Can we talk about the price of jewelry?

This always gives me pause for thought.  I don’t mean the kind of gold and diamond bling I see in Luk Fook every time I wander through Central Hong Kong; no I mean the prices I see whenever I browse through the shops on Etsy and Artfire and other homes for hand-made artisan created one-off stuff.  I often take a look through the jewelry shops not just through intrinsic interest, but also because I like to see what kinds of colours and cuts people are using, and I am constantly amazed by the low prices that so many artisans place on their work.  Not everyone, of course, but there are an awful lot of people offering hand-made jewelry for insanely low prices.  Can someone explain this to me?  I can’t understand how these artisans are even covering their costs, let alone their time.   I suspect that it is in many ways a function of sites like Etsy (and that it is not just jewelry that is prone to this kind of competitive undercutting); great though they are for establishing yourself and getting known, when you are in the same cyber space as many other people in the same business as you, there is constant downwards pressure on prices.  I do know that pressure; I felt it myself at first, until I realised that if your only USP is price, then someone will always undercut you. Pricing is difficult and it is a brave thing, sometimes, to price at something’s true value, but I know that if I am buying jewelry, I buy things I fall in love with.  Price is always a consideration of course (I love the Koh-i-noor diamond; it won’t be in my collection anytime soon!) but not the most important one.  Anyway, I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, I just think it’s an interesting issue, and I would love to hear some designers’ views.

About Julia Aufenast

I am a Hong Kong based professional gemstone supplier and GIA graduate gemologist. I specialise in rose cut cabochons as well as standard cabochons, and I have a carefully nurtured reputation for high quality. Currently I carry mainly semi-precious stones and I also have a range of pearls in white and natural colours; strings and half-drilled, round and keshi. This blog is attached to my website - www.joopygems.com - and is where you'll find information about new arrivals in my shop, discounts and offers, as well as an opportunity to leave comments and feedback.

2 Responses

  1. It’s a very fine line, Julia, as you well know. I have had many comments recently that my prices are ridiculously low for what I am offering and, while I do know that, I have to keep in mind what the market will bear. Thirty years ago when I was first starting out in making and wholesaling my silver jewelry, I was also counselling and had a lot of artisans as clietnelle and I found myself repeatedly advising them that they must NOT sell themselves short by grossly undervaluing their time and artistic gifts… they argued endlessly but often found tin the end, that raising their pries did not mean the end of sales, sometimes it was the converse as you say above. I try and price my items accordingly but with Etsy I find that I must be very careful and not overprice so I think I err on the side of caution when, perhaps, I should be tossing it to the wind! LOL If people only knew how much time, effort and love I put into those teensy little nose rings tht I create, they would be shocked… but the smaller the item the more labor intensive and this is not to mention that I’m a perfectionist! LOL In any case, after reading your entry, I will revisit (and perhaps revamp) my pricing, as the post has acted as a confirmation of what I’ve been feeling so I would like to thank you for the reminder! ;o)

  2. I completely agree with you Julie. Good point about the downward pressure from large sites with jewelers who want to make a sale more than a profit. I believe that my true customers will appreciate the uniqueness of my products and I price at what I feel is fair for my work, but that does take some courage. I sometimes hear sellers on Etsy ask other sellers if their prices are “right” and I always feel that only they can know the amount of work and raw materials that they put into it. Their question reflects this pressure to maintain low prices relative to others. Having a unique, high quality product and fantastic customer service, as you do, is always the best way to build a business.

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