Half on commencement, half on completion. The deposit is non-
refundable unless you default, and the customer understands that up
front and you put it in writing. That way all materials are paid
for, and the customer is committed monetarily, which pretty much
forces the emotional commitment, if it isn’t completely there to
begin with. Oh…I also charge more for custom work, the amount
depending on the customer and the design, as the work often requires
multiple sketches, conversations and adjustments.
I have one customer, that after my first experience with her, (8
discussions and sketches and she backed out), who defined my policy.
When she came back around, I charged her double for what would have
been a $500 ring, I also did a lot less talking this time around,
and one spur of the moment drawing, and refused to meet with her
after that, telling her that we could discuss it more when she was
certain of what she wanted. To my surprise she committed. When she
ended up calling me 22 times, (no, I am not kidding), about this very
simple ring, I could answer her with a smile and know I was getting
paid for the time and energy those calls took. She also refused to
believe that the three small bands used in the ring were soldered and
not cast when she saw them, so she insisted they be cut apart and
resoldered to look more “hand made”. I charged her an extra $100,
sawed the bits apart and that time around, did a less than perfect
job, so she would be sure that the ring was, “hand made”…sheesh!
She was one of those ladies frequently seen in my area of the
country. A former “model”, who had married too well for her own
good. Ie: she had no idea of the value of a dollar or the value of
work. Recently divorced, she has become much more circumspect,
eliminating my need to overcharge her, she’s actually pretty nice
these days, although she can no longer afford expensive jewelry as
she is the one footing the bill. In any case, overcharging is not my
norm, but getting paid for the extra work and time that is often
involved with commissions, is necessary.
I do a lot of commission work, and I only backed out once, about ten
years ago. A doctor who started calling me literally 3 to 5 times a
day wanting modification after modification to a bracelet that he
had given me to work on, and wanting the changes at no cost to him.
During one conversation, I asked him if he was at home, and told him
I would call him back. Instead, I drove to his house and gave the as
yet untouched bracelet and his deposit back to him. I told him that
what ever it was that was wrong in his life, this bracelet was not
going to fix it. I also told him, that if he needed work in the
future to please contact another jeweler. He was pretty mad, but
then I was pretty sick of him…lol. It was a big relief to get rid
of him and his bracelet. Sometimes, the work is just not worth it.
Lisa, (Living in the land of speeding, ranting, drunken celebrities,
and other, very nice celebrities who like custom jewelry. Then we
have those pesky earthquakes and wildfires. hey…its always
something!) Topanga, CA USA