Knowledge Centre - Jewellery Making as a Business

We have assembled an assortment of questions we have been asked on the subject of starting a jewellery making business..

hi there,    

  I've been a customer of bead addict probably for about 4 years now and I was wondering if you could give me some advice.  Basically, I work full time as a carer but am gradually trying to build my jewellery business. Its really difficult because Im determind to make it work but things like morgage and general finances get in the way!
Like yourself Im addicted to semi precious, murano and STS. currently do a craft fayre 1st sat of every month in a little but popular country market, the odd commisions and jewellery party. When I have enough money I add another bit of kit i.e a display bust, bead container etc. Its all very slow and of course have no website or brochure yet which customers keep asking if Ive got.  
Anyway, im waffling on a bit into too much detail. Just wondered if you had any key pointers for business start up really. ive gone to a business link free business start up course and that was all very motivational and inspring but I think id like to hear some real tips from someone whos done it. Also Im having trouble with a few little annoying things such as people buying the matching earrings of necklaces ive made and then the next person coming along and going ' do you have earrings to match this necklace?'. Im trying to figure out whether to just sell them as a set (but then you have people who dont wear earings)or telling them that i can make earrings made to order. Its little things like that isnt it?   Anyway, bet your really busy so ill leave it at that, dont worry if you cant reply.

  thanks, jenny    

Dear Jenny  

I think one of the ways to work on this type of business is to realise it will build slowly - over time you will have a 'core' group of customers who will feed into your core group by introducing others - although I have a website, I do not actively publicise it because of course BeadAddict has been our core business and SLC Designs just feeds into it as and when - so far I have not felt the need for advertising, though I think in the right places it is a good idea.   You could try approaching local mixed-media galleries or places such as beauticians who seem to have captive audiences with people wanting to spend money - in this case of course you will find that at least 50% of your price will go to the shop, so you need to bear that in mind when pricing your work.  

Pricing your work is a tricky one - you need to be able to identify what exactly you have used in your pieces and to be able to price each piece - then you need to be able to accurately gauge the time you have put into a piece and give a value to this time - the way I did this was to buy an egg-timer and time exactly how long it took me to make a piece - not necessarily the first piece you make of that design, because of course you are casting around for beads and stones and that takes longer, but certainly once you have established how that design looks, then you need to know how long exactly a piece will take you to make; so you have a raw cost - but you have still not made any profit on your time or your materials, so you need to add a profit margin - whatever seems right to you, but certainly not under 50%....and then, if you plan to sell wholesale, you need to add a margin (usually 50%) to be able to give that to the shop and ensure YOU still make money.  

Photography on any website you have is the absolute paramount important item - you can have great items with poor photography and they can go for nothing, and vice versa - also, when you do sell something, keep the person's contact details by taking their name and e-mail address - this will allow you to periodically give them a 'deal' - like a voucher for instance, and when things are slow, this is a good way to go - remember - you are therefore taking perhaps 20% off your wholesale margin so you are still up on your profit, and you could go up to a 50% discount without hurting your bottom line too much - but be very very careful about doing this, even now I KNOW I still have not got the sums right, and I know I am not valuing my time correctly so although you can get extra sales,  if you are not absolutely 100% on calculating your margins, then this can hurt your business.  

Besides keeping your customers on board, you can do things that take a little extra time but make things special for the customer - you can gift-wrap your jewellery with your own hand-made paper, include a few sprigs of fresh lavender and a ribbon and this looks and smells wonderful - put a small card inside the envelope thanking them for their custom - you will be surprised how much a little attention to detail goes a long way.   As for your specific enquiry regarding sets - these can be a real horror - my advice is if at all, don't offer sets - and whilst yes, I do, there is another approach to it - you could try selling a bracelet for instance and offer a 'free' pair of earrings - this way the customer goes away happy that they got a deal - if you do want to sell a bracelet with a matching pair of earrings separately, make two pairs of earrings and then you usually will find someone else who will buy the extra pair - I find set sales slow even though I know if I were to charge for the bracelet and earrings separately, it would be less than the price I have stated if I would ask if I were to sell the items individually, but sometimes, things just belong together.    

As for further information, I can recommend a book by Vicki Lareau - 'Marketing and Selling your Handmade Jewelry' that we have on the website under our books section, and also recently I found a helpful website which might be of some use.   This is a huge area bogged down with all sorts of pitfalls - I really don't expect to become rich from handmade jewellery, but the whole point is that when I make it, I do what my soul needs me to do, and that is worthwhile.  

Hope the above helps

Kind regards Stephanie


I wonder if you can tell me if you offer trade or wholesale accounts?   

Many Thanks Tracey    

Dear Tracey,  

We are a retail business and offer discounts on orders over £60 plus free postage over £100.   Since many of our items are handmade we are unable to obtain in the quantities necessary for wholesaling.  However we can make specific quotations for factory/ mass produced items such as Swarovski beads and certain Sterling silver findings such as headpins, bolt rings, round beads, crimps etc, provided you wish to purchase in the factory produced minimum quantities.   We would be pleased to make a quotation if you let us know your requirements.  

Kind Regards,   Mark


can you tell me whether you also sell to the trade?  

Many thanks,   Raelene    

Dear Raelene,  

We supply to all customers, however we are not a wholesaler. We can supply some factory made items at a bulk discount if you have a specific enquiry please let us know.  

Regards,   Mark


 hi there i was just looking at your bead website, "beadaddict" and i have  just seen a lot of beads that are just what i am looking for, hand made,  good quality and most of all "DIFFERENT" i am in the middle of setting up  a jewellery design business, and i am sourcing a number of wholesalers to  purchase from. I am very interested in setting up an account with you;  would you be interested in being one of my suppliers? and if so it would  mean posting to Australia. you can not find beautiful silver pieces like you have in Australia contact more asap  thank you    


Dear Heidi,  

We supply to many jewellery designers both within the UK and worldwide, shipping to Australia is no problem.   We are not a wholesaler, but do offer discounts on all orders over $60.  

Regards,   Mark