7 Ways to Make Your Jewelry Business Survive Uncertain Economic Times

by Catherine D’Arcy.

Amber & silver pendant by Corazon Latino

The economy seems to be falling apart before our eyes, with house prices crashing, mortgages rising, food and gas prices going through the roof and the price of silver (and gold I believe, although I am no expert) double what it was a year or so ago.

At Corazon Latino I sell almost exclusively silver jewellery and I have seen the prices from my artisans increase by well over 50% in the past 18 months.

At the same time, people have less money to spend and retailers worldwide are showing big downturns in sales. So how, as a small jewelry business, do you survive in this economic climate?

Reduce Your Overhead

First of all, you need to ensure you have the lowest possible overhead expenses.

When you start out, you need to do everything for yourself. You cannot afford staff, premises, or any support. You must be willing and able to be your own buyer, salesman, marketer, bookkeeper, customer service agent & packer.

The only person I would advise you invest in is a good accountant to ensure you do not make a mistake and fall foul of the tax man.

Corazon Latino's versatile Andromeda necklace

Provide Unique Jewelry
and Services

Next you need to ensure that what you are offering is genuinely unique and different. If you are just buying from a wholesaler, the chances are someone is buying more, cheaper than you and can undercut you. Businesses that compete solely on price do not fare well during economic downturns as their margins are tight and their customers are not loyal.

By offering something that is genuinely unique, you immediately create your own market. It may not be big, but at least there’s no competition.

Know When to
Increase Your Prices

If your raw materials are going up in price you need to increase your retail and wholesale prices. If you don’t, your business will slowly fall apart. (Assuming you weren’t being greedy in the first place of course.)

If you can afford to absorb a little of the increases, do so; your customers will appreciate it. But don’t cut your own throat out of fear of increasing your prices. Explain the situation to customers. Most people are reasonable and they will understand.

Never Sacrifice Quality

Do NOT take the option of reducing quality. In my opinion this is dishonest, and if you have a loyal customer base, you risk losing the very people you have spent years developing.

For example: If you sell a pretty silver bangle weighing 35g and the price needs to go up by 20%, do it. Do not take the weight down by 20% to 28g and keep the price the same. It may seem like a good idea but what happens when someone who has been recommended the bangle by a friend buys it and discovers hers is lighter? Or someone with one buys one as a gift? You don’t look good.

Taking weight or value out of things usually reduces quality, and in the jewelry market, quality is your best chance of survival.

Make Your Jewelry Business
Appear Professional

If you are unique, and offer a good quality product, make sure you show it.

Invest in a good quality website, use professional models and photographers, and make sure that everything you do screams “quality”. In this way you have a far better chance of justifying your prices and attracting the sort of customers who are less susceptible to the economic downturn.

Cassiopeia silver jewelry set by Corazon Latino

Take Customer Care Seriously

Customer service is key to survival when times are tough. Anyone will tell you it costs much more to get a customer than to keep one.

Great service isn’t difficult or expensive. It just takes time, care and attention – and it has a huge value to your customers.

Great service inspires loyalty, gets you word of mouth recommendations and makes people a lot more understanding when prices rise.

Stay Positive

If you focus on these areas, and control your costs, you will be able to weather the storm. These things are cyclical.

Maybe we aren’t going to have a great year this year, but the jewelry businesses that manage the situation with honesty, integrity and great customer service are the ones who will still be here in a year or two’s time to reap the benefits of the next upturn!

Also by Catherine D’Arcy: The Accidental Jewelry Business.

Author Catherine D’Arcy is the founder of Corazon Latino (“Latin Heart”), an online retailer selling handmade silver jewelry, including the beautiful silver and amber pendants like the one shown above. The range is designed and developed by Catherine, working with skilled silversmiths in Latin America and Eastern Europe.

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  • Jill says:

    I believe these 7 steps should apply regardless of economic climate. Especially now that our economy is on the rise again. Mortgage rates are lower now than they have been in a very long time, inflation is nonexistent, gas prices have been dropping in my area, and new building is increasing! I see a bright future for 2013 and wholeheartedly agree with all 7 of Catherine’s steps, especially number 7!

  • Pamela says:

    Great advice and great encouragement. I was feeling like maybe I should give up on trying to get my fledgling jewelry business off the ground but you have given me great insight. I have had a shoot first and aim later sort of tactic but now I believe that I should have a more focused approach to my jewelry. Sometimes I feel it’s hard to keep up with the trends. What I think is a great piece may not be currently what’s in style. I visit places like “Charming Charlies” just to see color schemes and styles that are popular. Don’t know if that’s productive but at least I can get somewhat of an idea of what people are buying. The only issue with this tactic is that finding the components to make fashionably trendy style I see in stores is challenging.

  • I’m so glad you found this piece useful. Anther piece of advice, ignore he trends and do what you believe is right. Beautiful design never goes out of fashion, and trends never last. Good luck with your businesses in 2013.

  • Dabanga says:

    It’s been tough,but I find the article very encouraging and am going to share it with some of my FB groups : )

  • Nancy Bailey says:

    Great article, thank you so much for sharing. They are all important, especially the customer service and the high quality. Those, I think, are some of the most important things to a successful business. When we do shows, we have many repeat customers year after year. With the 7 steps you mentioned above, you will create a good following of loyal customers.

  • ene Obute says:

    Tnk you so much for these,its really informative

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