But you are saying that it would diminish the reputation of your
work by providing the lowest estimate out of all the bids of the
most qualified jewelers.
If that becomes the objective, to win bids by offering the lowest
price and still maintain a reputation for the highest standards of
craftsmanship (like Tim and Jo have), no question about it. Their
reputation for unyielding dedication to outstanding craftsmanship is
going to take a hit.
It’s not really possible to be both the best and the cheapest, and
people instinctively know it. Trying to establish a reputation as
the “Cheapest of the Best” would only muddy the water and would
demonstrate a lack of true commitment to either one.
One of the truths that I have learned in my years in the jewelry
business is that no matter how inexpensive you can manage to be,
someone will always be able to under-price you. They’ll likely also
care a lot less about their reputation and their customer’s
well-being than you do, so they’ll have a real advantage. Trying to
compete on price is kind of like the old saw about wrestling with a
pig - you’ll get dragged down to the pig’s level, you’ll both get
dirty, and the pig likes it.
Does the concept of avoiding whatever might lower the perceived
value of your work include having a sale, offering the customer a
deal or selling in a craft fair?
One of the worst pieces of advice I got when I opened my retail
jewelry store was to never discount anything, it sends the wrong
message for your store’s brand. I won’t go into the reasons here,
it’s just too complex, but unless you are Tiffany and Co. or Rolex
and have a century or more of business reputation under your belt,
discounting is almost a necessity if you want to run a profitable
business that includes the selling of inventory. You can discount
your goods and still keep your reputation for the highest ethical
standards and the highest standards of craftsmanship. It can actually
help in that you also establish a reputation for pragmatism,
reasonableness and fairness. That said, it’s important to understand
that there are right ways and wrong ways to discount. But that’s
another subject that’s too deep to get into here.
The above really only applies to sales of finished goods, not
repairs and custom work. When a lower price is needed for these two
general catagories, I usually try to offer lower priced options
rather than to discount the price. “How about if we use SI clarity,
H/I diamonds instead of VS, E/F"or"14K instead of 18K?” for instance.
I also generally don’t discount my labor, but I will offer ways of
reducing the amount required.
The concept of perceived value makes sense if your work sells in
the 5 or 6 figure range. Does the concept also apply to work
selling in the 3 or 4 figure range where the customer has more
Absolutely! Maybe even more so because of the many choices. People
have a connection with their jewelry that is different from just
about any other physical object you can name. For instance, a $100,
10K gold ring received as a gift from a loved one becomes priceless
when that loved one passes on. The owner of that ring is not likely
to seek out the lowest priced place in town to size it for them,
instead they will ask people they know and do some research to find
someone they can trust.
Price is not nearly as important as a reputation for trustworthiness
and fine craftsmanship when it comes to creating and repairing the
personal possessions that people value the most.
On the other hand, someone looking for the absolute lowest price
they can possibly find for a pair of diamond studs is almost
guaranteed to seek the lowest possible price later when they are
looking for a gold chain, as opposed to returning to the place that
sold them the studs. You can treat them like they are the most
important person in the world with that stud sale, but when it comes
to their next purchase or need of service, all of your over-the-top
loving care of them and the extra attention to detail you paid to the
actual setting work will most likely be totally forgotten and
rendered irrelevant in the fervent new search to save $50.
Another truth I’ve learned along the way about pricing my work is to
never super-impose my value structure on others. It’s all relative.
$1000 may be a small fortune to you and me but it might be pocket
change for someone else. Never assume that you’re pricing something
beyond what someone else is willing to pay, just because it’s beyond
what you’d pay. I can’t afford to be one of my better customers and I
know a lot of other people in the trade that are in exactly the same
Sorry this is going so far off topic Lindsay, but that is often
where the real substantive discussions take place on Orchid. Hope you
don’t mind ~