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Am I being ripped off?

Hi everyone, I really need your advice.

I have been dealing with a bead-maker in India for the past few
years. I was introduced to him through a contact in the biz and
assure that he was an honest hard working man with a family
business. Although there have been delays with deliveries the
quality has always been good.

I decided to buy semi-precious beads directly from the maker because
I could not find beads here in the United states with holes big
enough to accommodate the headpins I was using. The shape of the
beads available here where not uniform either so, when I found that
he was able to resolve both of these problems I started working with

I make fine jewelry and use a lot of beads. Here is my worry:

He is charging me per bead and not per string, (which is usually the
case). I understand that there is a lot of labor involved in
producing beads but, his price is high.

He is charging me between 75c and 1.75 per bead/ for faceted beads
varying between 3mm and 4mm. The cut is nice and the hole is always
the right size. For smooth round beads he is charging 90c per bead
for Garnet and Amethyst. I have seen strings of smooth garnet beads
in NY for less than $15 but. of course they are not all the same
size or shape and may have the odd chip here and there. The smooth
rounds he makes are perfect.

I am happy to pay for the good work that he produces but, am I
paying too much? My orders have huge delays sometimes too…

Thanks for any advice you can offer in advance.

I’ll tell you what, “masked”, take a trip to India and look around. I
have, by the way. Go to the guy’s house and meet him. Then ask us if
you’re paying too much for the guy’s beads. Would you facet a bead
for a buck seventy five? I doubt it. I sure wouldn’t. You’ve been
happy with the beads you get from him all this time and I assume you
have made a profit from them. The beads you’ve gotten cheaper from
other sources were not as good but you want to pay the same for
better beads? Really! I’m done. Hope you got the message.

Jerry in Kodiak (where the salmon are running in the streams and all
is right with the world)

Greetings, O’ Masked Beader.

Well, if you can’t get the quality and consistency you want out of
the cheapo suppliers, you’ve just answered your own question.

Does his cost per bead adversely effect your ability to sell the
finished product in whatever market you’re in? (I’d guess not.) Does
his cost per bead adversely effect your ability to make a living
selling the finished product? (I hope not.) If the answer to both of
these is no, then it’s not an urgent problem.

Next question: Have you found another supplier who can make beads up
to the standards, with the holes you require? Is this other guy
cheaper? Because the cheapo $15/string guys don’t count. They’re not
making a product you can use, so the fact that the unusable thing
they do make is cheaper doesn’t matter.

If you’re concerned about getting ripped off, shop the job around.
See if anybody else can make beads you can use, at a better price.
If so, bring that to your guy’s attention.

Then you both have two choices: either he matches the price, or you
give the job to the other guy.

I’d suggest running a couple of trial orders thru the new guy
(assuming you find one) before you burn your bridges with your old
supplier. In a perfect world, use them both. You said your guy has
delays. OK, divide the orders and one of them should be
more-or-less on time. Never bet the farm on an untried supplier who
promises a wonderful price. We’ve all seen that movie before…



Price is a funny thing.

The question is can you make the profit you need to buying these
particular goods… That’s really the way to think about it.

If you can triple key that plus your labor and whatever additional
brand charge you have and still sell it… Then the price isn’t too
high. I’d you can’t then how close to that can you gete?

Is it worth the investment of money and time?

When my father first started out in the 70s he would make his own
karat gold, because he had more time then money and because it was
cost effective backthen. Now it’s not the case.

It sounds like you’re concerned that you might not be able to make
good on your investment.


Hmmmmm… Price, Quality, Service: Pick Two… or, sometimes you
only get to pick One.

J Collier Metalsmith

You are paying for consistent beads that fit your needs, you are not
charging enough to cover your cost. If it was available in North
America you would not complain.

You are not being ripped off.


I would love to know your supplier and get that contact info! I
would be happy to pay that for excellent quality custom beads. Best,

Sometimes the value of the hole being drilled just the right size is
as valuable as the cost of the bead.

I would contact someone like Stachura in Uxbridge, MA and talk with
Mary. She has encyclopedic knowledge of stones and beads. If it can
be found or drilled in the U. S. Mary will know.

Good luck, MA

He is making sure they are useable and of acceptible quality to your
needs those 15 dollars strands are not quality and the strands are
getting shorter every time I look 36 in went to 18 then to 9 and the
price has increased so I think bead buying is one of the most
problematic you need to know what they are selling.

