Pricing Handmade Jewelry Too Low

by Rena Klingenberg.

(A pretend jewelry ad I created to illustrate our discussion.)

Pricing Handmade Jewelry Too Low, by Rena Klingenberg

Many artists make the error of pricing their handmade jewelry too low.

Often it’s for one of these reasons:

  • They don’t value their own talent. They feel “lucky” to sell one of their pieces at any price, even if the sale barely covers the cost of their materials.
  • They believe their jewelry is “unworthy” of netting higher prices.
  • Their well-meaning friends and family (who don’t know anything about the handmade jewelry market) urge them not to “risk failure” by setting their prices too high.
  • If their jewelry isn’t selling, they assume it’s because of the pricing – so the first thing they do is drop their prices.
  • Their financial situation makes them desperate to make a sale, so they hesitate to put higher prices on their work for fear of scaring customers away.
  • Their jewelry involves a time-consuming technique – but they feel uncomfortable charging for their time. (If this is your issue, be sure to see my post, Profiting from Jewelry That’s Time-Consuming to Make.)
  • They’re not sure how to price handmade jewelry.

Tip: If you’re not sure how to price your handmade jewelry profitably, please see my Jewelry Pricing Formula.

But why not charge low prices for your handmade jewelry?

I’m going to share some of my thoughts here, and then I hope you’ll leave a comment below to share your thoughts and experiences regarding low prices on handmade jewelry!

Working Harder to Earn Less

Pricing handmade jewelry too low means the artist may have to make and sell 5 pieces of jewelry to earn $50, rather than earning the same $50 for just 1 piece.

When jewelry artists set themselves up to work harder while earning less, it’s not a sustainable way to run a business.

Sooner or later the overworked artist tends to either burn out, or shut down the business because it’s not profiting enough to stay afloat.

Growing the Wrong Customer Base

Under-pricing handmade jewelry also means that artists tend to attract a customer base that consists of “bargain shoppers” rather than “handmade jewelry shoppers”.

That makes it hard for the artist to raise their prices without losing a big portion of their customer base.

It Devalues the Overall
Handmade Jewelry Marketplace

When some artists get into low-price wars, or try to compete with cheap imported jewelry, it can hurt other jewelry artists’ sales.

Unrealistically low prices can cause some customers to equate “handmade” with “cheap pricing”, and pass up jewelry that’s priced higher and more realistically.

Undercutting other jewelry artists doesn’t do you or your fellow artists any good.

You Don’t Want to Make
This Kind of Jewelry Sale:

I’ve seen some jewelry artists actually buy other artists’ low-priced jewelry … specifically to take it apart and remake the components into a much higher-priced piece of jewelry!

The under-pricing artist is thrilled to make a sale – but has no idea their creation is being bought as a cheap source of jewelry supplies.

Don’t let that happen to you!

The Best Way to Increase Your Jewelry Sales:

The best way to sell more jewelry is to raise your prices.

That may sound counter-intuitive, but when people see higher prices, they feel that the product is higher quality and more special.

And that translates into jewelry that’s more desirable in the customer’s eyes.

But when people see low prices, they feel that the product is lower quality and less special – so shoppers are more likely to pass by without considering making a purchase.

Try raising your prices and see what happens!

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  • Ruth says:

    My only two cents – Jewelry is in the eyes of the buying public expensive. They don’t blink when it comes to spending thousands of dollars on a diamond ring. So, I have no problem charging a reasonable price for my jewelry. I just look at it as this is my version of a expensive jewelry …in necklace or bracelet form and charge accordingly!

    If your jewelry is priced incorrectly the buyer feels they are buying a cheap piece of jewelry and doesn’t give it the respect it deserves! A jewelry store on the corner will price their products about 7-10 times above cost..ie an item that costs about 10 dollars wholesale will be marked up anywhere from 70 to 100 dollars.

    Your jewelry is not any less quality than the local jeweler. Yeah they have diamonds, but they also have semi precious gem stones and CZ’s and lessor beads. They may have lots of gold, but they also have silver and copper and silver plated stuff and they mark it up too.

    If you consider yourself a traveling jewelry store, or a jewelry store using a different method of delivery then you should have no problem marking up your product correctly!

