matter where, be sure divide your jewelry inventory into percentages of items priced according to the potential market.

For example, try having:

  • 20% of your items priced from $20 and under (for example, headpin earrings or little bead rings, made with crystals or unusual gemstone beads like agates and jaspers)
  • 30% priced from $48 to $25 (wrapped crystals, more elaborate earrings, regular cab pendants, etc)
  • 30% priced from $85 to $48, and
  • 20% priced specialty items from $90 and up.

It’s also smart to have a few designer pieces (priced wherever you want) to show just what you are capable of. Not only will these will attract higher-end customers, but also may catch the eye of gallery owners, etc.

Often, my specialty and designer pieces attract more sales because folks would really love to have one but can’t afford it at the time, so they purchase a lower priced item just so they can take a piece of my work home. I always have several of these customers return the following year, looking for me, because they are now ready for a special purchase or a custom order.

Unfortunately, there is no one, single pricing formula that will work for everyone. My advice is to test the waters to see what your potential customers are willing to pay, and go from there.

One last thing–don’t just give your pieces away! For example, someone attempts to convince you that the bracelet you have invested $30 worth of materials and 2 hours of your time in is not worth more than $35, and that you need to sell it to them! Don’t listen to that. Personally, I have had to remove items and put them in my pocket to end an occasional situation such as this.

Remember, Inspiration comes from every Where and every Thing!

-Dale/Cgr

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