Selling Pricey Jewelry vs. Bargain Jewelry

by Pamela Dudrow.

Recently I had an experience that I’d like to share.

I create jewelry and sell at a price I think is a good retail price; taking into consideration how much time I’ve put into each piece, and addressing the current popularity of the technique I use.

Okay, it’s pricey!

Selling Pricey Jewelry vs. Bargain Jewelry - Fold Formed Jewelry by Pamela Dudrow  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

I recently attended a show where the audience was looking for a bargain.

I took with me two trays of earrings that I really wanted to unload, so I put “rock bottom” sale prices on each pair.

Selling Pricey Jewelry vs. Bargain Jewelry - Fold Formed Jewelry by Pamela Dudrow  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Well, what occurred was eye-opening for me.

NO ONE purchased any of my regularly priced items!

I made a lot of sales that day, but the only items purchased were those darned sale priced earrings!!!

I barely made my entry fee in sales!

Soo… This past weekend I had a show where the venue was centered around Bike Nite (a rowdy group of Harley motorcyclists come-together for an evening of music, festivities, and showing off their “machines”!)

I took a chance because they hadn’t had a jewelry vendor before.

I decided, based on my last experience with the sale earrings, that I would take my newly formed niche jewelry and sell at full price (i.e.: pricey).

Selling Pricey Jewelry vs. Bargain Jewelry - fold formed metal jewelry by Pamela Dudrow -  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Much to my surprise I experienced the best revenue for any show I had ever attended!

Point is, people will pay full price when ALL your jewelry reflects the higher price that translated into very special handmade artist jewelry!

Go with your head; not that sentimental heart you carry around in your chest!!!

Pamela Dudrow
Jesco Jewelry
Jesco Jewelry on Facebook

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  1. Thank you so much for this great post, Pamela! My experience with pricey vs. bargain jewelry is similar to yours – at shows where people are happy to pay for pricey jewelry it’s best not to display the discounted pieces.

    Also, I love the intriguing designs and colors of your metalwork – and your information cards accompanying each piece and explaining the amount of work involved in creating it, so people understand that it’s pricey for a reason!

  2. Catherine Franz says:

    Pamela, thank you for sharing this information with me. I too have experienced the same thing. I make a lot of earrings that cost me in time and materials about $.10 to make. Then I sell them at $5. I make a lot of money this way since I normally have approximately one to two thousand pairs of earrings at this price. I make sure that I make double my costs – space, payroll for my helpers, my materials and any time I put into it. I always get this. In fact several shows I sell so many that I make a pretty good profit.

    But you’re right, the show makes the difference. After 12 years of selling I know each of the shows that I go to. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get a surprise every once in a while. For example, one of the churches last year went from selling the pricey items to selling the five dollar earrings. I still left with $1200 profit. And that’s all from earrings. That’s a lot of earrings sold.

    The main point here is to know your show. If it’s a new show and you haven’t done your research you will not know what to expect. I find the churches the funkiest type of buyers. I don’t always know what I’m going to do year-to-year.

    Thanks to your comment though, I’m going to change my strategy with one of the churches this year. Since a lot of the jewelry vendors around me are selling the cheaper stuff, I’m going to put out the expensive stuff for the first hour and see what happens. I will have the five dollar earring batches under the table.

    Again Pamela thank you! I hope you do well in all your shows. Your jewelry is beautiful. And since I do fold forming myself I know how much work is involved.

  3. Thanks for commenting and I completely agree! You really must know your venues!

  4. Linda C says:

    Years ago when in a business of a bowling alley cafe and tap room, found a huge difference between when it was a men’s tournament – they tipped quite well however at women’s tournament they would barely tip. It may have been your venue in this case however I have learned to sometimes ask my customers if they thinking priced too high on items (this is when it was clear they were just a-lookin) and found they thought the price was fair. I go with what I feel it is reasonable. Just remember there is an awful lot of junk jewelry in retail stores with pretty high prices!

  5. Judith says:

    Harley ‘brand’ items are expensive. You had a crowd of people looking for quality items….and fortunately, you were in the right place selling the right items.

  6. In my experience, pricing items too low impacted sales negatively. I spent 3 years trying to sell my jewelry at really low prices (just barely covering cost of materials and other overhead expenses) I sold hardly anything at all. On the advice of some other jewelry sellers who all thought I was seriously undervaluing myself I increased my pricing first by doubling it. The very next day after doubling my prices my sales on ETSY quadrupled and kept on growing from there. My sales in direct shows at my booth also increased. I never failed to make enough to warrant doing a show after I did the price increase. Over time I’ve learned much better pricing strategies for ensuring that my time, my expenses plus a little for reinvesting back into the business are all covered.

    It makes a huge difference to the perceived value on the buyers side of the table when you price your hand made work properly.

  7. Stephanie Thompson says:

    Good to know, Thanks for sharing this!

  8. Thank you for this information… I have a wide range of pricing: from $5 earrings through $200+ hand made gold chain maille bracelets. Sometimes it feels like only “the nickels” (the $5 earrings) sell at shows, and I’ve long wondered if I should just stop offering them. I may have to give that some more thought going forward based on your story and these follow up comments.

  9. Katherine, I am impressed that you made $1,200 selling $5 earrings! That is a ton of inventory to move. That’s like a pair of earrings every 2 minutes for 8 hours. Great show!

    And Pamela, thanks again for the reminder to know the show. My experience has been the opposite, people have pawed through the discount basket, disinterested & moved on to the more expensive pieces. This is at a retail gem show. The process of pricing really makes me scratch my head.

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