72 beads in a necklace 54 dollars is pretty high if that cost does
not include shipping costs. If you are including the customs and
shipping fees then it is probably about right because the only way
to make it cheaper is to buy in extreme bulk

just my opinion


Dear Masked…You have what those of us always wanted. an Indian
dealer who provides you with fine, matched materials with larger
holes and predictable and consistent quality… to get this from
anyone in India is quite remarkable… have you shopped around? Most
dealers promise what you’re getting, but NEVER deliver it, and
you’re certainly not going to find perfection at shows. The delay is
probably caused by his trying to find and match up a strand of
roundels perfectly to suit. And, in Jaipur at certain times of the
year its 120 degrees for weeks on end and the cutters stand with one
foot in an ice bucket in their non air conditions cement "factories"

Yes, others charge less for beads, but they really don’t have any
standard they’re achieving in the strand. Unless you want to spend a
few years finding and trying other dealers (even going there, being
promised a certain quality in person, and being terribly disappointed
at what you receive later), you job is just to pray that this guy
lives forever.

if your customers are trained to appreciate the extra cost of
perfection and therefore willing to pay accordingly, I’d say that
you’re getting a good deal. To educate yourself further, go to an
International Gem Show, and just see if you can find ONE strand like
what you’re being sent.

I’ve ordered over $10,000 of beads from India in the last two years,
and never get perfection. I throw away about every other bead. And
the shipments are often delayed (several lingered in New York for
over a month with no explanation). No one even tries to promise me
any perfection, no matter what I’m willing to pay. You’ve got an
Indian to care about your standards, so explain to your customers
they’re getting the kind of beads in your work that everyone else
just dreams about, and enjoy the bigger profits that higher cost of
your beads bring.

Mary Jane St. Amand,

Thank you all, for your very positive feedback and knowledge.

It took me years to find my bead manufacturer. I always knew I was
lucky but, you have made me feel even more appreciative of his fine
work. Consistent quality is one thing that he does deliver every
time. I had so many disappointments with others over the years its
was mind numbing.

Weather temperatures and working conditions are a serious factor.
This year saw temperatures break all records so, that most definitely
caused delays and a lot of hardship. One thing that puts my mind at
ease is that I know that this is a family business and that all
members of the family work in good conditions with fair pay.

Thank you very much for being so kind and generous with your time.


Maybe this is the problem we are all facing. We want to pay as
little as possible for the highest quality we can get. If we see it
for a higher cost we comp[lain that we are being ripped off. We go
around whining (yes I mean that) about the cost to everyone who will
listen and we ruin the reputation of the seller. What you just read
is not about the bead seller it is about the buying public when they
see our work, and the cost. Are we any better than the bead seller
who puts out quality work and constant work? Are we worth the price?

BTW I too would love to have the bead sellers contact info. I use
the highest quality I can get, If I don’t sell a piece of work, I
wear it. I’m worth the best I can make!

Aggie on her summer time mountain top in a corseted costume.

When you keystone your cost of materials, the more your beads cost
the higher your profit. It’s all about perceived value in fine

“How much? Wow! Your jewelry must be really good.” Have fun and make
lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

I buy most of my diamond melee from Grunberger in Greatneck, NY. I
pay as much as twice as much per carat as I might if I bought from
someone else. I buy from them because when I order a carat of 1.6mm
VS E/F melee, I get a carat of 1.6mm VS E/F melee. Not a range from
1.45 to 1.75mm, or SI2 to VS1, or E to I, some with thick girdles and
some with thin or irregular girdles; every single stone is a 1.6mm,
VS clarity, E/F color, Ideal cut diamond with exactly the same
dimensions as every other diamond in the parcel. I can use one stone
to fit all of the seats because they are so consistent in cut and
perfectly measured. I don’t even have to clean the layout wax off to
look at them as I set them, I’m so confident in their consistency in
grading. That can save me a couple of hours on a complex pave’ job,
and doesn’t leave me with a bunch of diamonds I can’t use because
they aren’t the right size or don’t match. So I don’t have to order
more than I really need. Plus it looks so much better when finished.
It’s actually cheaper in the long run.

It’s a trite, over-used cliche’, but you get what you pay for.
Consequently, so do your customers. You’re not getting ripped off,
you’re giving your clients the best quality available. That’s a rare
thing in this Internet driven, price-before-everything-else world we
live in, and contrary to what so many people appear to believe, it’s
something people will pay for.

Don’t try to compete with the cheapest in your market. Unless you
don’t care about ripping people off, you’ll lose. My experience in
life has proven to me that it’s the lowest priced commodity that’s
usually the rip-off, not the highest.

Be thankful you have found a supplier that’s as consistently
committed to excellence as you are. They’re as rare as hen’s teeth

Dave Phelps


always know u r supplyers. lol :stuck_out_tongue:

Masked I realize I am a bit late but didn’t see your email.

