Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Do customers prefer hand fabricated jewelry?


#1

Hey Guys,

Just writing for a school essay and wondered if anyone had any
experiences of a customer actually caring about how a piece of
jewellery is made. Any interesting feedback would be appreciated :slight_smile:

Thank you!
Lucy


#2
Just writing for a school essay and wondered if anyone had any
experiences of a customer actually caring about how a piece of
jewellery is made. Any interesting feedback would be appreciated
:) 

Heavens to Betsy, of course some customers care.

Elaine
CreativeTextureTools.com


#3

A small proportion of customers care how things are made the rest
like things that look shiny and expensive :wink: CIA


#4

Not as much as they used to.


#5

Sadly no. Most of the public these days is accustomed to clicking a
key and having things miraculously appear a day later at their door.
They have no concept of actual manufacturing processes. They have no
idea of what we do whether fabricated, cast, or CAD CAM.

Since Tim and I have carved out a niche in the high end we do have
clients that are a bit more educated and curious about what we do.
Educated and curious folks do tend to make more money. We know just
how lucky we are and do appreciate and educate our clientele as we
work with them.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#6

Lucy, I have not had the technique employed to make a piece of
jewelry be an issue with client unless they are asking something of a
technique or material that it can’t do. That is a great question and
one which has shaped my way of thinking. I get all caught up in how a
piece is made and think it is so wonderful but the person who buys it
isn’t so interested, I think they see a design they like and don’t
really care how it’s made. I do pioneer technique, that is very
important to me as a craftsman/artist and I assume at some point
after I’m dead someone will notice and wonder how I made a certain
piece and put it in a museum but that may just be hubris on my part.

Sam Patania, Tucson


#7

Absolutely they do care. As soon as I am able to tell them what went
into it they take it more seriously. I tell them how I make and
solder every ring in a chain, how I make the pendant or earrings.
You get the picture.

There is some confusion though, because some customers consider bead
stringing to be hand made. Though there is some very creative
bead-stringing out there I consider it to be assembling rather than
really making. Having said that, some customers are just into buying
cheap.

Good luck with your paper.

Dick Stromberg


#8
wondered if anyone had any experiences of a customer actually
caring about how a piece of jewellery is made. 

The work I do, no, not really. About once a year or so the subject
might come up, or if I makea point of saying something is fabricated
they might say, “Kewl!” Otherwise, no.


#9
I get all caught up in how a piece is made and think it is so
wonderful but the person who buys it isn't so interested, I think
they see a design they like and don't really care how it's made. 

The “cult” of the handmade was a much bigger deal fifty or a hundred
years ago, as a reaction against the ugly side of the Industrial
Revolution. But in the marketplace of material things, the product is
tangible and the intangible value includes such things as
emotional/sentimental appeal, reputation of the maker, perceived
status that the object implies.

“Handmade” is, in the mind of the customer, less real than it is to
the people who actually do the making. Unless you make a retail
presentation of how it is made, chances are that today’s customer is
not especially interested.

I do pioneer technique, that is very important to me as a
craftsman/artist and I assume at some point after I'm dead someone
will notice and wonder how I made a certain piece and put it in a
museum but that may just be hubris on my part. 

I used to do a lot of technically challenging mokume and married
metals.

Lots of interest from other metalsmiths at shows and I tended to
have customers that were impressed by the difficulty of the
technique. One time I sold one of my best pieces at a show. It was an
impossibly difficult married metal bowl. After the deal was done and
the bowl paid for, the customer started asking how it was made and
revealed by his questions that he hadn’t a clue. After the customer
left, a spectator, maybe another craftsman, I don’t remember, who was
lurking nearby and witnessed the sale and conversation told me how
horrified he was that this guy would buy such an impressive piece
with such ignorance and indifference to the struggle that went into
making it. Reflecting on that, I prefer to think that making the sale
to someone who didn’t especially care about the techniques validated
the effort that went into it. He was buying the result, not the
process. I think that way to often, those of us who are into the
process, in our vanity, expect the audience to be as impressed with
us as we are with ourselves.

Most of us on Orchid are very into technique and craftsmanship. I
certainly am. Nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to
marketing it is a mistake to try to appeal to interests and desires
that you imagine your customers have, but they don’t really care that
much about. Some customers are curious. Some are genuinely
interested. You can make your craftsmanship part of your marketing
image. But at the end of the day you had better be making something
that was worth the effort of making by hand.

Steve Walker


#10
"Handmade" is, in the mind of the customer, less real than it is
to the people who actually do the making. Unless you make a retail
presentation of how it is made, chances are that today's customer
is not especially interested. 

When anything beyond bare subsistence items are sold to a customer
they are buying a story. They want that item because the story
appeals to them. One can market to customers on price or value or
celebrity appeal or hand craftsmanship or literally almost anything.
If you don’t tell your story then you are relying on the other story
tellers to sell your customer. They may still buy your work but you
are not controlling the story. So if hand craftsmanship is what is
special about your work then you need to sell that story.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#11

Yes, we Orchidians are craftsmanship oriented. The buying public (at
least the younger affluent folk here) are interested in “bling.” They
want cheap (inexpensive) flashy stuff. They don’t care where or how
it is made. Yes, there is still a very high end market (small number
of people, but very rich), but the young folk want flashy quick
stuff. Remember, they are the instant gratification generation (all
problems are solved in 1/2 hour on television, and no one in a
medical emergency dies). If I compute my actual wages from making my
jewelry, I would make more money asking “Would you like fries with
that?”

John


#12

Hi

I hand make jewellery and the customers like the story of how it is
made.

However I also sell machine made wedding rings and the customers
like the high tech story.

