Jewelry Consignment Percentage

Splitting the Proceeds Fairly
Between the Artist and the Shop or Gallery

by Rena Klingenberg.
What’s a reasonable jewelry consignment percentage when selling your work through a shop or gallery?

In other words, how much of the proceeds from the jewelry sale should go to the artist, and how much to the shop?

It’s a good question – the one that jewelry artists ask most frequently about selling their work on consignment.

Make sure the consignment percentage makes it worth
having your jewelry tied up, waiting for payment

How Consignment Works

When you sell jewelry on consignment, the shop or gallery keeps a percentage of the money from the sale as its commission for displaying and selling your work, and sends the balance of the money to you.

Most shops and galleries pay artists on a monthly basis, for items sold in the previous month.

(For example, the check you receive in August would be for your jewelry the shop sold in July.)

The shop or gallery uses its percentage of the sale of your jewelry to cover its operating expenses, employees, and displaying and marketing your work – with hopefully a little left over for profit to the owner.

Common Consignment Percentages

In jewelry sales, the most common consignment percentage is 60/40 (60% of the money from the jewelry sale goes to the artist, and 40% to the shop or gallery).

But depending on the shop or gallery, the consignment percentage may be anywhere from 80/20 (80% to the artist and 20% to the shop) to 50/50 (the artist and the shop split the proceeds of the sale equally).

When I consign my jewelry to shops or galleries, I don’t go lower than 60/40 (where I receive 60% of the proceeds from the sale).

I consign to one shop that splits the sales 70/30 (with me on the 70 end), which is very nice for me.

And although it’s nice for the artist when the commission split is as high as 80/20 (80 to the artist), that’s a rare deal.

Unless the shop sells a lot of high end pieces, an 80/20 consignment split may not leave the shop enough money to cover its operating expenses – and it may not be able to stay in business.

I Don’t Do
50/50 Consignment Deals

Why wouldn’t I accept a 50/50 consignment percentage?

Because I believe jewelry artists deserve better-than-wholesale earnings to compensate for the greater risks, increased paperwork, and slower payment cycle of consignment sales.

If the shop or gallery keeps 50% of the proceeds, then in my opinion it should purchase the jewelry from the artist up front and operate on a wholesale basis instead of consignment.

Remember, consignment arrangements are riskier for the artist than wholesale selling.

In consignment, your inventory is basically tied up while it’s on display in the shop or gallery, so you can’t recoup any of your investment on it till the shop sells your jewelry and work through its payment cycle.

Unfortunately, that’s often a slow process, with a long stretch between the time you deliver your jewelry to the shop and the time your check arrives in your mailbox.

Meanwhile, you face the opportunity cost of not being able to sell the jewelry yourself at shows or home jewelry parties unless you take it back from the shop.

The Risk of
Your Jewelry Becoming Unsellable

Another risk you take when consigning your jewelry is that consignment pieces are subject to wear and tear, so that if the shop doesn’t sell a piece and you get it back, it might not be in its original sellable condition.

That happened to me a few years ago.

A shop that had sold a good volume of my jewelry on consignment suddenly went out of business.

I got my unsold inventory back, but the owner just roughly wadded everything up together and shoved it into a plastic bag.

All my jewelry tags and earring cards were trashed, necklaces were hopelessly tangled, earwires were bent, and nearly everything was badly tarnished (where I live, metals tarnish VERY rapidly).

I spent a lot of time untangling, cleaning, and repairing my jewelry – and making new jewelry tags.

How Motivated is the Shop?

In addition, since a consignment shop owner hasn’t put out any of their own cash to acquire your jewelry for their shop, they aren’t quite as motivated to sell it quickly for you as wholesale buyers are.

So I believe that if the shop or gallery keeps 50% of the retail price, then you should receive your 50% up front by wholesaling your jewelry.

It makes good business sense to look for shops and galleries that will pay you a fair consignment percentage for your jewelry.

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  1. Thanks, I appreciate the feedback.
    It’s been many years since I have engaged in these type of sales.
    The 70/30 split seems the most advantageous for artist and retailers as their wholesale prices are usually 30-40% off retail. The area used for displaying jewelry for the most part is a very small part of the overall retail space.
    I used to self publish “How to paint books”, and my discount to distributors was 50/10/10 with the retail establishments paying 40% off the retail price to the distributors. With the cost of materials, torch gas, time of creation, etc, the artist should be compensated fairly for it to be a business for profit as opposed to a hobby.

