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Display in glass cases, yes or no?

Hi all,

I’m doing my first in-person craft show in quite a while and will be
selling mostly my bronze work.

Do you guys recommend using glass cases?

If yes, which ones are the most affordable/lightest to carry/look


Hi Elaine,

After a number of different types of display cases, we settled on
Abstracta. We put laminated glass on the tops, glass on the fronts
and plexi on the sides. The cases are graduated sizes, pop-riveted
together, and telescope into each other for packing in our van.

I don’t hang any of my neckpieces. They are displayed flat, on
brushed plexi pads or thick white felt pads. Rings are displayed in
polymer stands I made that look like bone. Earrings are displayed on
slanted stands I made from copper screening given a patina. Covering
the floor of each case (under the pads), I’ve used white
interfacing, interesting, heavy papers, etc. Some thoughts on other
surfaces. cork shelf liner, interesting (unpatterned) heavy papers,
non-stick shelf liner (black or white). Whatever you choose, use it
for every part of your display, for consistency, and do choose
materials that don’t distract from the jewelry.

Best advice I can give. walk the juried shows and take a look at
what other jewelers have figured out. Some of the most interesting
displays I’ve seen recently are very spare and mildly rough
(recycled, unfinished woods, dark jewelry supports). If what you’re
selling is bronze, you probably don’t need the kind of secure cases
that precious metals require. This really allows you to be really
creative designing your display.

Really spend on the lighting. go with lots and lots of LED track
lights. If you don’t have a way to suspend the tracks, build
something that will allow you to do so (PVC pipe works well for this
purpose as there are lots of different fittings available, and no
soldering required). Don’t use elbow, clamp lights. they look so
tacky. I know, PVC sounds tacky, but it can be disguised, carved,
dyed, painted, wrapped, etc. (after all, it’s just faux bone-ish).

Good luck,
Linda Kaye-Moses

Elaine - I have been to many craft shows in the last 50 years - both
high end and bargain basement type and everything in between. And I
have watched people as they look at tables and displays because I
sell sometimes too. For a lot of people, there seems to be a message
of “these are my very very expensive creations and I am protecting
them as much as I can” and many pass over them quickly. They may or
may not be the most expensive and I don’t know why you are
considering glass. I don’t feel that the behind glass creations
induce much customer/artisan communication which is part of the
ambiance I want to create. Sure, I would like to sell, but I am also
trying to create a general appreciation for things made by hands that
seems to have been dropped in the pursuit of the preoccupation of
the industrial revolution’s generation and those following. I like to
engage the viewer in the story of creating the pieces. We will all
sell more as the appreciation builds back up. Hope that helps.

Barbara on a blue sky, red maple leaf day on the island

When I used to do craft shows 40 years ago I bought picture frames
and took out the backings added hinges and made cases out of them.
cheap and looked nice. easy to transport and set up.

Panama Bay Jewelers

Hi, Elaine,

I use the sheet-and-clip type, with 12x18 fronts and 12x12 sides. I
think this is the most versatile system if you can’t/don’t want to
spend a lot to get set up.

Glass cases raise the perceived value of your work, and help prevent

Did you know Cathy Cousins? She never used them her whole career,
and did as many as 35 shows a year.

They’re heavy and a PITA, but my feeling is that only real low-end
work sells without them.


Noel is right. It’s all about perceived value. It’s useful to use a
little showmanship.

Regardless of the price tag of your work or how it’s displayed, when
ever you show a piece to a customer first place it on a very nice
velvet or leather counter pad. Always have a nice clean Selvyt cloth
on hand and gently wipe the piece down both before and after you show
it. Treat it as though it is the most precious object in the world
with your hands and folks will buy into your body language. So much
of selling and communication is non verbal. Don’t stand with your
arms crossed over your chest. It’s intimidating. Practice you most
warm and open smile and keep your hands in a relaxed posture. Look
the customer in the eye when they speak. And I’m going to sound like
my mother here… stand up straight and don’t slouch. Sorry about
that, but it needs to be said.

Selling is so much like going on a first blind date with someone. Oh
and never ever apologize for your prices. If this were easy everyone
would do it.

Have fun and make and sell lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

I agree with this post, but I do use glass cases. I use them as
risers and leave the front open. This gives the option to place
displays on top of them and implies value to the pieces inside. I
used to use a piece of glass in front and no one asked to see the
pieces behind the glass. Now they are easy to access, but obviously
the best pieces and sell as easily as the less expensive pieces.
Interestingly, the only 2 pieces I have had stolen have been
inexpensive and I suspect were lifted by a young person not looking
for value but going for the boho look of the stolen pieces.

Barbara in Texas sweating in October

Yes. I agree to this. I have passed so many counters quickly because
I assumed they were expensive. Their display was intimidating.


I do want to comment on the enclosed or not enclosed display cases
debate. It is obvious that an enclosed glass case will contain
objects (jewelry or other) that are more expensive than those
objects that are displayed without the security of glass cases.
That’s just common sense. the loss of a piece of jewelry to theft, a
piece that may be worth $25.00 to $125.00, is a lot easier than
losing a piece that is worth $500-$10,000, as the replacement value
is lower. That doesn’t mean it FEELS OK. It never feels good to have
been robbed. Trust me when I say that it’s very simple for a
committed shoplifter/thief to remove a piece or pieces of jewelry
from an open case. That’s their job description. steal what you can.
Enclosed displays help reduce the possibility of theft at shows.
That’s a given.

So, protecting an expensive piece of jewelry in a secure display
case is at the least an exercise in caution. And it doesn’t hurt to
display jewelry in this way, as the perceived value increases. If
one displays jewelry with respect, respect for the designs, respect
for the work that has been put into it, respect for the craft, the
metals, the stones, that respect becomes almost tangible to a
prospective collector. That’s not a small thing. It is my opinion
that glass display cases speak volumes of respect for the objects
enclosed in them.

Collectors buy jewelry based on a number of factors (and I may miss
some here): 1. The preciousness of the materials; 2. The design; 3.
The colours of the stones (if there are stones in a particular
piece); 4. Quality of the construction; 5. The reputation of the
maker; 6. Loyalty to the maker; 7. The perceived value.
collectibility, gestalt of all of the above. What’d I miss? Some of
the above factors are controllable, numbers 1-4, for example. The
rest are controllable only to a lesser degree, but the more we
attend to those remaining factors, the more we communicate to the
potential collector how much we, as jewelers, value our work. And,
if we value/respect our work, our collectors will notice and apply
that to their purchases.

Linda Kaye-Moses

Glass cases have always been a part of my exhibit for twenty years.
My first show was an outdoor show and I had designed plexiglass
cases. My next show was an American Craft Council show where I saw
both kinds of displays with and without glass cases. I usually work
by myself in the booth and like the extra layer of protection the
cases give. I do have all my prices showing so customers. I now use
glass because the plexi will scratch easily in transit.