How do I set my jewellery prices? Now, there’s the million dollar question… Please don’t panic, despite what you may have read on other pages, my jewellery prices are nowhere near the million dollar mark!
Finding Jewellery Prices
If you have already been browsing this site, then you may have noticed that not all my jewellery collection has prices. Let me backtrack a little and explain that this is partly to do with the way I sell my jewellery. You can get the full lowdown on that here. For now, let me just say, I sell all my finished jewellery through third party outlets. What you see in the jewellery collection on here will link you to those outlets where appropriate, so you can make a purchase. However, some of the items are simply for display. This means I haven’t priced them. If, however, you are looking at any of those items and would like to know a price, just contact me. You can see from the custom designs page that I will make items to order as well.
So, having established that, let me turn back to the original question…
A Little Story
Let me tell you a little story. I had been pondering the question of jewellery prices. If you have ever thought about selling jewellery that you have made, then you will have pondered this question as well. I even wrote a blog about my ponderings, in order to try and bring some clarity to my thoughts. When I found myself just as confused as ever, I turned to the beading community on Facebook.
I shared the little video that you may already have seen here. (If you haven’t, then you can find it at the bottom of the ‘Beading’ page, here). I then posed the question as to how I should price my jewellery. Well, let me tell you, I received a lot of answers and a lot of different opinions. I am happy to find out that I’m not the only one who has this internal debate. So, since I like to be transparent, let me share the answers with you. I hope it sets you thinking too!
Jewellery Prices Economic Model
I had a set of answers to my conundrum that were all around the basic economics of pricing. You may or may not be aware, there is a formula for setting prices for any goods. This takes into account the cost of the goods, plus the need for them to bring in some money to cover general business overheads. The formula goes something like this: cost of materials + cost of labour + overheads. You may find a ‘profit’ mark-up in there somewhere, but this should just be a contribution towards overheads.
So, if I apply that to my jewellery, it’s simple. I need to work out how much I spent on the beads and thread, clasps, wire, any other materials. I note how many hours I spent creating the piece. Economists have various thoughts on how to allocate money for overheads, so I can pick one of those economic theories.
The Flaws in the Plan
The debate comes with the labour cost. Firstly, how do I determine the hours I spent? Do I include the hours that I spent ‘thinking’ and ‘designing’, or just the hours when I was actually stitching beads together? Secondly, how much do I charge for my time? That should be a no-brainer: anything upwards of minimum wage. Perhaps I find a career that I think could be equivalent in terms of skill level. Then see what wages are for that, then use that figure for my own payment. Perhaps I ask other jewellery makers what they charge per hour.
The problem comes when I add all this together. As you browse my collection, you will see I have noted the time taken to make each piece. Take one of the pieces that took 120 hours to make. Even if I charge just £10 an hour (only slightly above minimum wage in the UK, so an amount that is usually paid for unskilled labour), that puts the price at £1200. Then add on the cost of the beads and the profit margin. Is this price realistic? It is ‘fair’ in terms of reflecting what went into the project, but would anyone actually pay it in reality?
Intuitive Jewellery Prices
Now we come to the second school of thought. A whole host of other answers to my Facebook post suggested that the price I charge should be the amount of money for which I am prepared to part with the piece. Again, that’s not an easy sum to determine.
I have a natural sense of justice and I feel that I should be paid what the item cost if life is fair. However, life is not fair. So, maybe I think about it in old terms: bartering. Maybe I start to think, I would like to raise the money to buy a new dress. Maybe I try to do this through selling one large item, or several smaller items. I set the jewellery prices accordingly. If I were doing this as a hobby, then I could think in those terms. The money I earn from selling jewellery would be some sort of ‘bonus’ that I can spend on treats.
The reality is, I do this for a living. So, if I am thinking about bartering, I am actually going to be thinking more along the lines of: ‘I need to sell that piece of jewellery in order to buy my food.’
Jewellery Prices from the Customer’s Perspective
A third group of people gave me answers relating to the customer. These people reminded me that my real customers will be prepared to pay the ‘fair’ price because they understand the value of what they are buying. There is a tangible value in the materials. The value of my time is more intangible: you are buying the benefits of the thousands of hours that I have spent honing my skills. You are also buying a little piece of me. Every item of jewellery has sprung from my imagination, my perspective on the world around me. Are you are looking at my collection and finding yourself relating to it? If so, then you are actually buying a connection with another human being. How do you put a price on that?
Some of you lovely people will intuitively understand all that I have written here. You won’t need to have read it. Some of you may not have thought about this before. For some, this may change your perspective on all the items you buy. For others, you will still want to buy that cheap bauble from the high street. Whatever you desire, all I ask is that you enjoy your jewellery – even if it is just browsing my collection.