  2. Mari Roselle says:

    I own and run a small gift shop. From the perspective of the shop owner, consignment looks a little different. The percentage (of 60 to artist, 40 to shop, etc) is deceiving, with artists often misunderstanding what is a shop’s “profit.” Most sales–85% for me–are paid by credit card, costing 3% of the sale price. We provide a nice organza sleeve, box, gift wrapping, bow, tissue, jute-handled bag, around $2-$3. We constantly replace displays–when necklace forms are handled, they quickly become worn-looking. We have shop overhead that means we don’t make a dime until we have covered rent, utilities, insurance, any employee hours, loan servicing, advertising, theft, breakage, operating supplies, and a million other costs that I would never have imagined before becoming a shop owner. It surprised me to realize that most arts-oriented shopkeepers are actually fulfilling a personal dream–and providing a public service–rather than making much of a living.

    MANY artists do not sell wholesale at 50/50–more like 60 to the artist, because so many mark up their “retail” when dealing with shopowners, but then sell much lower at shows, on etsy, or on other online sites. I currently offer artists 60 for consignment–a 60/40 split–but I will be switching to 50/50 because 60/40 I simply will go out of business. 20/80 or 30/70 are instances of shopkeepers simply providing a service to artists. This happens when a shop is just a tax shelter, actually sustained by other revenue sources (like a wealthy spouse), or it is sometimes an arrangement that a shopkeeper makes because a particular artist’s work may lend desirable credibility to a shop.

  3. Hi Rena!

    I find your emails so very informative. This one was about consignment percentages… what about if I’m selling wholesale to a boutique – I’m not sure I know what percentage to offer. Please help!


  4. Jeana says:

    Thank you for posting this information. For some time I had been selling my jewelry on Etsy, but with the struggling economy, disposable income is about as extinct as the DoDo Bird. Because of this I had actually entertained the idea of consigning my handmade Jewelry.

    To me, I don’t see how the artist wins at all. If I were to consign to a 50/50 contract, I would never make back what I invested in the piece to begin with, nevermind the time and imagination the design required in the first place. There may be heavy obstacles for shop owners, but the Artist has to make a profit to. I sell my work for what I paid for it, plus $10.00 for my time and design. I’ve been told I am seriously under pricing my work. In saying as much, consignment would simply not be something I would ever consider, not unless I am in the business of paying others for my time, rather than visa versa.

  5. I am doing a consignment through a coffee and jewellery boutique rolled into one shop and we have split through 50/50. However, I feel that I am being taken advantage of because the last months consignments, well they kept all my stock out the back for 2 weeks of the months when there was well enough space out the front, and I believe that no one else who is doing consignment with her is paying the 50/50 deal, as its an unfair price. I am only making back the amount it costs to make the item and no profit. When I went to pick up my stock, it was thrown in a box and all tangles with missing partners to earrings Ect. She is a family member who runs the business and I am unsure of what to do or approach her because she is a little touchy.

  6. Mari, thank you so much for sharing your shopowner experience, perspective, and costs. That’s valuable information for any artist who’s considering consigning or wholesaling. It’s important for artists to understand both parties’ side of things before making a business agreement.

    Jeana, if you haven’t seen my jewelry pricing formula, you may want to take a look at it. It helps you arrive at a realistic retail price that covers all of your costs, provides you with a profit, and enables you to consign or wholesale your jewelry profitably. As artists it’s so easy for us to undervalue our skills and our creations, and pricing can be a tricky area for creative people.

    Leah, if you are only making back your cost of supplies with no profit, you may want to see my jewelry pricing formula (which I mentioned to Jeana in the paragraph just above here), so you can start making a profit on your work. Also, unless you have a contract stating that your jewelry will be in the shop until a specific date or for a specific time period, you should be able to remove your jewelry from the shop at your own discretion. And if you decide to consign your jewelry to other shops in the future, see my post, Consigning Jewelry – where I discuss “Take Steps to Protect Your Consigned Jewelry”.

