Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pricing Our Work

If there is anything that jewelry sellers dislike more than photographing and listing their items, it has to be pricing them.  We all know how much an item cost us in materials and even those who don't keep track of how long they've worked on a piece usually have a vague idea of how much labor should cost.  So why is it SO hard to price our work?

  • Selling on a venue such as eBay or Etsy has driven down the value of handmade items due to the unfair competition from mass-produced items.
  • Potential buyers don't value handmade items.
  • We don't trust that buyers are willing to pay what our work is actually worth.
  • We often devalue our own work because we wouldn't be willing to pay what it's actually worth.  It's been said that we are often the worst judge of our work's true value because we may not fit the profile of our "ideal customer".  Our own work may be out of our price range.
  • Selling across a variety of venues such as online, in galleries, and at markets can be difficult.  We have to price our items high enough to allow for commissions when they are sold in galleries which can raise prices to the point that buyers on online venues and at markets are no longer interested.

You might be asking yourself what made me start thinking about this and decide to write a post.  As I stood in line at Target a few evenings ago, I noticed the costume jewelry display.  I had never looked at their jewelry so, I was shocked to see that the silver plated earrings were priced so high.  I couldn't believe that factory-made, plated earrings were selling for just under $20 to almost $30 a pair.  What I realized was that my lowest end earrings are priced at or slightly under the price of factory-made junk and I still get price complaints.

In my experience, buyers frequently confuse art and craft markets for flea markets and want items priced accordingly.  How should we combat this problem?


  1. This is such a great post. Definitely something we al struggle with. I wish there were an easy answer, but I think all we can do is continue to educate shoppers about our process, what makes our jewelry not only beautiful, but durable and comfortable, and remind them that we stand behind our work. That expertise to make quality jewelry - at any price point - takes years to cultivate and is valuable!

    1. Thanks, Julie. It really is a tough process but the more that we all continue to educate shoppers, the better it will be for the newer jewelry designers who follow us.

      I wish that fashion magazines weren't always pushing the cheap (and even knock-off) items to young women. It indoctrinates them early into the idea that jewelry is supposed to be cheap, trendy, and last a season.

    2. I absolutely agree. The magazines definitely have a responsibility to promote US made quality goods. Maybe we need to start doing some freelance articles! I couldn't believe that for the last issue Stringing magazine was promoting mass produced lampwork.

  2. I had no idea about Stringing magazine. I only subscribe to Art Jewelry and Metal Clay Artist so, that is news to me. I think the advertising department needs to really think about their subscribers and the likelihood that many use artisan lampwork and a fair number make them, too.

  3. I know i am way late to this post, but....I think we also have to gently educate other artists who are undervaluing their work. I often gently creep up on my soap box with new makers who are underpricing themselves. Underpircing hurts their future and the rest of us in the market too.

    1. You're right but it's hard. The worst part is when potential customers want to educate me regarding prices. They see items that are being sold as handmade but are reseller items and they think that it's their right to inform me that *my* prices are way too high. I want to strangle the resellers and they are at every market. The people who run the markets are notoriously inept at spotting reseller junk or simply don't care of fake crap is being sold as handmade.