Am I Pricing Jewelry Right or Wrong?

by Jane Petersen.
(Madison, WI)

Am I Pricing Jewelry Right or Wrong?  Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

I’m in my third year of selling jewelry, and all of a sudden I am questioning how I price jewelry to sell.

Usually, I base my price on my costs of supplies and follow the pricing formula I have learned here.

Then I wondered if I should continue to base my price on the wholesale costs of beads and supplies. Or should I base my pricing on the retail cost to increase my profit levels?

Any information would be helpful.

I tend to think it is fairer to use my actual costs to make my jewelry more affordable to buyers, but wonder if I’m being naive.

Jane Petersen
Jane Petersen Designs

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  1. I use the formula based on the prices I actually paid and then add however much I want to profit, within reason.

    Of course, I have only been selling jewelry for one year so you might not want to take a whole lot of advice from me…

    And you have a great name!! (I am Jane, too) 😉

  2. Jane, thinking about whether your jewelry is too expensive for some people is a consideration. But instead of lowering your pricing, you might also make a less expensive line for people who can’t afford your top line.

  3. Jane, I too constantly struggle with my pricing. I go so far as to have my best friends and husband price my stuff because I tend to go to low. I usually take what I spent on my materials and double it then go from there. Sorry that’s not much help. Just wanted you to know there’s others out there that struggle with this issue too. Good luck!

  4. Jane, I usually double the price I paid for components, and add my labor costs to find my sweet spot. But, artisan jewelry is a tricky category to price-“fine” jewelry, usually sold in stores, often has an outrageous markup because it passes through so many hands to get to retail; or wiggle room for discounting is used; or a famous maker’s name is attached; or the piece’s artistry-OOAK or limited run-demands a high number. We make OOAK pieces too, but I have found that the folks who want our stuff are emphatically not 1%ers-not often anyway. So we are looking for “disposable income” that is thin on the ground. I’m still wrestling with my design direction-what I really want to make-vs trends. I just keep looking for the jewelry buyer who wants “something different”. I do sell to two galleries on consignment, where I get my price and they add their percentage-I’ve sold several pieces this way. Always fighting the urge to ‘give away’ my stuff…

  5. Rina Luban says:

    I always start with Rena’s formula (thanks Rena), but then look at the piece and sometime go a little higher or lower by gut instinct. I, too, tend to go low (or want to go low), and have been told this by friends and gallery owners alike. I am coming to terms with the fact that we HAVE TO charge for our true time and artistry. Our work is special and totally hand made from soup to nuts. That is worth a lot. Also, I sometimes see work on Etsy that I feel is totally under priced (these are pieces I know what goes into re: time and materials) and I think this really undermines the rest of us jewelry artists, something we don’t want to do!

  6. I use Rena’s pricing formula based upon the actual costs of my materials. Sometimes material costs are on the high side (like with Turquoise or Sterling) but it seems to be working. This is pretty straight forward when stringing. But when setting stones or other metalsmithing work it becomes more difficult for me to come up with a labor cost because I tend to be very slow. For that portion of the cost I usually add what seems reasonable, not some hourly rate times my very many hours. With time I hope my metal working speed will improve.

  7. Don’t forget to factor in profit. if you only pay for your time & materials & overhead, you are just meeting expenses; you have to have profit so that you are actually making money.

  8. I have had a jewelry business for the past 6 years. I have been using Rena’s formula (material cost x 4 plus my time/hr.) When I have more expensive materials, I design a more simple piece that takes less time to make to help keep price where I want it. I also charged less for my time when I started than I do now.

    I also have found that I make more profit on earrings than necklaces. I offer a large selection so I have high end pieces along with more “value” priced pieces.
    When a piece has not sold but lots of customers “touch” it, I have raised the price 10% and it usually sells within a week. Higher perceived value I believe.

  9. When in doubt, raise your price, even if it is only by $5.00 If you want to stay in business, you have to make a profit. It’s that simple.

  10. My formula is simple. I charge somewhere between 7x and 10x my components. If the stones are everyday stones like sodalite I charge 7x. If the stones are “expensive” like star rubies I charge 10x. With this method of pricing I have no problem wholesaling to stores and galleries because the profit is priced in. I also hunt for really good stones and components that are reasonable. I am a stringer first and foremost so most of my jewelry does not take long to make…but I have done some two-needle work and then I add $20 an hour for the time it takes to make the item. This is a rare occurrence for me but I do think it is notable for those of you who take several hours to make an item.
    I, too, think it is important to look at the items that you make–another set of eyes on an item is a good idea but so is cruising the local department store and see what the market is for jewelry like your own. And if there is nothing like it in your area, check the internet. You can get a good idea of what other people are getting for a like item.
    I do not sell anything for a price that is more than I would pay for it if I saw it at someone else’s booth. I have finished a piece before and when I priced it I looked at it and realized it was too expensive so I tore it apart and started over.
    A really smart artisan told me ten years ago that I should not sell a pair of SS earrings for less than $12 and I have held to that and it works. I agree with Cindi also and like to see a whole range of prices in a booth or on a display–my aforementioned $12 earrings to $80 necklaces and beyond. Of course you sell more of the cheaper items but it makes for a nice looking booth.
    Making and selling jewelry is a rewarding business, both financially and emotionally. It is a great feeling to have someone plunk down cash to buy something you made.

  11. I have a question regarding the same topic. I make jewelry using both silver plated and sterling silver components so I have a problem knowing how to price items accordingly. My biggest problem is knowing how to actually pay myself. What should I be charging for my labor? This question has always plagued me and I can’t seem to be confident in what I’m selling because I feel as though I might either be short changing myself and start believing that maybe my quality isn’t as great as others OR I feel as though I overprice things based on the feedback I get from close family and friends.

    I am desperate to learn. The confidence I have on what I do is barely there these days.

    Thank you!

  12. Hi Nallery! Use my Jewelry Pricing Formula for an easy way to figure profitable prices. Experiment with different hourly wages in the formula, and see what feels right for you. Also, friends and family may not be part of the target audience for the jewelry you make – so their thoughts on jewelry pricing may not be in line with the pieces you’re creating.

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