  • Jessica says:

    I am relatively new to selling my jewelry, I just started my business in January of this year and I have been devouring any article about pricing.

    Time and time again I find comments similar to those posted here; mostly that you cannot undervalue your work and the effort and time you put into it.

    One of the most recent things I discovered is the sometimes pitfall of agreeing to wholesaling. I will be the first to admit that I should raise my prices, as a matter of fact I just raised all my prices a little and have plans to raise them more (think baby steps here!).

    One of the tidbits that was just hammered home to me was that if a wholesaler viewed your site and wanted to purchase some of your items they would likely expect 1/2 or less of whatever your listing price is on your site.

    Right now my pieces are priced to make a small profit, but cut those prices in half and I’m getting paid for the materials and maybe a couple minutes of work – not good!

    I took the plunge and listed two pairs of earrings that normally I would have listed for around $30 and listed them for $58 (yes I know still not high enough but I’m working on it, really I am!).

    Imagine my surprise when those earrings became the most popular item in my shop! No, they haven’t sold, but they have lots of fans and are getting tons of views, who knew…

    So thus begins my price war I must wage with myself – guilt and undervaluing yourself is out the door and real math and formulas are in. I’m going to give it a spin and see where it takes me, my time and effort are worth it!

  • Rain says:

    When I started selling my work, I know I was underpricing it. Many of the supplies I used were ones I bought at full price for myself – I didn’t intend to resell them, so I was probably doubling my cost. I was also timid about asking higher prices. Now that I’ve been selling for a while, I buy my supplies almost exclusively wholesale, so I can keep my costs down. I ALWAYS at least triple my cost. Always. If it’s something with seed beads or that was quite inexpensive, I price it to what I think is a fair price. There are some necklaces for sale on my site that probably cost me $8 to make, but I charge around $70. If I make a wrap bracelet with a strand of beads that cost me $6, I charge $42. I think that’s fair and takes my time into account.

    At this point, I focus on well-made pieces with non-precious metals. I’ve recently been moving into higher price ranges. Still, if a pair of earrings takes less than 5 minutes to make and costs maybe $2, I won’t charge over $12. I’ve sold other pairs for more than twice that, but they either had higher priced materials or they took longer to make. If and when I’m able to use Sterling components, I’ll raise my prices to reflect that.

    I think there will always be people who think my prices are too high and those who think they’re too low. For me, as long as I’m making a good profit, I’m happy. The 3X formula works for me: 1/3 pays for the supplies, 1/3 pays me and the other 1/3 pays any other expenses, if there are any.

    I had a woman approach me about a necklace (one of the pieces that was way underpriced already, btw) three consecutive weekends at a regular show I did. She asked me several times if I’d go lower on the price. I said no, that the price was already as slow as I would go. After the third time, when I offered to give her a discount on the matching earrings and she still didn’t buy, I knew she wasn’t going to buy anything unless I really lowered the price. I later sold the piece for what I was asking AND I sold the earrings for full price too.

    I think that, if someone is going to buy your work, they’re going to buy it.

    It’s frustrating to do shows alongside people who sell their work for next to nothing. You just have to ignore that and hope people see the quality in your work and know its value.

  • marlene strait says:

    Years ago, about 1996-1997 I read an article that said if things aren’t selling, RAISE THE PRICE. I was doing a show and talking to a competitor. Our designs are different and so are the materials used. I told her about the Raise the Price idea. Later in the day she came back and said ” It sold” she went on to tell me that she had a piece that had been in inventory way to long, but she decided to raise the price and try the theory. Well she sold it and the customer gladly paid the asking price. Just goes to show you don’t know until you try.

  • Robin says:

    This discussion has given me much food for thought. I’ve been creating hand made jewelry pieces for about 2 years now. It’s been a slow road of marketing and blogging and selling. It’s very hard for me to put a price on my items but with the tips here I think I will finally come to terms with it all ~ Thank you!

