the two-step system I use
for pricing jewelry
© by Rena Klingenberg; all rights reserved.
Do you use a jewelry pricing formula to determine how much to charge for your creations? There isn’t one “best” formula for pricing jewelry – and most artists who sell their jewelry come up with their own price calculation procedures.
Important Elements of a
Jewelry Pricing Formula
In my opinion, using a jewelry pricing formula is just the first step in arriving at the final price of a piece of jewelry.
First, I use a calculation to determine a base price that ensures I won’t be selling the piece at a loss.
Then, once I’ve determined that base price, I adjust the final retail price to more accurately reflect the value of the piece to my particular market.
The key is to be sure that any jewelry pricing formula you use compensates you for:
- your supplies
- your overhead expenses
- your time.
When you’re selling your handmade jewelry, it’s important to purchase your supplies at the lowest possible price – at wholesale or at bulk discounts as much as possible.
This jewelry pricing formula does NOT provide realistic prices if you’re purchasing your supplies at full retail prices from a local craft store or bead store.
For example, if your supplies for a pair of earrings cost $15 from a craft or bead store, but the same supplies would have cost you just $5 if you were purchasing wholesale or in bulk, you can see the huge difference that would make in the pricing formula’s final numbers!
The Second Step in My
Jewelry Pricing Formula
After using my formula, I add an important second step: Adjust the resulting price to reflect:
- the overall outcome of the finished piece
- how easily I could replace all of the elements in the piece if I wanted to make a similar item
- what I believe people in my target market would be willing to pay.
Of course, these three points are mainly subjective, and require a bit of experience with your intended market. But I know I can’t drop the final retail price below the base price the formula gave me, without losing money on the sale.
My Jewelry Base-Price Formula
It’s a simple equation:
Base price =
(cost of materials + packaging) x 4
+ your pro-rated hourly labor rate
then + 10% of that total for overhead costs.
An Example of Using My Formula:
For this example, let’s say that:
- you made a necklace using $5 of supplies
- your packaging (tag, box, bow, bag, and business card) for this piece totals $1
- the necklace took you 30 minutes to make
- your hourly labor rate is $20 (of course, your own labor rate may be much different, depending on your medium, your speed, and your skill level).
Now let’s calculate:
1. First, figure out your pro-rated labor cost:
Your 30 minutes of labor equals half an hour. So half of your $20 hourly labor rate equals $10 of labor on this necklace.
2. Next, add up your cost of materials:
$5 of jewelry supplies + $1 of packaging = $6 subtotal.
3. Now multiply your total cost of materials by 4:
$6 x 4 = $24.
4. Then add your pro-rated labor rate to that:
$24 + $10 = $34.
5. Now figure your overhead, which is 10% of that:
$34 x .10 = $3.40
6. Finally, add the overhead to our $34 subtotal:
$34 + $3.40 = $37.40.
7. Our base price for the necklace is $37.40, which we’ll round off to $37.
That means we can’t price the necklace below $37 without losing money on it. Now we can adjust that retail price up a little or a lot – depending on the uniqueness and overall outcome of the necklace, how easily we could replace the components if we wanted to, and how much our intended market would be willing to pay.
Does That Seem Like
a Big Markup to You?
Many jewelry artists price their work by simply doubling the cost of their supplies – charging $10 for that necklace made from $5 of jewelry supplies. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to have a profitable business with that kind of pricing. It doesn’t cover all of your costs.
When you sell your jewelry, you need to be paid for the time, effort and craftsmanship you put into all the various aspects of your jewelry business, plus the cost of all of your overhead expenses, if you want to stay in business.
Your overhead expenses include things like your jewelry business website fees, jewelry displays, tools, insurance, merchant account fees for accepting credit cards, receipt books, digital camera (and its batteries) for photographing your work, jewelry magazines, workshops, etc.
If you’re in business, your jewelry has to pay for all of those expenses as well as your jewelry making supplies.
And after all the expenses are paid for, you’d like to have a little left over to pay yourself too.
That’s what I like about my jewelry pricing formula – by finding the base price, I know I’m not losing money when I sell my jewelry; and the final price more accurately reflects what the piece is worth to its buyer.
Why Multiply x4 in This Formula?
Thanks for asking!
Multiplying your cost of materials + packaging x 4 in my jewelry pricing formula sets your retail price high enough so that if you sell your pieces at wholesale or on consignment to a shop, you’ll still make a profit.
Wholesale and consignment prices are typically 50% to 60% of your retail price. So the $37 retail-priced bracelet in this example would be wholesale-priced at $18.50.
The shop owner who buys it from you at wholesale would then turn around and retail-price the bracelet at $37, and sell it to a customer who comes into the shop.
Your $18.50 wholesale price gives you a much smaller profit margin on your bracelet. So wholesale pricing usually requires the shop owner to purchase a minimum quantity of 6, 10, 12, (or however many) items at a time.
When you make and sell multiples of an item, your manufacturing and selling costs are lower, and you make up for the smaller per-item profit by selling more items at a time.
In contrast, when you’re selling jewelry pieces one or two at a time to individual customers (at shows, home parties, etc.), you’ll need to charge retail pricing to stay in business.
That extra money you receive when you sell your bracelet to a customer yourself (retail-priced at $37) gets eaten into quickly by booth fees, party hostess incentives, travel expenses, wear and tear on your displays, and other costs of selling directly to the public.
So multiplying your cost of materials + packaging x4 gives you the minimum retail price you can charge without losing money.
It also clues you in to the minimum wholesale price (usually half of your retail price) you can charge without losing money when you sell your jewelry to shops or other wholesale buyers.
What If Your Jewelry
Takes Several Hours to Make?
On a labor intensive item, how do you include your labor rate without charging really high prices?
Be sure to see my post, Profiting from Jewelry That’s Time Consuming to Make.
How Do You Raise Your Prices
When You’ve Been Pricing too Low?
These two posts detail simple strategies for raising your jewelry prices comfortably – and without alienating your customers:
Does Pricing Your Jewelry
Make You Uncomfortable?
We have a post and discussion about Jewelry Artists’ Mental Money Barriers and accepting the money you’ve earned for your creations.