Pricing Your Work

Pricing Your Work

Figuring out how to price your jewelry is one of the most difficult aspects of going into business and I often get questions about it. There are a lot of different formulas for that purpose floating around, but they tend to break down when applied to chainmaking because making chain is so much more labor intensive than some other types of jewelry work. When applying the same type of materials based formula that works well for bead stringing, a new chain maker might wonder, "How will I ever make any money at this?"

The answer requires a different way of thinking about your work. When I made straight chain for sale and used a formula, I calculated the price by the inch. Each weave had a different price per inch based on how time consuming it was to make. There's a balance between time and materials to take into account. Byzantine in 14g requires a lot of sterling by weight, but takes almost no time to make because the rings are so big. Byzantine in 22g takes very little sterling by weight, but it takes a long time to weave because the rings are so tiny. When first starting out, people tend to consider the cost of their materials more heavily than the cost of their time. As a person becomes more skilled and more confident in those skills, that balance shifts with the realization that your time is what's truly valuable because it's limited. Your potential ring supply is limitless, but your supply of time is fixed, making time the only true limiting factor in how much you can make and sell.

That realization usually signals a change in materials and pricing. The time and skill you put into a piece is the same no matter what grade of materials you're using, but you can command a much higher price for pieces made with the best quality precious metal rings and gemstones than you can get for pieces made with lower quality rings and lesser materials. In other words, using the best quality materials allows you to charge enough to get paid well for your time. Make sense?

At that point, you might stop using a formula and determine your price based on perceived value, instead, especially if your pieces are one of a kind. I now base my own prices on what the piece is worth to me, personally. At X dollars, I'm happy to sell the piece. Below X dollars, I'd rather keep it for myself. As a formula, it's more visceral than scientific, yet in an abstract way, it encompasses everything; the quality of the materials and the time involved to make it as well as the overall value of the piece.

As for your price range in actual dollar figures, that depends on your market. I wrote a piece about that entitled, Being Your Target Market, and you can scroll down to read it. *s*

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