It never occurred to me that pre-made settings would be in a show.
I am thinking by pre-made, you mean someone opens a catalog and
orders the item. Is this really what you mean? I'm sorry, but this
kinda throws me for a big loop. Is this acceptable to other
artists/jewelers? Is it common?
No, this is not acceptable at fine craft shows. At unjuried shows, I
suppose anything goes. They are more like a flea market; you pay for
a spot and sell whatever you can sell. It may be common there. The
disturbing thing is that these sellers often swear they made the
stuff, perhaps feeling justified because of the small amount of
setting work they do on it. I try hard to avoid shows that let this
type of work in to them.
I make original silver jewelry, and at one point I started stringing
some of it with beads, as you do. A professional craft photographer
working at an ACC show warned me to be very careful about sending in
jury slides that had my pendant on a bead-strung necklace, saying
that it might put me in a category in the jurors’ minds that I did
not want to be in, namely, with the bead stringers who do not make
any of their components. This is exactly what you are up against, I
I hang a lot of my work on 3 or 4-mm leather cords, and I am in the
process of switching to my own handmade sterling cord ends, instead
of purchased ones, for the same reason. I don’t know if I will be
able to keep up with the demand for all those small parts, so I
guess I will keep some of the commercial ones on hand as well.
Customers like the commercial cord ends just fine, except that they
are a little bit bulkier than necessary, so some of my pendants and
beads will not slide on and off of a necklace. That is the second
reason I like my own ends better. But the other, very important
reason that I want my own ends on the cords is to class up my work in
the eyes of those more knowledgeable about the jewelry business,
especially if they are jurors. That’s how it goes.
One other thing that I feel compelled to mention: I do use some bezel
cups sometimes instead of fabricating small bezels. They help keep
the cost down for some designs where I add a small round accent stone
to one of my castings. I feel okay about it, as long as I do a good
job with them. But the bezel cup is not the jewelry design, there’s a
lot more to the piece than that.
I think that if I were you, I would show only one piece that had the
bead necklace on it in my jury shots. Make other pieces that don’t
have bead-stringing on them, such as brooches, earrings, or one of
your pendants on a cord or chain, and feature those in the majority
of your slides. And be sure to have some of those pieces at the
show! It is necessary to play the game, and play it as well as you
can. That is, if you want to make a living at this.