Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reader Question - Steampunk and Other Trends

Steampunk Necklace by Urbandon on Etsy
The Reader Question thread is where I pick an emailed question from a reader to share with you. I don't claim to know all the answers but I do my best to help.

Question
Celeste : Pearl, I enjoy your newsletter very much but I would like some feedback from you or clarification.

First of all, I hope that the Steampunk thing isn’t running out of steam yet, as I just purchased a couple thousand dollars worth of antiqued brass and copper findings, pewter base.  I have tons of antiqued plated silver too.  Gold color is boring and cheap looking to me.

Silverfill (only at Fire Mountain Gems) and Argentium are very limited in what you can buy.  With sterling silver fast becoming what gold used to be…do you think that consumers are going to accept that silver is no longer a junk metal?

I would be interested in some in-depth statistics as to what sells, what Trend is coming up. I am preparing to open a shop on Etsy and Artfire. I am disabled too, but I had enough backpay to invest in this.

Answer
Pearl :
When I first wrote about steampunk jewelry 3 years ago, its popularity was only just starting. You can see that rise in this Google Trends search result for "steampunk". Now that covers everything steampunk.  There is not enough data to infer how popular steampunk jewelry is but my bet is it's also on the rise as I am now coming across more tutorials and designers.


So while it hasn't lost its steam, the competition is stiffer as this jewelry style has moved into the mainstream. Designs should however remain true to the steampunk look. Regretsy did a post on many items which were really anything but.

In general, it's best to avoid buying huge stocks of anything. It pays to first test your market with different trial pieces before making more. I am often surprised at what sells because some designs are not what I would have thought to be popular. Some I thought were just the ticket, bombed! Preferences including pricing ranges also vary to some degree depending on location. So what works for say Halifax, may not work for Montreal.  I also find one's jewelry making style evolves with time and with that, different supplies may be needed. The pieces I made 5 years ago are not what I would sell today.

I do report on trends from time to time on my blog. One past post which takes a look at the future is Jewelry Trends and the Trendhunter's 2011 Top Pro Trend reports. The two biggest points I picked up from Trendhunter is the consumer move away from top designer brands to "next best" and inspirations from the past which they amusingly call "geriatric couture".  I firmly believe handmade artisans can capitalize on those two trends as we do offer that designer /custom look and many already create vintage style jewelry.

I mentioned in my past post on 5 reasons Why Online Sales are Slow that in the Great Recession, lower price points rule. People still want jewelry but will buy only what they can afford during this difficult period. Many artisans successfully work with base metals and other alternatives but they also wisely offer sterling silver (and gold) as custom options. This tactic will keep everybody happy!

Good luck with your new venture!

More Steampunk Jewelry Inspirations and Tutorials
For more tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips
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7 comments :

WildGift said...

As always, sound, researched advice. Great article Pearl.

Almost Precious said...

I hope Steampunk will be around for some time as I find myself drawn to it more and more.

I truly appreciate the advice you gave about not investing an inordinate amount on any specific supplies. I've seen jewelry designers (and admittedly myself too) invest far too much in building up a supply inventory only to realize that many items become passé or outdated. However I sure wish that I had purchased a ton of sterling silver wire and basic findings back when the silver market was at peanut prices. :)

Carol said...

Good advice Pearl. Test the market is always best. I too am surprised what sells at times. I also think that it's hard to tell in a venue like Art Fire or Etsy because there's so much competition that you can't be sure if what you have is unique enough or if it's even being seen by enough people. Hard to tell sometimes.
Carol

Dennis said...

Love the necklace! What a creative design! Just don't see too much like that

urbandon (Don Pezzano) said...

Very solid advice here. Just because a style is popular it does not mean your jewellery will sell. The market is saturated with Steampunk pieces. What used to be a niche market is now mainstream. Thanks for the image inclusion. (That piece is all found objects= low price)

Azure Islands Designs said...

Great post Pearl...I strongly agree...I test the market before I will invest a great amount of money for something "new"...you just never can tell what will be popular!

I tried selling copper products 4 years ago with out luck but last year I saw interest in copper and worked with it a bit...but...who knows what this season will bring?
Cheers

Anonymous said...

I think it's still gaining ground. I'm seeing elements of Steampunk in more and more movies. I think it will around a while, but probably only a small percentage of the market will ever be into it. (Kind of like science fiction.)

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