  • Haley says:

    I have been struggling to price my jewelry. I have found many formulas on how to price things, and make a profit, but i guess i fall into these categories
    “They don’t value their own talent. They feel “lucky” to sell one of their pieces at any price, even if the sale barely covers the cost of their materials.
    They believe their jewelry is “unworthy” of netting higher prices.”
    every time i get a price down i end up thinking “thats too high, itll never sell” and end up lowering it, and then guess what it doesnt sell!
    I recently got an offer to put my items in a store in NYC (im in CA) but dont have my prices lined up, so that has set me back and i have not been able to put my items in the shop yet, and i cant until i get my prices locked!
    im having so much trouble with this.

  • Good topic, and very helpful! I was looking for advise for a jewelry making starter and I totally agree with your article. If the own work is not priced correctly, the chances are that the items would not sell. Lowering the price is not always the case.
    As for jewelry handcrafting which includes beadweaving or/and wirework, makes a lot of hours of working, a lot of quality materials, so the price will be higher that a regular resale item made at a factory and sold as fashion jewelry.

    I think it is hard to sell a quality item, where you put a minimum effort of 16+ hours of tidious work (beside design and creation of unique items). My ideea is to have more types of handcrafted jewelry, where you spend less time but they may look beautiful and useful, such as stringing, for a certain group of customers (youth).

    I have noticed on Etsy unique designs and beautifully crafted, but they sell on close to 1000$ as per necklace. I imagine, they do not sell fast. My thinking is to be able to create also a line of less expensive jewelry, a different style maybe and addressed to a different group of customers. That would make the sales easier.

  • Another thought: Beware of sales of handcrafted jewelry coming from Eastern countries. Sometimes they are made of very good materials and a lot of creation and work in put into it. Yet they sell perhaps 3-5X times lower than the regular priced for similar items. I have seen that on Etsy and eBay too.
    I understood the ideea that their countries the gaining is much less, but if they sell and ship worldwide, they should adjust the price in accordance to the online market.

  • Cat says:

    I like to have a range of items at different prices in my online shop, so I can catch people with every budget. I’ve got some expensive one-off designs made with high end materials and sometimes DAYS of my time gone into them, I’ve got some mid range items that take a few hours and are mostly made to order, unless I’m preparing for a craft show, and then I’ve got some cheaper items that I can make within 20 mins to a few hours, and I often make a large stock of these over the course of a day or two. My wire “love” rings are a great example of this! They take me ten minutes to make, the material is wire which is really cheap as materials go and because the design is so unique and appealing, I can charge double what I normally would for my time!

  • Linda Harrison says:

    Hi There
    I just want to say there is pricing to make a profit and pricing to gouge… There is a gal that does a few of the same markets as me that prices her neckalaces $15.00 to $25.00 more than mine and i know where she got her beads as like most we shop at some of the same places her hourly wage must be huge. Anyway what do you do in that case are people going to think my quality is not as good. This has been my most difficult challenge with priceing.

  • Hi Linda, You’re absolutely right that lower prices tend to make people think that a product is lower quality – while higher prices give people the impression of higher quality.

    If the other gal’s jewelry is somewhat similar to yours, has similar components, and people are buying her jewelry at her higher prices . . . that means you should probably be putting higher prices on your jewelry too. You may even want to try your prices a bit above the other gal’s pricing, and see what happens! 🙂

  • JR says:

    Regarding the early post regarding the sweet lady underselling her jewelry and the “limited income” of people in retirement homes. Many are on “fixed” incomes that exceed any of our annual incomes. There are “fixed” incomes of $1400 a year, and “fixed” incomes of hundreds of thousands a year.

  • Jenifer says:

    It’s valuable to note that you can’t just raise your prices if you’re throwing your jewelry down on a blanket on the ground to sell. Marketing your jewelry and creating a cohesive theme and aesthetic at your booth are often times MORE important than the jewelry itself. People will pay what you TELL them you are worth, and you tell them what you’re worth by the way you dress and the way you present your final product.

  • I’m an artist and market myself thusly. I’ve made the decision to abandon lower end jewelry because I have no interest in it. I want to spend my time on creating a body of work museums would be interested in. As for determining prices, well, fine art should certainly be priced higher than whatever they are charging in those knock-off stores. As for my lower end pieces, as gorgeous as they are, I plan on using them as gifts for my clients and other deserving people.

