Contract for custom work

If someone out there has a Contract/Agreement for fabricating a
piece of custom jewelery that they would be willing to share, I would
be most appreciative. I am tired of excuses and getting toasted.

Thanks in advance, Richard

You might want to check this a little further, but I believe an
accurate rendering signed by both parties is a legal contract.
However you might have better luck with some portion of the sales
price being collected up front as a nonrefundable deposit. This will
be charged for material and labor already expended. On the other
hand, is the value of the piece, and incurred cost worth a drippy
faucet in your community?

I am tired of excuses and getting toasted 

If you get your materials costs up front, you won’t need a contract.
Add up the cost of materials, add something for your time, and
require that amount from your client as a non-refundable deposit.
Enforcing a contract may cost more than the piece, so getting my
costs up front as a deposit has never failed me. If the original
client backs out, even though it’s a custom piece, you may eventually
sell it at a discount to a new prospective buyer since the materials
and most, if not all, of the labor has been paid. It’s amazing how
people will suddenly fall in love with somebody else’s custom piece
when they are told it has been marked down 50 percent!

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL

We address this problem in a number of ways. First of all we have a
no refunds policy clearly posted on the order form and on the walls.
Secondly we take a 50% deposit on any work we do up front. This is
nonrefundable, although we do allow them to use it towards something
else in the store if we can’t make them happy with the custom work.
In other words if they give me $1000 towards a $2000 order but they
don’t like any of my models/custom work, then they can apply the
$1000 to something out of the cases, repairs, appraisals, whatever.
This at least keeps all of the money in house. We verbally inform
every customer of this policy as well as having it written up on the
backs of our invoices (which they have to sign). Quite frankly, there
is no lawyer proof document out there. Everything can be challenged
if someone chooses to pursue you legally, but it’s rare that
anything ends up at that point. It sounds to me like you haven’t been
clear with people to begin with and you haven’t been taking big
enough deposits.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

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