Hope Strength Necklace

My Hard And Fast Rules For Making (And Selling) Jewelry

No matter what you do, or how you do it, you need to have a few rules to guide you. As a big fan of free-form, spontaneous, “what would happen if we did/used/added this…” school of jewelry making, you’d think I wouldn’t follow any rules.
But you’d be wrong.
I don’t have a lot of rules…but I stick to them (99.9% of the time.) And I don’t necessarily think that my rules are right for anyone else. They’re just rules that seem to work for me.
So here they are – in no particular order.
Leave your workspace clean/straightened up.
Now I know that I am not alone among most craftspeople who don’t work just on one project at a time, but several. Which means different piles of “stuff.” What I try to do at the end of day (or night) is put all those little piles in a container, hopefully with a lid, or at the very least, stacked neatly atop another container.

Small containers for each project, extra beads, etc.

Small containers for each project, extra beads, etc.

Put your tools away. This is really Part B of above. There can be nothing worse than going to reach for a certain tool and not being able to find it. Or having your basset puppy begin gnawing on it. I keep hammers/files and tools I don’t use all the time in a 3-drawer cart under my work table. I can reach out and grab what I want practically without looking, because I know where my tools “live.” The pliers and cutters that I use all the time sit on top of my desktop in a partitioned carry box. Saws, Dremel, vises, clamps, etc are on shelves next to the work top.

Gemstones etc are labelled and stored in this container that sits on my work table.

Gemstones etc are labelled and stored in this container that sits on my work table.

Label and File Away Wire and Gemstones This one took me a while to do. I order/buy a lot of supplies. And while I think I can guesstimate how much items cost, I often guess much lower than actual cost. Now, especially with gemstones, I put them in a tiny baggie, and mark WHAT it is (yeah, I forget that too) and HOW MUCH it cost. This is invaluable when trying to price out finished jewelry pieces. I store my gemstones in a multi-drawer plastic storage unit I picked up at Lowe’s for about $20 or so. 

Non-precious metallic wires are stored in another Lowe’s container that I attached to the wall above my worktop.

This container is attached to the wall and holds my non-precious silver plated  wires

This container is attached to the wall and holds my non-precious silver plated wires

Precious metals (including solid copper) are stored in an accordian-file folder, labelled by type and size. This also serves to keep the sterling wire out of the light and air.

Only Make Things You Like And If You Really Don’t Like It – Start Over.

This probably my most important rule. I don’t expect everyone to have the same taste as me. But if my gut tells me it’s not right – for whatever reason – chances are other people are going to think it’s not right too. I often make things that I would want to wear – and I do – before they go on sale, or if they aren’t selling. But even if I make something that I may consider too “girly girly” for my tastes…or not “my colors”…as long as it is well made, unique, and interesting… it’s okay to put up for sale.

Price It Fairly – For You AND Your Customer

Hand Forged Copper and Silver Filled Sheet Metal with Moonstone Pendant

Hand Forged Copper and Silver Filled Sheet Metal with Moonstone Pendant

My husband always tells me “you’re not charging enough.” But in my world, I’m right on target. I’m not looking to win the million dollar derby with one sale. But I’m also not a big fan of losing money on materials and time. (Yes – the time it takes to create a piece of jewelry comes with a price tag.) So I usually roughly add up my material cost, double or triple it, and add in a bit for my time.The true test is – does it sell at that price point? Am I making  a lot of the same type of item – and is it selling quickly? If so, then it’s time to raise the price a bit.

Well, that’s about it for me. I’d love to hear what some of YOUR rules are!

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