by Rena Klingenberg.
Here’s a jewelry consignment checklist to guide you step-by-step through selling your handmade jewelry on consignment via shops and galleries.
These steps should guide you safely through the process of finding the best shops or galleries for your work, approaching them with your jewelry, reducing your risk, getting paid fairly for your jewelry, and keeping your work in the best shops.
Jewelry Consignment Checklist
1) Consider whether consignment is right for you:
There are advantages and disadvantages of selling jewelry on consignment.
Before heading into this type of business arrangement, consider these pros and cons of consigning jewelry, and decide whether it’s a good fit for you.
2) Make sure your jewelry is priced for profitability on consignment:
Of course, consigning your work to a shop means that the shop keeps a portion of the money earned on each sale.
Read up on jewelry consignment percentages so you’ll be aware of what the shop or gallery is expecting.
And use my jewelry pricing formula to make sure you’ll be making a profit after the shop keeps their percentage of the sale.
Another important consideration: Once your jewelry is in a shop or gallery, make sure you never sell the same (or similar) pieces for less than the shop’s price on them. Undercutting your shops’ prices on your work is considered to be unprofessional – and can ruin your relationship with them.
3) Research the best shops and galleries for your jewelry:
Researching shops and galleries ahead of time is one of the most important steps on this jewelry consignment checklist.
Not every shop or gallery is a good fit for your jewelry – or for you.
Once you’ve found places that look like a good match for your jewelry, it’s vitally important to investigate them as businesses.
That’s because, unfortunately, some shops and galleries are operated very poorly or even dishonestly, which is not a good situation for your business.
So it’s important to follow Rita Juhlin’s smart steps for investigating shops and galleries, in her must-read post, Jewelry Consignment 101.
4) Put together a portable jewelry display:
You’ll need some way to transport your jewelry to the shop or gallery, to show your work to the owner there.
It’s best to have a portable jewelry display that’s easy to whip out, enables the shop owner to look through your jewelry quickly and see each piece well, and is fast to pack away again when it’s time for you to leave the shop.
In addition, the more professional your presentation is, the more comfortable the shop or gallery owner will feel about doing business with you.
I find that stackable jewelry trays inside wheeled aluminum cases work well for me – but there are lots of other setups you can make or buy.
Here you can see my portable jewelry display cases.
5) Assemble a literature packet:
Make a really professional impression by having a nice folder ready to hand to the shop owner, containing all the info they need about your jewelry and your business.
This folder should contain things like:
- a few of your jewelry business cards
- your artist bio
- your jewelry line sheets / price lists / catalogs (if you have any – they’re not usually necessary for consignment)
- any flyers, jewelry business postcards, or brochures with photos of your jewelry, your studio, or your jewelry-selling events
- photocopies of any magazine or newspaper articles featuring your jewelry (if you have any – this isn’t a necessity).
6) Be prepared with a consignment agreement:
I wouldn’t recommend leaving your jewelry anywhere on consignment unless you have a consignment agreement signed by you and by the shop / gallery.
I find that most shops and galleries have their own consignment contracts or agreements.
However, it’s a good idea to bring your own – here’s what you should consider including in your agreement, along with an example contract: jewelry consignment agreement.
Also, decide ahead of time whether there are any conditions you want to be sure are in the contract – so that while you’re meeting with the owner, you can make sure they agree that you may write your conditions into their existing contract before you both sign it.
7) Get set up to keep records of your consignments:
If the shop or gallery decides to take some of your jewelry on consignment, they usually want to select some pieces to take right away.
So be prepared with an order form that you can fill out there in the shop (I use two-part carbonless order forms that come in a pad from office supply stores).
Write down each piece of jewelry you’re leaving in the shop, including the quantity and price of each item. Have the shop / gallery owner verify what you’ve written, and then each of you should sign and date the bottom of the order form. Each of you keeps a copy.
You may want to also follow up by mailing a consignment invoice of the order printed from your jewelry inventory software, if you use one.
See more about keeping track of your jewelry consignment inventory.
8) Approach your targeted shop or gallery:
You’ll find a ton of tips and strategies for this in my detailed article on approaching shops and galleries with your jewelry.
Are you having a hard time gathering your courage to contact shops and galleries for appointments? If so, you’re not alone!
But don’t lose heart. It’s actually easier than you think.
See my 3-minute video, Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone, where I share the story of how I overcame my fear of contacting my first shop.
Also see our helpful discussion on the fears of failing and being rejected by shops and galleries – I Love Making Jewelry, but Just Nervous to Start a Business.
9) Decide whether this shop or gallery is a good fit for you:
Once you’ve arrived at the shop or gallery for your scheduled meeting with the owner, be alert to things that indicate to you whether you’d like to work with this shop – or not.
Are you comfortable talking and doing business with the owner? Does he or she listen to you – or quickly brush your words aside?
Does the shop expect an “exclusive” deal on your work – meaning that you can sell your stuff only via their shop? (This is NOT usually a good situation for you.)
Do they act like they’re doing you a favor by accepting your work? That also tends to be a bad sign for you.
Are they willing to meet your reasonable conditions for displaying and selling your work there?
Do you have a good feeling about the shop / gallery – or does anything about the shop, the staff, or the owner make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy?
Pay attention to your intuition and feelings. It’s much easier to simply not make a consignment deal with the shop in the first place, than to disentangle yourself from an agreement with a shop that’s not good for your jewelry (or for you).
If things aren’t right for you, it’s so much easier to politely end the meeting by saying,
“Thanks so much for meeting with me today – I really appreciate your time. But I don’t think my work is really a good fit for your shop.”
10) Put your jewelry in the shop on a trial basis:
If your meeting goes well and all signs are positive, it’s a good idea to start out by consigning a small amount of jewelry the shop on a trial basis of 3 months or so.
I also offer to change out any jewelry that doesn’t seem to be interesting to their customers after the first month.
Be sure to ask how and where your work will be displayed – and don’t hesitate to make requests if you feel their ideas won’t be the best way to show your jewelry.
11) Follow up after your meeting:
Regardless of how your meeting turned out – and whether or not you and the shop decided to do business together – send a thank-you.
It’s a sign of your professionalism – and you never know where your polite, sincere note may lead!
So always send a nice, hand-written thank-you card or postcard the following day.
12) Evaluate the shop:
Once you’ve gotten your jewelry in a shop or gallery on consignment, evaluate how things are going. Is this a shop you want to stick with?
13) Keep the good shops and galleries:
Good shops and galleries are worth their weight in gold!
Don’t just think of them as a paycheck. Instead, consider them as a valued business partner. Develop a good relationship with them:
- Make yourself valuable to them, beyond what they earn from selling your jewelry.
- Ask what jewelry they’d like to carry – what’s selling well, what people are requesting, what colors of their other merchandise are selling well for them.
- Offer to do seasonal jewelry trunk shows there.
- Promote the shop or gallery. Blog about them, link to them, put their business card or flyer in with the jewelry sales you make elsewhere.
- Participate in any open-house or other events the shop or gallery hosts – and help promote the event.
- Send them any helpful info you come across for them. Share useful insider tips on jewelry trends.
- Ask what you can do for them.
- Keep in touch by sending them holiday cards – and occasional jewelry gifts for the owner and staff.
Jewelry Consignment Checklist
If you follow the steps in this jewelry consignment checklist, you’ll avoid many of the pitfalls of selling jewelry on consignment.
You should also be able to find shops and galleries that are a good fit for your jewelry – and for you.
And if you found this jewelry consignment checklist helpful, please share it with other artists and handmade business people!