  • Jerri Maulik says:

    Well like everyone else, I have pricing issues. This year I used a formula and stuck to it, and my jewelry was a bit more expensive, I have a wide range of items so I can find a price to fit everyones pocketbook. But just last night I was invited to a Silpada jewelry party and the people around was saying the same thing…too high of prices, etc. so they were the same people that WEREN’T interested in buying ANYTHING. When I put a piece of jewelry up for sale, its hard to let go, but I enjoy the thrill and excitement that comes from a customer who purchases it. Ive had many pieces that people told me it was TOO HIGH, then the next customer came by, fell in LOVE with the necklace and purchased it without even knowing the price. If the piece “talks” to you, it doesnt matter. The people that try to beat you down to a lower price usually are the people that HAVE money. You just have to step back, not take the comments personally, (you do have to keep any suggestions in mind to consider at a later date) and move on. If you have quality pieces, they will sell and when you have items too cheap,,,,,people will NOT think it is quality items. So hang in there, smile and wait for the correct customer for your jewelry!!!

  • Josephine says:

    I am with. Pricing Barbra!!! I also though the same way since. I don’t bye expensive Jewelry. Why should I sell it expensive but I also like expensive jewelry. But sense I ran across this site. It starting to make sense to me
    I just started doing jewelry about a month now. Selling it cheap does make a different. Cause now you or related to selling cheap jewelry. And that is not the purpose when you trying to make a business of it. You don’t want to be know by that. But I also though about. The costume jewelry you can go bye for a Dollar will my jewelry be look over because of that.

  • Brittany says:

    Thank you so much for the formula. Extremely helpful. I was wondering if you thought that the same formula be applied for high end fine jewelry as well? For example; let’s say the materials totaled $5k would you still x4 plus labor and all else? Or is there a different formula at certain price breaks? Thanks in advance for your input. Looking forward to hearing your response.

    -Brittany

  • AfriArtisan says:

    Very good article and formula. We are just starting up and on looking round so many good pieces are priced too low and then there is the competition from the mass produced industrial stuff.
    We are definitely going to adopt your formula and work on our SEO and marketing.

  • Sarah King says:

    My mother makes jewelry and sells it at a small store down town. All of her stuff sells pretty well but she is making a total of like a hundred bucks a month and it is because she sells everything for just a little bit more than it cost to make. She really enjoys doing it and I think that she wouldn’t mind making a little bit more money. Thank you for posting this, I will have to show her that she could be selling her things for a lot more money!

  • Crystal Huang says:

    How do I know the right price for handmade jewelry? The kind we make is origami jewelry – is it different from the kind many people mention?

  • Crystal, thanks for asking! Please see my Jewelry Pricing Formula – it should help you figure out your pricing. 🙂

  • cheryl says:

    Great article, good info. I agree with not pricing too low. I did that when I started out before I understood and felt my own worth. I think a lot has to do with self worth and confidence in your work. Sometimes I do lower my prices just to make a sale, not as much now but I admit I do that at times if I need the money.

    I also have first hand experience of too low a price d reducing the value of your pieces. I made more sales when I raised some prices.

    It’s a challenge at times finding that balance – we want to make money but don’t want to scare off customers. I like what you wrote about attracting a lower priced customer base. When I find myself pricing lower, I remember this and do some visualization about higher end customers who want unique handmade pieces and are willing to pay for them. Mindset and feeling worthy are key.

  • Dawn Carpino says:

    Thanks for bringing up this subject. I’m about to do my first show and struggling with pricing my jewelry correctly. I’ve been looking at similar styles on Etsy to get a feel for what similar things are selling for. Sometimes I am amazed at how much someone is asking for something – like a skeleton key on a plain chain for $38.00. And then how someone can make a profit by selling things at what I consider too low – like $10.00 for Lucite flower dangle earrings. And, I was selling at a consignment shop but am going to try the craft show as it’s hard to make a profit when I have to only accept 60% of what the jewelry sells for. At one of the shops someone was selling peyote bracelets for $25.00. So they would only get 60% of that. I know if I made one of those bracelets it would take hours. How can sell stuff so cheap? Just venting, thanks for reading.
    Dawn Carpino
    Endless Possibilities

  • Colleen says:

    Great article! This has been the hardest part of crafting for me. I would rather spend hours on a difficult project than come up with a price for it, scares the daylights out of me. I even go so far as to let my best friend price things for me (she was in retailing for years). I have a war with my conscious with charging a high price for something that only took an hour to make and the materials were pretty cheap. I just got into pour painting too and am facing the same problem with pricing. So with all that being said, I guess I will go back and review my pricing. Thank you Rena for adding this article!