When it comes to dichroic glass, story is like something from Star
trek / Star wars / HG Wells etc, vacuum chamber electron beams etc.
They like that too.

Jewellery is an emotional purchase and some people like a good
story.

Others however just want cheap bling, and I sell that too.

The point you should make is that customers who CARE OR ARE EDUCATED
PREFER ONE OFF PIECES EITHER HAND MADE OR HIGH TECH.

Richard


#13

My experience is that only the “educated” customer really cares.

It is our job to teach our customer the difference between "Craft"
and “Crap”. Then only the ones willing to pay for the well crafted
handmade jewelry will buy it. The newly “educated” may appreciate
the object more butstill not be willing to pay for it. “Care
about"and"buy” are not the same issue.

Hopefully the desire to possess the object will be increased with
the education we provide the customer about the object. But there
will always bea section of the population that just cares aboutthe
bling-to-buck factor.

Best of luck with the paper. Hope you get an A.


#14
So if hand craftsmanship is what is special about your work then
you need to sell that story. 

I absolutely agree. The story can make all the difference. But I
think that “handmade” was a lot easier sell thirty years ago. And we
have all seen craftsmen who are so concerned with keeping it handmade
that they have sacrificed much of their potential by sticking with
processes and habits that are not very smart. Over the years the
perception of the artistic individual has shifted so that it is less
about “handmade”. Being creative, clever and in control of whatever
technology you use to make your work have always been the attributes
of a master craftsman. Nostalgia for old-fashioned methods still
exist, but are not nearly as powerful in the marketplace as they once
were.

Steve Walker


#15
If I compute my actual wages from making my jewelry, I would make
more money asking "Would you like fries with that?" 

Goodness but I think you may be speaking the truth! Inasmuch as I can
"squeak by" financially, I just quit making things for sale. I do the
occasional repair job (only if it’s something I really want to do)
and matter of fact, have spent my freed up time (which is more
abundant now) stitching up pillow cases for the kids w/cancer (my
charity project for the moment) and am taking a class in Nantucket
Basket Weaving for fun. Amazing how much I’m enjoying life at this
point (on a somewhat reduced budget). But then when you get old (will
be 82 in August) you do weird things, don’t you?

Kay


#16

Stories do romance the jewelry. BUT and I don’t mean by rear end. A
story doesn’t sell if you have the wrong market group. I spend my
summers on stage giving demos of Old Renaissance metalsmithing
techniques, while hand making solid copper Christmas tree ornaments
form 6 gauge solid copper round wire. I can tell stories until I’m
blue in the face to the locals of So. Utah. They just walk off saying
their grandmother use to do that with tin cans. I shake my head and
know that is not what their Grandmother’s made. It is the culture of
the area to make all their own stuff as much as possible.

I usually have a trick when an arrogant man comes up and says he
could do it as fast and well as I do it. i pull out a second pair of
round nose pliers, and give an UNannealed piece of metal and say,
“Time me” In seconds I have the strip twisted perfectly and go on to
produce a dozen or more while the guy struggles. Of course I have set
the guy up, but even giving them annealed strips they can’t do it.
They will walk off muttering I should use a jig, or I have special
pliers.

Stories and demos only go so far. Know your mind set of the cultural
place you are.

Aggie Who’s cat is meowing it is bed time!


#17

Thanks for the feed back Elaine - but can you give me a specific
example of one of your customers asking for a hand fabricated piece
over a cast / cad piece? And I mean without any bias from the
creator either way.

I used to think that they really cared myself, but am coming to the
conclusion that jewellers are the ones that kick up a fuss over
this, and rarely customers. But I am looking for specific examples
to include in my essay.

Lucy


#18

Wow thanks for the great feedback.

It does seem that educating customers is the key, and yes marketing
and telling the story etc. But without any influence, two rings very
similar looking, each seemingly good quality, one UKP 500 one UKP
700… which would the customer buy? go one further and even
label them “made with the help of a computer"and"made totally by
hand”… would that make any difference?

On the subject of telling a story… explaining the casting
process, or modern CAD methods may get other customers just as
excited as explaining complete hand fabrication, I guess its all in
the way you tell the story.

Thank you again, this essay has been a huge insight!
Lucy


#19
And we have all seen craftsmen who are so concerned with keeping
it handmade that they have sacrificed much of their potential by
sticking with processes and habits that are not very smart 

For me… Repair work pays the rent these days. In this case
repair work is defined as the trade defines it - sizing, setting,
retipping, polishing customer rings, rhodium and now and then
actually fixing something that’s broken. It’s very lucrative. The
other side of my work is specialorder, which is what I actually like
to do. CNC has taken a big chunk of that business in recent years,
for better or worse. What specialorder means is that someone comes
to me and says, “I need this made” and I never know what it’s going
to be. I have a business to run and I’m afraid my idealism is either
long gone or was never even there, I forget now. As our dear,
departed NeiltheJeweler used to say, “I’m a whore, I’ll do anything
for a buck.” What I do is whatever us necessary to get the job done
and also make money doing it. I’m not a hobbyist and I never really
have been - this is my liivelyhood. I fabricate the fabrication
pieces and cast the cast pieces, farm work out to computer modelers
or laser guys - I

have no issues whatsoever with what or how or when or if, I do
what’s necessary. I think much of the mystique of all of this comes
from University programs that revere “Handmade” above all else. I
also think that’s largely because casting programs are expensive and
they don’t understand it to begin with…


#20

I do custom work for three stores. In my experience, the customers
couldn’t care less how it is made - they trust me to make that
decision based on thenature of the product. All they care about is
that it is a one-of-a kind piece; made specifically for them.

Cameron