    And for anyone interested in consigning jewelry, my Jewelry Consignment Checklist will help you avoid a lot of problems and develop good relationships with good shops.

    Wishing you all the best of luck! 🙂

  7. Black Pearl Emporium says:

    To all Artist
    60-40 or 50-50% are very good rates. I as a Consignment shop owner do understand the time that go’s into your jewelry. But you must also understand I have big over head, rent, utilities etc. that I need to pay regardless of whether or not your product sells.

    One more thing – you may have the prettiest jewelry in the city, but if you can’t market and sell it. It’s worthless!

  8. Kenny says:

    If you stock your store for free and have to pay only 50% for it WHEN the stock sells just to make it you are not running a proper business it is a hobby business.

  9. Every time I have done consignment with a boutique it has been a nightmare. The first consignment shop asked me to make items they could sell at $10.00. One boutique just closed up and took off. After a little research I found out she owed at least 6 months of back rent. Landlord went in and sold all her items. I was out $900.00 worth of merchandise. Another boutique bounced my payment checks on 6 separate occasions. A current boutique I’m dealing with is run by a woman that has a wealthy boyfriend and is always jetting around (she posts everything on social media). I am so low on her priority that she hasn’t made the time to write out the check to me yet. At the same time she has sold most of my items and has a some of my displays. To her she doesn’t seem to understand that people running their business need to honor the contract and make payments on time. Not to sound too bitter but this has been my experience with consignment. Once I have all these open matters settled I will probably only do wholesale or sell through my design studio.

  10. I agree with Mari Roselle… we work with many local artists who do everything from art (oil,watercolor and acrylic), jewelry, sculptures, soaps and lotions, and more. We pay 50/50. We do not set the artists price, they do. We always encourage new artists to ensure they are making a profit… and not just getting by or breaking even. If we don’t think their product will sell due to price point, we simply don’t take their creations. There are many things that go into running a business that add to the expense… If 50/50 doesn’t work for the artist, we move on and work with one that it does. What value is having their work in a location if it goes out of business.

  11. Helen Culwell says:

    Rena, my stomach gets nauseous as I read some of these artist’s stories. I’ve had to set aside my jewelry creation for the past two years due to an illness and feel ready to get my feet wet again. I’ve sold my items at a yoga studio I frequented and also on Etsy. I found most of my sales and happiness were online with Etsy. Im afraid I wasn’t experienced enough in setting my prices, even though the owner suggested they should be priced higher. I guess I feel more comfortable running my own shop and not taking a lot of risks. I’m going to read all your advice on pricing and selling on consignment to see if I feel better about it this time. I guess I’m trying to discover if there’s an advantage to consignment and yet all I’m reading it appears mostly negative. I love your columns and they’ve helped me so many times in the past. Thank you, Rena for helping me and others who appreciate all your advice and tutorials. Next, today, I need to study your column on pricing. Much love and gratitude for all you do for us!❤️?

    p.s. I’ve gone back to my maiden name and moved to Arizona this past November. I love this area and all it has to offer in gemstones and great artists with talent with whom I hope to learn. Arizona is supposed to be very beneficial for people with RA so at long last things are looking up for me! Yay!???

  12. Helen, thank you for your lovely message. I have had positive consignment experiences, but they depend on having your jewelry in a shop / gallery with an honest, proactive owner and staff. I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling better and getting back into your jewelry! I hope the desert climate helps you to keep feeling better and better.

  13. Cynthia Williamson says:

    As a jewelry designer I have taken responsibility for providing the boxes and bags to the shop owner, along with the displays. I have been participating in a 50/50 split. However I’ll be seeking to move my arrangements to 60/40 as this more fairly recognizes that the cost of the materials come out of my share and those proceeds go to cover the packaging costs, displays, billing, inventory before I’m compensated for my time in sourcing & designing. I’m also a CPA and so it occurs to me that shop owners bear no risks of products not selling. Because they have no cash outlay until the jewelry sells and no money of their own tied up in inventory that a 50/50 split is not reasonable whatsoever. Going forward in 2017 I’ll insist on no less than 60/40. Thanks for the insight!

  14. Cynthia, you’re welcome, and I wish you all the best with this new insight for your jewelry business.

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