How Do I Create A Numbered Inventory System?

by Stephanie Lawlor.
(Florida, USA)


I’ve read postings of how readers have solved sku numbers for finished pieces, but how does one come up with inventory numbers for their parts/beads/findings/etc.?

I have recently bought the Beaders Pro software and am a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of assigning numbers to all the different types of beads, findings, wire, chain, focal beads,etc., and the strange one-off items one picks up occasionally.

I would greatly appreciate some insight or advice on this matter. Thank you for a great website, I enjoy reading all the tips and being part of a great community!

Stephanie Lawlor
Libelle studio

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  1. I, too, bought the Beaders Pro awhile back and felt overwhelmed. Databases are only useful if you know how to use them. I never did learn this one and finally took it off my computer.

    Then I used my Excel program and designed simple pages for the different pieces. My headings reflected what I thought I wanted to know. Even that, however, was more than I wanted to mess with. I’m not the best at keeping up with “inventory” per se because I realized that the only things I really want to know are:

    ** how much did I pay for this (how much is each bead or inch of wire, etc.),
    ** how much of which component did I use in which project, and
    ** how much is my base price, wholesale price and retail price based on how much of each component I used?

    I keep track of the price of each component by writing it right on the zip-type bag that the beads are in (this bag of pearls is 5cents each) or on the spool the wire is around (this enameled copper is 3cents/inch).

    Then, as I’m creating the project, I write on the form (which I created) how much of what I’m using. I keep the forms in a notebook rather than on my computer because I can fill them out while I’m working and not get distracted by the dratted computer.

    I don’t worry anymore if I’m running out of something, which I think is the main reason to keep track of inventory. I make one-offs or extremely limited editions of things so if I run out of something, that’s it.

  2. Hello, when I purchase my items, i put the date purchase, how much paid for (makes it easier at end of the year for inventory); # of pieces ; who I bought it from ( I usually make up a 2 or 3 letter code where I purchased by beads from); how much each bead will cost so when I take it out of the bag I will know how to charge for it.
    When I make my earring I will use letter E12: that means it was earring made in 2012 and then assign it a number start with 1 and next pair would be E122 and so forth. When you have Bracelet B12 and so forth.

  3. Beverly says:

    I use ‘JewelryDesignerManager’ software, which catalogs all my inventory. After you put the information in about the beads, you can also upload a picture of the beads. Same goes for finished pieces. This software also creates many different reports, such as an inventory list as well as a catalog of finished pieces. It also creates a list to let you know what beads etc, that needs to replaced. It can number your inventory. As for my finished pieces, I created my own item number starting with the year. I started out with the Standard but just recently upgraded to the Pro. I have compared this software with the others, and for me this one works perfectly for me. It also reasonably priced. Good Luck.

  4. Beverly says:

    It’s me again. I forgot to list some of the best features of JewelryDesignerManager. Not only do it catalog all of your inventory but calculates how much one item would cost. It calculates how much supplies you have used and how much you can price your finished pieces along with your time. I don’t mean to rave about it but it has solved a lot of headaches for me, a person who don’t like accounting or keeping inventory. Hopes this helps.

  5. I, too, use Jewely Designer Manager (Deluxe) and love that IT handles assigning inventory numbers to my parts, beads, findings, etc. I TRY, when I’m putting new beads away, to put a slip of paper with that JDM inventory number on it, in the compartment with the beads.

    When I’m making jewelry, I keep a notebook nearby and as I finish a piece, I write down what went into it. EVERYTHING that went into it, because I KNOW for sure that I won’t recognize in a finished piece what BRAND of beading wire was used and were those sterling or just silver plated round spacers!

    Finally, after taking a picture of the piece – where is where I assign my inventory number – my scheme is type (b, n, e), last 2 digits of the year, dash, sequence number: first earrings of 2012: e12-001 – ANYWAY, after taking the picture I can enter the piece into JDM by reading the notebook and plugging the part numbers into JDM. It also gives me the options of looking things up by part name or by vendor item # – and, if all else fails, I can always go through the part listings, looking for the picture of the bead used. THAT’S time-consuming, but it’s nice to have many ways to find something.

    The point, no matter what method you use to track your bead/parts purchases, is to take the time to do the tracking!

  6. You might consider using an abbreviation, if your program allows that, trying to figure out what number goes with what component may drive you crazy.

  7. I just started my own system of numbering because I have just started working with a jewelry rep and we needed a good system of communicating about which items have sold and which she needs more of. I break it down by earrings, bracelets, necklaces, etc. For instance, earrings are in the 1000’s and then I break it down further by technique or style (1000-1249 is one style or technique, 1250-1499 is another, etc.). Some pieces are one-of-a-kind and have their own individual stock numbers, but I do have pieces I make in large quantities and they all have the same number. So far, it’s working well for me.
    I downloaded a free inventory program called ABC Inventory, since I really can’t afford the programs that are jewelry business-specific. I haven’t had much time to explore this new program, but it’s geared toward small businesses, so I have hopes that it will work just fine.

  8. I use Jewelry Designer Manager Pro to keep track of components/parts and finished pieces. On the part side, I have categories like glass beads, gemstone beads, clasps, stringing supplies, metal, etc. As I add a part to a category, the system automatically generates a part ID.

    If I was setting up a numbering scheme, I’d define categories and then assign numbers to each item within a category. For example, if the category was glass beads, the first string of beads could be GLSB0001, the second could be GLSB0002 and so on. I’m assuming that the actual record for the part has space to indicate where you bought it, cost and size, and therefore would not include that type of information in the part ID.

    And be sure to write your part ID on the package holding the item – after a while all red beads start to look alike, now was it deep red, dark red, ruby??? Whatever you finally decide on, make sure it’s something easy to remember or else you won’t use it. Good luck!

  9. Stephanie Lawlor says:

    Thank you very much for all the tips and ideas! I love being a member of a community which helps each other out and has such creative ideas to handle the many little issues which arise in a business. Thank you for taking the time away from beading to answer my question. I have four kids, I know how little time we get (uninterrupted) at our beading, and I appreciate your help!
    Stephanie Lawlor

  10. Great post and all coments. I am just looking for such software.

  11. My sister and I created item numbers by using our initial,B for Bracelet, E for Earrings and N for necklace with a number and price that it cost us to make the item. For example – SA-B001-125, SA-B002-250.

    That way we know how much it cost us so we can price the item.

  12. Sandra & Sister – very clever system! Thanks for sharing that idea! 🙂

  13. Katie Wile says:

    I am new to the jewelry making scene and I have been reading all of your wonderful advice for creating inventory numbers but I am having a problem with how to figure out the base price; wholesale price; retail price and especially how can I figure out if I’m making or loosing money. I’m not a smart person and I’m sure not an accountant but I do want to make my business succeed. Some people do their business for fun but mine is a life choice. If I don’t make it; I don’t eat. I know that is a bad thing to say. I’m a senior citizen and I’m on social security that is what I’m talking about.

  14. Katie, thanks for asking! Here’s the info on how to price jewelry. Wishing you all the best with your jewelry business! 🙂

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