How Do I Price a Custom Piece Request from a Jewelry Store?

by Angelique Joseph.
(Connecticut)

How Do I Price a Custom Piece Request from a Jewelry Store? - discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

I have been making jewelry on and off for a few years now. I got back into it recently to supplement my income and grow it into a business. A friend of mine saw one of my pieces and became interested in selling some of it in her store.

Recently, a customer came into the store and saw two pieces of jewelry (not mine) that she liked. She wanted to merge the necklace part of one necklace with the pendant of another. Since the necklace is a tied silk string loop with no clasped end, it’s not a simple taking the pendant off of one necklace and putting it on the other. I would have to completely recreate the piece.

My question is, how should I charge for it?

The necklace (factory made) in her store is $78.00, my friend wants to charge that price, to the customer, for my custom piece with no mark-up. My issue is that it doesn’t account for my time and effort in recreating the piece and giving this customer exactly what she wants.

Also, since it’s a piece made by hand by me, I’d like to put my company tag on it (she labels all the jewelry with her store tags).

What are the best practices in a situation such as this?

I would love the sale and exposure, but I don’t want to get burned. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Angelique Joseph
I AM…

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Comments

  1. I completely understand your dilemma, Angelique. I once had my jewelry in a boutique where the shoppers sometimes wanted custom wirework after seeing my pieces there. So the shop owner set a deal with me, where those custom pieces had to go through the shop and we each got 50% of the price of the custom work. But I didn’t find it rewarding enough to continue there. Also I sometimes found it difficult to understand the customer’s design request when it came through the shop owner, without any contact between the customer and me. In hindsight, I think this scenario is a good thing to cover in your contract with the shop – do you want to do custom work for the shop’s customers? And if so, how do you want to price the custom pieces, and how to split the price of the work with the shop owner?

  2. I understand your dilemma. And since the shop owner is a friend of yours it makes it even more difficult.

    If it was me I had gone for it. Without adding anything to the price. But I would have make it shure, that it was the one and only time I would do this. I would also demanded the shop owner to keep my tags on my jewelry. Maybe she could use both yours and hers?

    Good luck!

  3. marlene says:

    I would not do it. And I would also want to have my tags, logo etc. on all the pieces that she has in her store. If a shop won’t do that I don’t put my items there. As you say she is a friend so she should be willing to work with you on that point. If she is afraid that you will take customers away from her because of your tags, then I would wonder how much of a friend she is.

  4. Jim Horth says:

    You have the right to request that your tags remain but keep in mind, if they have any contact information on them that would allow a customer to deal with you directly, the shop has the right to request their removal. As long as your tag only has your brand name, it could become a selling feature for the shop – as in a jewelry store advertising they have Art Carved school rings, Rolex watches, or Pandora beads. As for the price, I would just state what price you are willing to accept from the shop owner and let them mark it up from there. If it’s high, it may be enough to deter her from encouraging more custom work and if she deems it reasonable it could bring you more income.

  5. I do a lot of this type of work — even with my own designs, swapping pendants with another necklace (so I now try to assemble necklaces so that the pendants are easily interchangeable — and make that a selling feature with my jewellery).

    I’ve established a couple of flat rates for repairs, and I differentiate between designing time versus a simple restringing project (i.e. no thinking time involved): bracelets ($5), short ($15) or long ($20) necklaces, plus a clasp that the customer picks out ($3 up to whatever in sterling silver), plus an upfront, agreed-upon charge for any extra beads. The restringing prices include stringing wire and any jump rings/crimps/crimp covers.

    If the customer can’t — or won’t — come up with a simple restringing fee, then they’re welcome to go elsewhere… and some people do. In a huff, of course. But, oh, well… right? I shudder to think what they’re saying to their friends, but I’m sick and tired of people who try to bully me into working for free, not to mention providing all the materials and tools for free, and who really are showing utter contempt for my expertise. I get that they’re really angry at the person they bought the jewellery from in the first place, that it fell apart after just a couple of wearings and they feel ripped off, but don’t get mad at me!

    But for the most part, the people I actually do repairs for are so happy to be able to wear their favourite jewellery again and are so grateful most of them insist I take more money.

  6. Angelique, I also sell jewelry at a shop owned by a friend and get custom requests that I struggle with. I’ve come to believe that people who don’t make jewelry may not understand how much time and effort it can take to alter a piece and only take in to account the cost of materials when considering a fair price. If you do take this on, I hope you set a precedent that this is not a simple switching of components and that you will need to be compensated for your skill and time. Good luck!

  7. Angelique,
    I to, have been in similar positions. So, what I have come up with is a chart which lines out in advance what my policy is for repairs and re-designs. It is set on a flat plus % rate of the original design and repairs and cost of additional beads for lengthening. This is set up in my professionally presented contract with the merchant. I also require a face to face meet with the client who can express exactly what they expect the outcome, in writing, to be with their signature showing agreement on both sides. Present yourself as a professional and you will be respected as such. Never vacilate on your price and no refunds of completed commissioned peices. Your customers and merchants are not allowed to attempt treating you with disrepect. You are a professional and you should present yourself and your product as such. Not that you’re begging for placement or orders. My demographic is the mid to upscale shopper. These shoppers are more likely to treat you and you work as meaningful, not just another trinket to be thrown into the jewelry box.

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