Designing is not usually a problem for fledgling artisans who are starting to market their jewelry. However, arguably the single most important question that pops up is "What should I charge?" The process of finding the right pricing range is perhaps a trial and error process but here are some tips to avoid from the outset.

1. Underpricing

Asking for the right price is important for the designer wishes to be compensated for the materials, the time and the skill required to produce the piece. Yet, he or she shouldn't be giving it away either. Bear in mind that if you start too low, it is harder to raise prices after that than to lower high ones. People do not appreciate rising costs as much as they like what is perceived as a discount.

Some sellers are afraid to price higher because they are fearful the items won't sell. This hurts all artisans as the buying public becomes habituated to low prices. Many people are still of the mindset that handmade equates to homemade. They regard homemade as the stuff you make when you can't afford to buy store items. There is clearly a need to educate many to custom jewelry making. If they can appreciate haute couture clothing then surely they appreciate one of a kind jewelry but not if items are under priced.

This website lists a number of different pricing formulae. The most commonly used method involves tripling the material costs and adding the hourly labour costs. It is a useful yardstick but remember other factors come into play like particular local market preferences, your experience and so on.

2. Underestimating time

Eyeballing prices isn't usually recommended because of the risk of underestimating time. Some artisans keep spreadsheets or some sort of record keeping method to keep track of what is involved in the creation of a piece. Need some help? Chris Parry who is an Etsian, has a spreadsheet to download (no longer free)There are also professional software packages available if your budget allows.

3. Not allowing for wholesale or discounts

When first starting out, most artisans are just focused on landing that first few sales. They rarely think ahead. What if you become successful enough that you now have loyal customers who buy many pieces and you wish to keep them coming back for more? Although it is not for everyone, doing wholesale is also another situation where discounts come in. Wholesale could be quite lucrative for moving large amounts of your inventory.

In either case, that discount level should be built into your original price in the first place. If you are going with the exact pricing structure you first developed without this breathing room, you will thus lose money when you do have to give discounts. One suggested formula is to drop the 3x materials cost down to 2x for wholesale.'s pithy comments on dealing with wholesalers and shop owners is worth a read.

4. Agreeing to consignment

After pricing, the next big question for artisans is "Where the heck do I sell my jewelry?". Doing consignment is not wrong. Many artisans do make a go of it and successfully. However, there are a myriad different things to be aware of like having to track your jewelry and keeping it looking shiny with that "Buy me " sparkle when you're not there to take care of it. How much better it would be if the shop owner just bought your jewelry outright? It's sold then and there. End of story.

If you still want to go the consignment route, a good place to do some research is Rena Klingenberg's website page on Selling Jewelry Wholesale and on Consignment.

5. Forgetting overheads

This one is often missed. It is not just time making your jewelry but many things. The time you spend selling, making and printing out cards, cost of the cards, the shipping charge levied on your materials, storage containers, gas for the car when you are out delivering jewelry or buying supplies and so on all add up. So factor in a small but appropriate % rate per item to cover this expense. A pricing formula which takes this into account is found here.

6. Neglecting market research

Some basic market research is required. Check out what your local competitors are charging. Check out what online handcrafted jewelry is going for. Check many places and many sources and come to your own conclusion what is right for you and the market you are targeting.

Tips for pricing your jewelry
How do I price my handmade jewelry?
How to price your wire jewelry for wholesale or retail business
How to effectively price your jewelry designs
How to price handcrafted jewelry
The Beading Gem's Journal