  • Colleen, you’re very welcome! And be sure to check out my Jewelry Pricing Formula to help you with your pricing.

  • Katie VanPatten says:

    Thanks, Rena, for keeping this issue at the forefront of jewelry artists minds. I make extremely time consuming, one of a kind, bead woven designs that I usually sell in sets (a bracelet and earrings for example). I also strive to use the highest quality components that I can find and don’t always buy in bulk or wholesale due to the OOAK nature of my jewelry. Although it sounds prohibitive due to cost, I have found that at craft fairs in my area (I live near Flint, Michigan), I am almost always the only artist selling this type of jewelry. Although my jewelry is priced way higher than the “competition”, I have found that customers are willing to pay for the quality and time that goes into creating my jewelry. I’ve also found that in a way….I actually have no “competition” because most every other artist is trying to compete for customers in the low prices category. Sure, most people around here may want to buy a lower priced piece….but I automatically get every customer that doesn’t. That being said, I don’t believe in price gouging either. I try to put a fair price on all of my pieces and have found Rena’s formula to be extremely handy. The only thing that I change is that I double the cost of my components (instead of quadrupling them) if I have paid a retail cost versus wholesale. Also, for this strategy to work, you must have unique, well designed pieces that are executed extremely well.

  • Katie, thank you for sharing your jewelry pricing experiences, and how you customize the pricing formula for your business.

  • Nata says:

    How I agree with ALL of you, and Thank you, Rena, for bringing up this conversation. Yes, yes, and yes! I’ve been all over the place with my prices since I started selling my jewelry on Etsy. I tried to raise prices, I tried to lower them, I tried to introduce the “introductory” prices, I tried coupons, sales, free shipping … I do get a lot of Ohhh and Ahhh, and all kinds of Likes and compliments, but my sales are very slow and actually I had zero sales in the past 6 months at all. I realize it is impossible to make a living, well, at least in my genre (bead embroidery), simply because it is so time- and labor consuming (and therefore costly!), and unusual (it doesn’t fit into our today’s mostly “disposable consumption fast-pace living style of deals and bargains”), and the most successful artists who do get rewarded for their efforts are mostly those who made a HUGE name, won awards, published books, and now are mostly teaching workshops and selling kits. Anyway, I came to a realization that there is NO one rule that works for every situation. Yes, you may say I burned out, but that also gave me the freedom of realizing that I will not “get rich” with my work no matter how hard I work (and in fact the harder I push through the less rewards I receive!), so now, that the “business” aspect is out of the way I’ve decided to go where my artistic inclination will take me and not worry about making something that someone might buy, but whatever my Soul wants to create. Maybe I made a wrong decision to start a business to begin with, who knows. It’s not easy out in the world of jewelry making today, ladies. I salute you ALL for trying! Do not give up, and Good Luck!

  • 30 some years ago, back when Rhinebeck was still in Rhinebeck NY, I was working as a manager for a cottage industry stuffed animal company. I had a chance to walk around and see some of the other vendors for a few brief minutes. There was a potter that I had a very interesting conversation with about pricing and customers.

    A customer had waltzed into his booth, airily surveyed the potters work, which was really out of the ordinary really large pieces, a lot of hand work on top of the hand thrown pieces. Before inquiring anything else about the artist’s work, the customer wanted to know how much better the artist could do on the price. My new artist friend promptly replied that he would be happy to sell his work to them for triple the price!

    So, if you get an obnoxious customer, there you go. That’s how you give them a better price. Better to you!

  • Altagracia Vasquez says:

    I noticed this on Etsy but what people have to learn is that when you buy a jewelry from Eastern countries at a low price in USD, they actually get more profit because they have to convert to their monetary. That’s what I learned.

