Selling Beads vs. Selling Finished Jewelry?

by Rachel.

Selling Beads vs. Selling Finished Jewelry - discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

I am just starting out in trying to make money off of my creations.

I hand sculpt polymer clay beads and then use hemp cording to create necklaces and bracelets.

The issue is I’m not very good when it comes to turning the beads and cord in jewelry. I’m sure with more practice my techniques will improve.

But my question is:

Could I just sell the beads without turning them into jewelry? Or is it better to turn the beads into jewelry and sell the finished jewelry?

If you’ve had a similar experience, what did you do – and what was the result?


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  • Damola says:

    You can definitely sell the loose beads, but you’d be selling to a completely different market (jewelry makers) as opposed to those who would be looking for a finished piece.

    Because of that market different you would need to price your beads such that someone making finished jewelry with them could turn a profit based on their added value. On the other hand, if you are selling finished pieces, you could price the total piece higher and keep the profit for yourself. One thing that you can look at is the going price for polymer beads on a site like Etsy, vs. what finished pieces go for.


    Finished bracelets:

    Therefore, unless you can create beads in enough quantity that it makes sense to wholesale them, I think that it might make sense for you to learn to invest the time to create finished pieces from using your beads.

  • Great thoughts from Damola!

    Also, Rachel, another way to create more value from your beads is to create jewelry kits with them. (See my post, Putting Together Kits for Beading Parties.) Because even though you feel your jewelry techniques are not up to par, you still probably have a good sense of colors and components that would work nicely with the beads you make!

  • Colleen says:

    Why not sell both?! I like Rena’s idea too, sell kits.

  • Patti Panuccio says:

    Do both, but don’t sell yourself or your product short. If your beads are a work of art then price them as such.

  • Barbara Gene says:

    I agree, sell both, and price it as a piece of art.

  • Millie says:

    As a former jewelry designer I found myself with a enormous amount of cabochons, focal beads and beads. I got frustrated with the amount of money I way paying out for consignment fees in addition to a good friend who was seriously ripped off by a consignment store owner. Although I sold quite a bit of jewelry I did not have much success on the web, sales came more from the hands on sales.

    As a result I put a web site together and started liquidating my stash; that was several years ago and I still sell over the web.

    If you are going to sell your creations you will need a good stock of beads, including a variety of colors. You will need a good bookkeeping system, and a marketing plan. Your pricing will need to be fair and somewhat competitive, but please don’t underestimate your artistic ability. There are some very successful “bead creator” people, good luck to you whatever you decide.

  • Debra says:

    I like the ideas from other readers…do both! You can start out selling your beads until you feel your jewelry making technique has improved enough for your liking, then you can sell both. When I shop on Etsy for stones/gems/beads etc, I see plenty of shops that sell both components AND finished pieces. Good luck, Rachel!

  • Floria says:

    Hi Rachel, Lucky you to be so talented to create your own beads. My opinion is opposite everyone else’s, Do you LOVE making beads ? If so I would just keep making beads, discovering new ways, new methods, creating some of your very own ideas. You will be happy doing what you love to do without the stress of creating jewelry which you do not love doing. It is wonderful to have a hobby that you love and can’t wait to start each day. If you want to love doing it and make some money on the side ( and not get rich 🙂 You have then hit a home run. Why do I say this? Because I LOVE what I do and would not change it for the world not even money. Be happy.

  • Teri Hansen says:

    Hi Rachel;

    Reading the responses sounds like you have options…I believe what I would ask is which makes your heart sing the most? Then I would ask ‘do you have time for both’? Then ask yourself do you have time for both and marketing both?

    If you would rather spend what time you have making more and more beads then do you want to divide your time creating finished jewelry if in reality you’d rather be making more beads?

    But maybe you just make several of the same beads and create several different looks in finished jewelry. Then to go one step further, as Rena suggested, give the option of offering it as a kit.

    By spreading yourself too thin may rob you from the joy of each, unless you are great at time mgmt.

    There is another possibility of making the beads, showcase them in a completed design, as you accumulate the showcase of designs then have a trunk sale of your designs (say quarterly or???) when you are ready to change up your line.

    I believe you will find there is an audience for any of the suggestions. Let us know what you end up doing.

  • shelly says:

    I tried both but found i had more luck online selling beads or jewelry making supplies. However at local craft shows etc i had better luck with selling finished pieces.

  • Deb Hulsey says:

    I know that when I look at crafting a creative widget (whether it is jewelry, glass painting, scrapbooking, whatever!) I look for inspiration. When there are finished designs to trigger my imagination, I go to town! So I’m thinking that maybe you should do both – create finished pieces with your beads, or find other artists who can create the quality of designs you wish, utilizing your hand-crafted beads. Show these inspiration pieces along with kits made up of your beads in collections that go well together. You sell more product, offer inspiration on what can be done with your beads – a win/win!

  • This is an awesome group! I found value in all the comments/directions offered, especially from Teri who suggested doing what “makes your heart sing”. I make tons of jewelry (no joke), have a website, sell on Handmade at Amazon & eBay and my sales are very low…but, I don’t stress it because I love making jewelry.

    You can also sell online through Facebook. Test out the waters, and I agree “don’t sell yourself short”. Keep us posted!

  • Mary Happe says:

    I totally love making pretties and having bazaars to sell them at. But lately my hubby and I have been kicking around an idea to have a mobile bead store. We don’t have any stores locally and think this would make a great business.

  • Mary, that sounds like an interesting idea to explore – and nice that Hubby is on board with it too. I’d love to hear how this works out for you!

  • Stacy says:

    Millie can you recommend a place for me to sell beads on online? My mother passed away recently and was starting to try to do beadwork and now we have a huge drawer full of different sizes and shapes and material of beads that we need to sell

  • Hi Stacy, I’m so sorry for your loss.
    This post may help you find homes for those beads and other jewelry supplies:

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