First real production run

I consider myself to be an artisan jeweler. I fabricate everthing in
high-karat gold and I’d say I have one foot in the fine jewelry
camp, the other in the fashion jewelry camp.

I recently received a rather large order from a high-end specialty
retailer. This will require a production run and I’ve have always
handmade everything from start to finish. I want this order but I’m a
one person shop and I’m not sure where to begin. Several of the
designs can easily be cast or die stamped to save time, but up until
now there was no need for that.

If anyone has ever been in a similar situation, I’d love to hear how
you did it. If any of you are doing small production runs (20-100 of
a design), can you tell me what your process is like? How do you
determine your turnaround times on such an order? How you run your
shop? Do you have assistant(s)?

I’d love to hear how everyone else does it and manages to make it


I do production work for a designer as well as for myself where I
have to make I 15 or more of the same piece sometimes. What I would
suggest is cast as many as the small pieces as you can and just put
everything together like a production line (clean all the castings,
then do the next step on all the same piece and so on). It gets a
little tedious when you spend all day working on the same piece over
and over again but it gets everything done in the shortest ammount
of time possible. A lot of places will bring a project from start to
finish for you. You could contract out some of the work to a place
that will put things together for you after they cast the pieces.
That can save you time but may cost a little more and sometimes they
miss some of the minute details that you have to fix once you get it
back. I can suggest a few places that do all the work for you if you
need something like that.

I hope that helps.

Hello Wise Orchid Members,

I just received my first large order from a high-end specialty
retailer. They’ve ordered deep quantities of several different
designs. I’m not new to the business but I am new to production runs.
I?'m a solo operation and I?'m not quite sure where to begin as I’ve
always handmade everything from start to finish. Several of the
components can probably be cast or die stamped to save time, but my
head is spinning with all the details.

If anyone has ever been in a similar situation, I?'d love to hear
how you did it and what potential pitfalls I may face. If any of you
are doing small production runs (20-100 of a design), can you tell me
what your process is like? How do you determine your turnaround times
on such an order? Do you have assistant(s)? How you build accurate
production calendars and keep your assistants interested in doing
repetetive tasks?

Of course I realize that many folks don’t like to divulge the
details of their business, but if anyone is willing to share, I?'d
love to hear how you do it and manage to make it profitable!


How your product is to be made - casting, die-struck, whatever,
really can’t be addressed without knowing what the items are.
Tool-and-die work is expensive, though. I would also suggest that you
qualify your buyers before you tool up much, also. Department stores
are notorious for dreams and 90 - 120 day payment. Meaning that they
will see a prototype, and then change their minds on the line, or
decide that it won’t sell afterall. Get it in writing. We have a
network of people, and we farm out work as needed, back and forth. If
you need to take on help, though, don’t go cheap. Make sure they can
do the work from the beginning. The process is simple in essence,
though: Dissect your pieces into components, and figure how each is
to be done - cast, stamp, whatever. It’s boring, but the only way you
will succeed is by production methods - make all 100 parts, make all
50 other parts, assemble all 100 pieces, etc. Do a time-and-motion
study on each piece to get a figure on work time for your cost basis.
The exception to this is polishing- you might have a polisher
working, or do some here and there, because marathon polishing
sessions are murder, plus you have product waiting to be shipped,
laying around. You’ll get plenty of advise, here - mostly it’s just
lots of work, though. It’s still making jewelry.

Thank you for asking that quesiton Sarah. If anyone answers, please
do it online so some of the rest of us can benefit from the answers,

Thank you


I have limited knowledge in this area. I did production runs of
thirty to fifty pieces at a time when I first started my jewelry
line. Basically I looked at the parts of the design that were too
time consuming to be feasible for one person to do (especially with my
limited knowledge and work space) like casting, polishing, etc. Then
I weighed the cost of having these things done for me against the
cost (financial and timewise) of doing it myself. I had components of
my original design cast with molds made, picked up my order, dropped
it off at a polisher, and then took the finished components home
about a week later. From there it was assembly line work at home. This
was tedious as hell! Be careful, unless you have a bonifide way of
selling all those pieces, don’t put it into production. I saw that
another poster told you to have the order in writing, and I have to
agree. Although I never had a large order, I went ahead and made more
pieces than I could sell, which ultimately gave me a lot of inventory
that I am still trying to move two years later! Live and learn.
Actually, it’s more like, screw up and learn. But I haven’t made the
same mistake twice. Now I make about three pieces of a design and
wait until they sell to make more. Granted, I am a hobby designer who
only sells locally, but I had big dreams at one time. Best of luck to
you! Don’t fear mistakes, they are the best teachers.

Augest Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs