Custom Jewelry Manufacturing

How to Get
Your Jewelry Design Mass-Produced

by Rena Klingenberg.

Custom jewelry manufacturing means having your original jewelry design mass-produced so you can sell multiple copies of it.

Many jewelry artists go this route when they’re ready to start wholesaling their work, realizing that they can’t produce enough copies of their designs all by themselves.

Or when they have a brilliant idea for an item like a pendant or charm that has mass appeal – but they realize that they can’t possibly create hundreds or thousands of copies of it alone.

So they either hire their own team of workers to create multiples of the jewelry items, or they outsource the mass-production of these items to a company that specializes in this kind of manufacturing.

When Should You Start Considering
Custom Jewelry Manufacturing?

As soon as you realize you’re going to need multiples of an item made – even if only on a small scale – it’s a good idea to start looking for ways to outsource the production.

Why? Because the growth of your jewelry business will be limited if you’re spending most of your time as a one-person mass production line.

Remember, you’re the creative visionary of your jewelry business. Your time and energy shouldn’t be used up on repetitive activities that someone else could do with a bit of training.

So instead of making all the multiples of your designs yourself, you should free up your time to focus on being the creative force of your business.

Your time is better spent on coming up with new designs and developing the connections and opportunities that make your business grow.

Here are some ways you can outsource the production of your jewelry designs.

Outsourcing Your
Custom Jewelry Manufacturing Locally

Many experts recommend that you start outsourcing your production as close as possible to where you live, where it’s much easier to work out any issues involved in mass-producing your items, fine-tuning your products, and working out your systems.

Getting Help in Your Local Area

If you need just a few people to help you with mainly basic tasks like assembly, hand-tool work, and packaging, a good first step is to look for people in your town who can help with your production:

  • Depending on what you need to have done, you may find that local moms, teens, college students, or retired people are just right for the job.
  • Try networking with other jewelry artists or crafters in your area; when they have downtime, they may welcome the opportunity to earn extra money by doing some of your production work – and they likely already have some of the skills you need.
  • You might also check with local colleges (especially the art department) for potential workers. You may even be able to offer internship opportunities to students, so they can learn some business skills and get valuable experience while helping you out with mass production.

Outsourcing Elsewhere in Your Country

If your jewelry mass-production work involves more specialized equipment or skills, you might check with your country’s Department of Economic Development.

Also try any industrial organizations that might be related to the work you need to have done.

In the United States,
You Can Check These Resources:

  • Your state’s dept of economic development.
  • The Thomas Register.
  • National Association of Manufacturers.
  • MJSA (Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America).
  • Go to a library or bookstore and check the display ads and classified ads in jewelry making / jewelry industry magazines; you may find a company that’s advertising services similar to what you’re looking for.
  • Melindesign Jewelry Assembly / Outsource (you can also read more about Melindesign and peek behind the scenes in Melindesign Jewelry Outsource).
  • You may also be interested in exploring Ponoko, an online marketplace “where creators, digital fabricators, materials suppliers and buyers meet to make (almost) anything.”

As you’ll see in a moment, even if the price quotes for having your products manufactured in your country are higher than having them produced overseas, it may still be cheaper in the long run to choose a manufacturer in your own country.

Problems and Challenges
with Overseas Jewelry Manufacturing

Many businesses assume that the best, cheapest route to custom jewelry manufacturing will be outsourcing it to a company in another country.

Although you may get the lowest per-piece price quote from a factory in another country, there are a lot of potential hidden costs and issues to be aware of before you make a deal with a factory overseas.

For example:

  • You’ll have to deal with the costs, paperwork, and time lags involved with tariffs, duties, and international shipping.
  • There will probably be differences in language, culture, holidays, expectations, and time zones between you and the foreign-based factory. Any of these differences can make business communication more challenging.
  • Quality control of your jewelry items is much harder when you’re half a world away from where your products are being made, and can’t just pop in to check up on things periodically.
  • The farther you are from where your production is taking place, the slower and harder it is to:

1. implement changes

2. do any customization

3. discover defective products and have them re-made.

  • If your jewelry item becomes suddenly popular, it will take you longer to get the extra quantities of it manufactured to meet your demand. And you’ll spend a lot more money to have the extra supply of products rushed to you. Rushing shipments via air can cancel out any lower pricing from overseas production.
  • Lack of in-person communication and visits to the factory give you less control, and increase the possibility of things not being done to your standards.
  • You may find yourself asked to pay for additional permits and fees – and sometimes even for “protection” of your products and interests there.
  • You may rack up international travel costs with visits to the factory where your production is done.
  • Shipments of your jewelry items may be delayed, waiting for multiple batches to ship together for a lower cost.

Of course, these issues can take up a lot of extra time for you to resolve. And that means either:

  • You now have less time to spend on other, more profitable activities for your business.
  • Or you add the expense of hiring someone you can trust to handle these offshore production issues for you.

Another Concern with
Outsourcing to Another Country

Problems can also occur when your country’s laws and regulations don’t apply in the foreign country where your custom jewelry manufacturing is being done.

For example, your country’s patents, copyrights, and non-disclosure agreements may not be upheld in other countries.

As a result, there have been incidents where business owners discovered that the overseas factory they’d hired to mass-produce their unique product was also quietly making loads of unauthorized copies of the product to sell directly to stores without the business owner’s knowledge.

Just Be Aware . . .

There are a lot of extra issues to consider and plan for if you decide to have your custom jewelry manufacturing done outside of your own country.

And these extra issues can mean that overseas jewelry production may not wind up being cheaper for you after all.

Be sure to do your research carefully.

Questions to Ask Before
Choosing a Manufacturer for Your Jewelry

What are their minimum order / production run requirements?

  • How long would it take them to do a production run and have it delivered to you?
  • What’s the per-piece cost at various production run sizes – and what additional costs are involved?
  • Will they be sub-contracting any of the work out to someone else?
  • Can they supply you with references – preferably from customers who had jewelry projects done there?

 

It’s a good idea to interview (and visit, if possible) a few different manufacturers to decide which one is the best fit for you and your jewelry.

Got Any Tips or Experiences Regarding
Custom Jewelry Manufacturing?

Please share them in the comments below. Thanks so much!

Rena

Comments:

Supporting your own country’s economy
by: Rena

I also wanted to mention that regardless of what country you live in, you may want to consider supporting your own country’s economy by having your jewelry production done in your nation instead of elsewhere.

No matter how few or many workers you’ll be employing with your project, you’re making a difference for your fellow countrymen by keeping the jobs in your country.

made in China?
by: Here Today Beadworks

It would just feel wrong to sell as handmade a piece that I designed but had made in China. Part of the appeal for me in buying handmade is the handmade part, and I assume that is the appeal for the buyers of my product too. I could not, in good conscience, sell products that I have had partially/wholly made in a factory somewhere.

Interesting ideas
by: Ann Nolen

This article is great, and it gives ideas that I can use portions of. For example, I hand paint coins. That part of the process I would keep to do myself since it is unique, I developed my own technique, and I love doing it. But, I would love to pay someone else to mount them on the display cards, etc. That is just work, and not something I would do if busy. I like the suggestion on how to find someone part-time to help me, and will start checking on that.
Another part of this article gets me thinking. I am limited by the design of coins availabe, though there is a lot out there that I love. I have been thinking of checking into designing my own coins and having them made. Now that would be very satisfying for me! So, this article reminded me of that, and so I need to do some research to see if that is possible and cost effective. Thanks Rena! I love how your articles spark my creative juices…
Ann
www.AnimalCoin.com

Thanks, Ann!
by: Rena

Thank you so much for sharing the ideas this article sparked for you!

I love the idea of designing your own coins. I’m sure you’ve seen many wonderful and inspiring coins over the years, and that you have an intuitive sense of what makes a good design for them. When you get your own coin designs made, I would love to see them.

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Comments

  1. What great advice. I sometimes struggle to finish off my bracelets, ,theyare either to tight or feel very loose. Its good to read tips like this as it reminds me of the basics which I often overlook.
    Dawn

  2. I have compared prices of both US and Oversea (China) makers and the cost difference is no comparison. Just over 4 TIMES the cost of having my jewelry made here in the states versus overseas! That’s HUGE! I can’t see ANY problem that one would have with an overseas maker that would equal or even exceed that cost difference. I wanted VERY MUCH to have them made here in the States, it’s a great selling point to customers and I love my country and would love to help our economy in any way I can. However, no customer is going to be interested in an at home made jewelry piece if the price point is 3 to 4 times that of competing jewelry piece which was probably made overseas. It’s a sad reality but this is why MOST businesses have their products made overseas. Customer’s can complain all they want about why are products produced overseas but not a one of them is willing to pay the cost of what the price would be if made here in the U.S. Believe me, they’ll complain MORE about why is the price so high verses why isn’t it made here.

  3. Fantastic article and thank you for sharing it with like minded creators. I am from Australia and have developed an application where a design in Australian gem opal is embedded into a product that I then set into my own designs of settings. It is possible to use most gems for this application however opal is my choice of gem and I often use gold as well.
    I have thought of out sourcing some of the application but have decided against it, probably mostly out of principal as well as the need to protect my unique application. While there is a cost difference in what I do if I were to out source I feel the fact that I can create pieces of jewellery that are uniquely Australian, (our national gemstone of Australia) here in Australia by my company only makes the work more special.

  4. This website offers a great wealth of information! Originally from Boston I moved to Bangkok almost 2 years ago to take on a position whose main objective is to minimize the concerns clearly articulated in the section about “complications doing business with overseas companies.” Our Bangkok factory is an affiliate of American home base so we are one of the few companies here subject to American law. For 2 of us, English is our first language and we mandate a firm comprehension of English for all of our customer service staff.

    To offer a little insight to confusion regarding time deadlines… A western approach to respectful business partnerships is often marked by contracts, deadlines and each party articulating what they can do and when. It is respectful to articulate one’s professional capabilities and create realistic expectations even if it means saying no to the clients’ unrealistic expectations.

    The eastern approach to respectful business partnerships is about saying yes, “saving face,” and accepting clients’ requests, unrealistic as they may be. When a customer mandates production of 100,000 pieces produced in 10 minutes, it is culturally respectful to say “yes” to the customer rather than explain how skewed and unreasonable their expectation is.

  5. martha greene says:

    Live in Florida. I want to design beautiful ankle bracelets and toe rings for people that live here and for locals to show off their beautiful tan

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