  • Altagracia Vasquez says:

    I invested in myself and making jewelry. I brought my beads, findings, and tools and made a good amount of jewelry before I start setting up my shop at Etsy. I thought I simply would make jewelry, have a jewelry entrepreneur business, and sell my jewelry to earn a profit and a living. By reading information and articles on how and what I need to start a business, I learn it takes a lot more than making jewelry and selling them. Time and effort is also put into marketing and advertising – takes time and effort to market each piece on Etsy and other websites and social media, researching, supplying and stocking, packaging and shipping – I design and make my own jewelry boxes, pillow boxes, and small pouch bags and I have to weight the whole package so I could be able to put the weight for each jewelry pieces on Etsy so customers could pay for the shipping and not me, sending out “thank you” postcards, business card (I design and created), accounting/bookkeeping/invoicing, and applying for certification and filing taxes quarterly and annually. Others have to travel, sell “door-to-door”, set up trade/case shows. All this has to be taken into account and it takes time, effort, and patience. We are not just jewelry designers and makers nor is that the only thing we do. When we put so much effort into the jewelry process and selling, our time and our creation are valuable and our beautiful work deserves to be sold at a higher and good price. That’s it. It is a gift to create wonderful pieces for people to enjoy, treasure, and look good.
    The best to all of you, very creative and talented people!

  • Alysen says:

    One reason I didn’t see in the ‘whys’ is buying gemstones & supplies at a low wholesale price and not marking up properly. Just because you BOUGHT at a good price doesn’t mean you should SELL at a reduced price! Calculate using the Original price, whether retail or before quantity discounts, etc.
    I make jewelry with different selling points, depending on the price of the metal and gemstone and/or other supplies. Sometimes I use ceramic or glass components. And I ALWAYS ADD the time it takes to handcraft the piece in my selling price.
    Too many people have gotten used to buying cheap imported jewelry & clothing and don’t recognize a unique, artisanal, handcrafted item for it’s value. Unfortunately, some sellers have gotten lured into that trap also.. it makes it much harder for those of us who value our craftswomanship 🙂 !!

  • Good point, Alysen! I agree. Thanks so much for adding that to our discussion!

  • I’ve been collecting beads, findings, etc for at least 20 years, so pricing the components in my jewelry is next to impossible, unless I recently bought the components, or they are easy to find current prices for, like sterling ear wires or Swarovski crystals. I price according to the market – meaning I check out similar types of jewelry on the net (like on Etsy) and get a feel for average prices. I can raise or lower if I used time consuming or expensive components, or old components that I knew were less expensive. For my own hand made components I can decide my price based on the work I put into it. This has worked well for me over the years. All of my pieces are OOAK, so people buy based on what they like and how the piece attracts them. They seldom quibble over prices.

  • Bridigitte says:

    I am glad I read this article I have been designing Jewerly for over 30 years off and on and in the last 5years I have been bless to own a boutique and my prices are not discount prices and my neighbor makes jewerly as well and we may have some of the same beads and she prices her Jewerly bargain store prices I feel bad for her because as you mentioned people attend to shop for quality and her store is loaded with Jewerly you can’t hardly move around and she has cute styles but low self esteem.

  • Crystallized Gems says:

    Ruth, The problem is getting people like shops & boutiques (who only believe we are deserving of consignment) to get with the program! IF they take our stuff, they want to sell it cheap or won’t take it at all because of our deserving higher price point. Makes me so mad when they say No to handling my work yet they sell $200+ blouses, etc.
    Where in the world can we find wholesalers for our work?? Seriously, let me know.

  • Sheila says:

    Very good advice. If you price your items too low, it de-values their worth. What happened to my neighbor is a good example
    She no longer needed a fairly nice baby bed, so she put it in her front yard with a sign that said “FREE”. The bed sat there for over a week with no takers. No one even stopped to ask about it. She finally replaced the sign with one that read “$50.00”, and someone stole it that same night. So regardless of what you’re selling, if you don’t value your items for what they are worth, other people won’t either.

  • Sheila, that’s a great example of perceived value and pricing! Thanks for sharing that!

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