You are POSITIVELY getting ripped off- period no question about it.
I lived in India for years and years (N. India, Bihar state) and
dealt directly with the folks in the lapidary business as well as
imported tonnes of bead strands to New Orleans for Mardi Gras(glass
beads being highly sought after and more expensive than the horrid
plastic metalized stuff most commonly thrown). I dealt with cutters,
re-cutters, dyers (most garnet that appears congruous is dyed
unfortunately!) and custom manufacturing concerns. NO ONE charges per
bead unless it is a* super large* run of a high grade semi-precious
material! 1.75 per bead?REALLY? Whomever this is knows you will pay
it- I guarantee 99.9 percent of dealers charge per x inch strand
"temporarily strung"(it represents less import taxes compared to
strung/wearable as-is strands.

If the beads were done by hand that may be worth 25 cents USD each
for say, 25,000 pieces or more but you bead rough is fed into a
hopper and made into spheres, then another to drill, and another to
polish and occasionally they use a whitish kaolin clay in the
drilling process so they are also mechanically cleaned- Machinery
most common i capable of perhaps 500,000 pieces an hour with one
person running at least one machine (sometimes 2)at a time. It isn’t
rocket science and is an ancient profession that improves with
technological advances. Faceted beads are not done by hand either
(the sole exception being diamond material that is “knapped” into
squares or octagons then sometimes drilled if they are to be strung).
They are fed into a machine that has a tube (or series of them)
instead of a hopper/bin so they are aligned and separate rough or
blanks that don’t weigh or are irregular compared to the parameters
set on the machine’s computer, then cut with water or lasers most
commonly today and depending on the hardness of the material being
cut, then drilled according to the specified orientation and finally
polished packed etc.

Still NOWHERE near 1.75 per bead!That would be the equivalent of
approximately $112 Rupees per bead !!! To put it in perspective :the
Indian minimum wage per MONTH is $15,000 rupees and the hourly
minimum is between 120 rupees per DAY in N. India to almost 1000 per
day in S. India(Kerala for instance) - So each bead you pay 1.75 USD
for pays a worker a days wage
! PURE PROFIT for your vendor - You are
essentially paying his salaries for the entire factory! *Yes, most
emphatically you are getting ripped off. * Garnet and amethyst are
probably the two mot commonly produced bead strands and in any number
of grades and cuts-Unles you are ordering really different sizes or
number of facets there is nothing that sounds unique about what you
are ordering. I wish you had stated the size of your order(s) and
frequency so I could figure out what you should be paying, for how
much product and then I could recommend how much to increase/decrease
a single order by to maximize your profit not sacrificing any quality
you believe you are getting. I would love to see a photo of the beads
you receive and how they arrive (unstrung? temporarily strung?Are
they separated by those pesky little plastic cocktail straw sized cut
into bits pieces to separate the beads so they don’t get marred in
transportation!!! I would love to know more- Then I would send a
proposal to the factory owner (not the supervisor) because OFTEN the
supervisor runs the floor and day-to-day operations so the owner
NEVER SEES the kind of profit you are contributing to the
operation… I’m betting the owner sees 7.5 cents US per bead -NOT
75 cents- and the $1.75 is probably a situation in which the
supervisor provides his own rough or blanked material and it is then
cut on the factory’s equipment and the participants split the money
accordingly The owner NEVER seeing that invoice(I would be really
interested to see the invoice to check what exactly is on each page,
betting the 1.75 per bead invoice is not on the same page at all!).
You should contact some different manufacturers in different
countries to work out some better deal depending on the size of the
runs and frequency of your orders. I will be more than happy to
assist you if necessary. Feel free to contact me personally off list-
I really hate foreign or domestic traders that are unscrupulous and
particularly this blatant about it- they KNOW YOU KNOW zero about
Indian economics and are capitalizing on it! I know you can sign a
far better contract with truly reasonable and competitive rates.

Best regards. rer

1 Like

Hi Dave
Thanks for your compliments and loyalty
We appreciate your business very much
Let us know if there is anything we can do for you

All the best,
David Grunberger

Everyone has some good points. If you are making a profit that is good. I find that alot of times we think that saving $.50 cents is so important when selling something for $100s?? I guess that is human nature. Because someone is in India doesn’t mean things have to be “cheap”. The world is changing.
But having said that: I think that indeed you are being overcharged. I have went to China and India both to purchase. $1.75 for a faceted gemstone bead seems high to me. My business is “blanks” made of metal so I am not an expert in this but have been heavily involved in using “beads” for many years. I think I would take a trip there, make it pleasure combined with business. This way you have a better feel for the deal especially if you spend alot of money. Sincerely, Laura