Can You Really Make a Living From Making Jewelry?

by Shelly.
(Huntington Beach, California)

I just had to ask! I know many are well established and or well known ,so I am referring to others. I am a single mom of a teen daughter,and I am a Hairstylist as my career for the last 26 yrs.

I just started making jewelry again for the enjoyment and maybe selling a few things at work,(when I had a few extra bucks to use for supplies) when I had an Epiphany!!

I will and MUST make jewelry!!!

Lol…You KNOW what I mean! Just this deep intense love of the craft,the pure joy I get in making a new piece…It’s like I have found my new “home”!!

And now I am wondering; Is it possible to make a good income? I know it won’t happen overnight….it just seems so saturated out there when it comes to jewelry.

Any thoughts and comments?


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  • Mary Ann says:

    Shelly: You said what I have been thinking! I have a corporate “day job” and I’m looking to retire and strictly make jewelry.

    I really love making jewelry, especially when someone else truly enjoys wearing one of my creations. I’ve been “in business” for almost 2 years and so far I am a non profit. LOL.

    The craft shows and ETSY are full of jewelry crafters. Now I’m also wondering if you can truly make any kind of living doing this.

  • Hi Shelly and Mary Ann!

    It’s definitely possible to turn your jewelry business into a full-time profit-center that supports you.

    From my personal experience with this, here are some considerations you may want to think about:

    (1) The lower your living expenses are, the easier it is to fully support yourself:

    The less money you need to get by, the better you can weather the ebbs and flows of having a flexible income – especially when you’re first starting out.

    So if you haven’t already done so, you may want to creatively consider ways you could cut your monthly expenses. If you were doing your heart’s desire for a living (making jewelry), what could you eliminate that you wouldn’t miss?

    Of course, different solutions work for different people – but the bottom line is:

    The less money you need to meet your expenses month after month, the easier (and less stressful) it is to do so, especially when you’re first starting out.

    (2) Price your jewelry products and services profitably:

    This is really a biggie when it comes to supporting yourself with your jewelry business. See my jewelry pricing formula to figure out the minimum profitable prices to charge for your work.

    (3) Diversify your jewelry income:

    Develop multiple streams of income from your jewelry talent.

    Especially during the times of year that are slower for selling finished jewelry, consider options like offering jewelry-making workshops / parties (at your place or elsewhere) and children’s jewelry-making birthday parties; jewelry-making kits, etc.

    (4) Create your own opportunities to sell your jewelry:

    For example, bring your jewelry to people as a convenient way for them to shop – especially right before gift occasions – by offering earring lunches, lunch-hour jewelry shows, and other kinds of trunk shows. My book, Easy Ways to Sell Your Jewelry Every Day, details several ways to sell jewelry by bringing it to people who can’t / don’t want to shop in regular venues.

    This strategy has been a HUGE part of my success in my own jewelry business.

    (5) Decide what you’re best at, and build your business around those things:

    You’ll have a better chance of reaching your goals if you base those goals on your own unique strengths and resources.

    These are all very simple things to do.

    I hope this helps!

    Please keep in touch and let us know how you’re progressing! šŸ™‚

    And I hope you’ll keep us posted as your journey unfolds!

  • shelly says:

    Thank you so much! Excellent response,I really appreciate it šŸ™‚ I will keep you posted!

  • Rob says:

    What an awesone post and thank you Rena for a great answer! Been wondering the same thing myself but in my early 20’s I brought in $400 – $500 a month net from making macrame necklaces and put in about 8 hours a week making them. Charged $8 labor per necklace plus direct cost of the beads, so I only made money from the labor. Usually made a necklace in 20 – 30 minutes, so I was averaging $16 – $24 an hour. It was sure a lot of fun. As far as market goes, I was mainly selling to friends at first, word of mouth traveled and it grew. Tried to keep at least 6 – 12 necklaces made to show different design capabilities. Usually people bought what was already made but did quite a bit of custom made as well. Actually got to the point where it became difficult to keep enough inventory without it selling and custom orders were having to wait in line. How awful, right? It’s one of the only hobbies on my life that actually brought in some money but felt that any more than 8 hours a week doing it, like instead say 40 hours a week, would have taken the enjoyment out of it. Hindsight being 20/20 though, 8 hours a week of it was fun though. If the aim is to replace a 40 hour/week job then that leaves 32 hours that week to cover. Moreover, if there were one more different kind of jewelery craft with 8 hours/week making those as well, one is probably well on their way. So Shelly, I’d say get your craft on and show them off to people whenever you see an ethically sound opportunity to do so. Always carry your best work with you for when you see golden opportinities to present your work. Super fun and super easy. Best of luck!

  • Rob says:

    Oh and one more thing, always reinvest before spending any of the jewelery making money! That is why I priced the labor and supplies as two different things. Reinvesting 100% of the money that came from beads pretty well kept my inventory stable, but investing a bit of labor money once in a while into supplies provided inventory growth. As I said, still averaged $16 – $24 an hour net income from it and that was 20 years ago.

  • Thanks, Rob, and it was interesting to hear your experiences.

  • Kelly says:

    Hi Shelly,

    I came across the post and you took the words out of my mouth. I am just wondering how old this post is and if you have pursued your dream. Any feedback would be great as Iā€™m starting myself with the same venture.


  • ember says:

    So great to hear that sounds advice. People really need to get the budgeting and costing side of things. SO important. I had a similar experience back in the late 1990’s but with hand painted glasswhere. I hit the beginning of a trend so I was ahead of the game. within 12 months I had enquiries from corporate chains for giftware. couldnt keep up but I only wanted to work 4 days on it a week as its labour intensive.
    In the end after 3 years I got thoroughly sick of it and trained up my mum to take over so she had some part time work, but she didnt quite have the knack to keep going.

  • ember says:

    Was just thinking further about my response to Rob above. During the time I was doing the glass I was also invited to join an artist co-op. You may want to consider that! It was structured like so. Small shop which had 7 main artisans/makers. We equally shared all expenses but one person was “running” the place as she lived upstairs so she had free ret included for doing a bit of extra leg work( That didnt work out in the end)But for a few years it worked so well!. We all did a rostered shift once a week. But taking out expenses we took 100% of the sales from our own work. I only had glassware. there were two ceramicists which did very different types of work, a landscapist, jewelery makers x 2 and one other thing( cant remember). The only thing I would have done differently is each person could include one or two other artisans work as part of their own inventory as long as it wasnt competing with other artists work, to bump up a slow week of profit. These days people do it as arts incubators, but the owner still cuts your profit. Also these days youd need all the web/online shopping and social media to go with it but, as a shared expense could be amazing with the right people and you arent tied to running a shop as well as trying to make work and survive.

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