Profiting from Jewelry That’s Time Consuming to Make

by Rena Klingenberg. © 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved

Profiting from Jewelry That's Time Consuming to Make, by Rena Klingenberg - Jewelry Making Journal

What if your jewelry is very time consuming to make – so it’s difficult to price it high enough to compensate you for all the hours you put into it?

For example, artists who create with seed beads often face this issue.

It can take a long time to make a jewelry item with bead weaving or other techniques that involve seed beads.

And although people may love your creations, they may not be willing to pay for all the many hours that went into creating those pieces.

In the solutions below, I’m going to stick with our example of seed bead artistry – but these tips can apply to other forms of jewelry making too.

5 Ideas for Profiting from
Time Consuming Jewelry Artistry:

  1. Make small works of art (such as a 1” or 2” piece), and put them in jewelry frames to be worn as pendants, brooches, charm bracelets, etc. Small pieces will take less time to create, and framing them gives the impression of a “masterpiece”.
  2. Create a natural path to your higher priced items. If you do make smaller, lower priced pieces (as mentioned above), think of them as a “starter” product line for customers to experience and own your art. These starter sales can lead your returning customers to purchase your higher priced, more time consuming pieces later.
  3. Create your own patterns and sell them. There are some nifty software programs that can help you turn your own design ideas into seed-bead patterns. And seed-beaders are always on the lookout for an exciting new pattern.
  4. Create commissioned seed bead artworks to commemorate people’s life milestones or sentimental occasions. For example – births, weddings, anniversaries, sweet sixteen birthdays, a family tree chart, etc. Your works may be wearable – or they may be more along the lines of small framed wall art or another type of ornament. People are often willing to spend more on keepsakes related to milestones or sentimental occasions.
  5. Teach other people how to create jewelry and other items with seed beads. There are always people who would love to learn a handmade art from your skills and experiences.

Also Important –
Educate Your Public

Help people understand what’s involved in designing and creating one of your pieces.

Show photos, a slideshow, or video of you working on one of your seed bead creations.

Discuss how much time went into each step of the piece in your demonstration.

Most people have no idea of what it takes (and how long it takes) to create one of these pieces.

And after seeing what’s involved, people are much more likely to appreciate and value the pieces you create.

What are your experiences with profiting (or not profiting) from jewelry that’s time-consuming to make?

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  • Karen Escalera says:

    Thanks for all the comments on pricing. I’m a novice wire weaver, intermediate jewelry beader, and experienced hobby collector. lol. I’m finally at a point where I”m building up my inventory to start selling and pricing has always been a mystery to me as I’m not number savvy! I’m learning lots from Rena and her followers, and I truly appreciate all the advice and knowledge which is shared.

  • Altagracia Vasquez says:

    Most of the jewelry I make take more than one hour from designing to finishing a piece. There are many times I come up with a creative idea but either it doesn’t work with the findings or other materials and supplies, or the concept didn’t turn out from what I expected, or something is missing to really make the piece worthy and had to change the creative concept either in the beginning, starting, or while making the jewelry piece. Like life, that’s just part of the creative process. I want to point out that coming up with a design that works and meets approval is labor and takes time.

  • Claire Weber says:

    One of the issues in selling beadwoven jewelry is competing with hobbyists selling their work for little more than the cost of materials and a few dollars per hour for labor. Finding one’s customer base is essential, also how the work is displayed is critical to create the perceived value necessary to justify the desired pricing for one’s work.

  • Mary Anne says:

    This article couldn’t come at a better time, Rena. As a life long artisan I did just about every craft there is on the planet (including selling many works) – except for free form seed beading. At age 62.5 I just did my very first free form seed beaded cuff…it’s very big, and took me 65 hours, (size 11 beads) and I got around another 3-5 hours to go before it’s finished. And then I want to do a matching ring. When it’s finished I will submit it here, Rena 🙂

    I absolutely love this form of bead work, and have many ideas, but there is no way to charge the time and skill put into such labor intensive pieces. That being said, there is something so wonderful about creating truly one of a kind works that no one else can or rationally would copy.

  • Bev Carlson says:

    Excellent comments and I agree with all. I do both chain maille and Kumihimo and are both time consuming. However, the comment that really bugs me is “You make all of this by yourself?” In all fairness there are many shows that have “buy – sell” vendors. Thus bringing something to work on is crucial. Plus it opens the door to people who may like to take classes if you teach.

  • Richard Canary says:

    I work with metal that I make from steel and aluminum cans with a routine I have established by trial and error. I usually make just one item at a time, but therein lies the problem of spending more time than is needed on each individual piece.

    If I were to produce pieces in batches of at least six similar pieces, I could save plenty of time by doing all my steps on six pieces at once. I rarely do so, but reading this fine article makes me think I’m making a big mistske by not doing the bulk processes most of the time.

    And it benefits buyers by making lower prices available to them.

  • Richard, I appreciate your insights.

  • Mary Anne, I’m looking forward to seeing your seed beaded cuff! 🙂

  • Hi Rena and all! I am an artist doing both paintings and bead weaving. Most recently as part of the same works of art (my new series). A long while ago I tried making patterns and tutorials using my (perhaps now ancient) PhotoImpact graphics program. It was sooooo tedious. Most of my work takes a minimum of several hours to more than several months. I work big and intricately. I do have older pieces that are smaller (a few hours to several hours) as well as “entry level” earrings ($15.00) but I’m still trying to find my target audiences. I’ve tried kits (I hate counting seed beads) but there’s still the pattern problem; I’ve tried educating people but I’m not taken seriously (seed bead work still has to contend with the slave labor cheap quality but still very pretty overseas stuff); I’m at a loss.

    The undercharging hobbyists don’t help, either.

    And about ready to panic. (Not giving up, however.)

  • Patricia, every one of your pieces that I’ve seen is intricately designed and meticulously made – a treat to experience in our “hurry-up” world.

  • Angela Bradley says:

    Hi Patricia
    About counting seed beads for kits: you can now purchase digital microbalances cheaply (£4 ish) which weigh to 0.01g. Count out 50 beads and weigh them, then weigh out subsequent loads for kits according to that ratio (adding a small margin for error)
    For example, say 50 beads weighs 1.06g, then 400 beads weighs 8.48g so weigh 8.52g to be on safe side.
    I would put a note with the beads in my stash about the weight: number ratio for future reference.
    This should be pretty reliable for beads with good manufacturing tolerance (eg miyuki) but I would give a larger margin for error if beads vary more.
    Good luck with your endeavours
    Angela x

  • Elaine says:

    I am so happy to find your blog! There is a huge craft fair in my town this weekend that draws 5,000 people and I’ve always been shy about pricing my crocheted beaded necklaces and bracelets high enough. I’m going to take a big gulp and follow your advice. Also, I love the part about educating the shopper, and so I’m going to make some CRAFT TRIVIA cards to set around my booth discussing the work and time that goes into making a piece of jewelry.

  • Elaine, wishing you all the best at your upcoming show!

  • Yve says:

    The reason hobbyist charge so low is because in order to qualify as hobbyist they must stay below a certain profit margin by law. Even hobbyist have to report their earnings on annual tax preparation. So they take into consideration every step from start to finish in order to maintain the legal limit of profit which partly defines the hobby craft. For the most part they are not trying to undercut, they just love hobby crafting and have no desire to take it to the next level. For all hobbyist I sincerely apologize. If it makes it any easier we do share common traits like a love for artesian crafts! Be blessed and let’s look on the bright side which is the fulfillment of being able to do what we love and at the same time give joy to others!😇

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