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Gave a quote for a ring


#1

Hi Guys,

Just quoted $800, $580, $280, and $270, for 18K, 9K, Sterling, and
90/10 bronze respectively.

The 18K weighs in at 4.66 grams. It’s a wedder, but is finely, and
highly detailed.

I was told this is a very reasonable price.

My question is. am I quoting too low?

Regards Charles A.


#2

not knowing how much work you have into it, your overhead, your
labour charge (provided you have a minimum even its a less than one
hour job) stone setting if anything, cleaning and polishing, then
packaging sounds like you are just getting your metals costs out of
it- 18 K at 4 and 2/3 gram will cost around 1290 just to replace the
gold(yellow gold casting grain) at today’s spot (its a rounded
figure) so it sounds like all the quotes are equally low- I wouldn’t
use 9-12 kt for a wedding ring though - that’s more a repair grade
metal- don’t offer clients that option perhaps 14 kt as the lowest
fineness you care to work in. The low karat golds are stronger thana
others so great for repair or making components that are hidden, like
clasp mechanisms for instance, but for an attractive piece that
retains a good polish and the alloy in it doesn’t loose colour as 9kt
will, it’s not a good option unless the person insists that their
budget is lower than any other way you can go and still make money
and protect your reputation (or build it !) - it’s far better to
explain why the expense is valid in an object with potential
sentimentality attached- the higher karat gold will be softer but
look far richer than a bunch of copper and zinc with a bit of gold in
it as 9kt is, and that paying for white gold is not a good choice
either as the customer is then paying for almost 1/2 the weight in
nickel to make a 14kt piece. Palladium is a platinum group metal that
is a nice alternative in a white metal and has a higher perceived
value and is as easy to work as white gold. Sterling can discolour
too readily - but ultimately its the customer’s budget and your
competition that you have to take into account. Have you priced rings
at retailers in your area? Are you the only goldsmith in your area?
these things are relevant in figuring out how much is fair. Do you
offer a guarantee (or even free cleaning and polishing for the life
of the piece?) or insurance on the jewelry you sell, do you pay for
insurance on your studio ? - there are so many things to consider in
making a quote that is fair to you and accommodating to the customer
and one that takes all the factors into account -like your turn
around time which probably beats any retailer’s that sends the work
out- particularly during this season- those are points to make if
necessary to give the customer a sense of the value and attention
their special item will get with you as opposed to going to the local
X mart and buying a 10-14 karat band made in China. One thing i have
found to be a great seller for people on a really tight budget is to
sell them a design your own rings plan: They come into the studio and
work with you for a couple of hours each carving their design in
either cuttlebone or using a block of butter-like silicone, their
ring is then sized and cast in a metal or alloy of their choosing or
they are given a quick primer in metal clay and make gold bands which
are then cleaned up to the degree necessary, fired off and finished
to their specs for each other- that has actually been a profitable
option in which they feel “connected” to the objects to be exchanged.
the price of the material is far higher than the alloy or fine gold
grain, but when certain clients are offered the option of being
involved in making their rings for their partners the cost seems to
become immaterial, and the profit margin is workable given that
-whatever option you personally have the skills to offer, they pay
for the studio time with a "project oriented " approach and specific
time frame(for studio guidance, their presence in your space while
working on their project and a completion time frame), and you then
add the finishing or sizing (if a casting method is selected) if
necessary and charge for those services and any add-ons,(i. e.- if
they want a stone added to their design, or only to one of the rings,
if they want a particular finish other than a high polish, or perhaps
to use a “specialty metal” like mokume-gane which then limits their
creative input and requires more of your time and perhaps ordering in
the billet material if not a sheet of pre-fab stuff , etc.).Bottom
line is yes, the 800 seems a bit low for an 18 kt anything given the
cost of replacing the metal, and there are options that can help you
increase your profit margin and your business. rer


#3

I dont knowhow long you have been a goldsmith, but if its some time
you should know what your time is worth for making a one off wedder.

If for example your just a lone operator, working from a home
workshop, then your price will be a lot less than say a London West
End jeweller like Garards the Crown jewellers or Asprey or a top of
the range jeweller in 5th Ave NY.

It will also depend on quick you can make it.

If its a run of the mill product then more power to your elbow.


#4

A piece of advice given to me by a jeweler when I fires was starting
out wasto price pieces at 5 timed the cost of the gold used for
retail sales. Works most of the time if you are a fast worker. Some
pieces take longer then others but it all works out in the end. That
said I now after 40 plus years in the business charge a lot more for
mylabor and designs.


#5

A piece of advice given to me by a jeweler when I fires was starting
out wasto price pieces at 5 timed the cost of the gold used for
retail sales. Works most of the time if you are a fast worker. Some
pieces take longer then others but it all works out in the end. That
said I now after 40 plus years in the business charge a lot more for
mylabor and designs.


#6

Hi Rer,

Thank you for that, I’m new to selling precious metal.

I want to be fair to my customers and to the local jewellers.

In time I will get better :slight_smile:

Thank you again regards Charles A.


#7

Thanks Guys,

This is very enlightening, and very helpful.

Thanks regards Charles


#8

I would love to charge 5 times as much, but in frugal NH and New
England, I can’t get away with that. I can only double my materials,
add labor (at $60 an hour) to get wholesale cost and then double that
for retail. Unfortunately, I work mostly on consignment, because most
of the galleries I sell work in, are non-profit, or have very low
profit margins. If I lived somewhere else, I would try charging more,
but NH has made it difficult for me to try to hike my prices, so I do
what I can to survive. MA and NH consumers are very good at laying on
the guilt trip, and bargaining is a game to them. New Yorkers are the
bargaining champs. Well, darn it, that’s my paycheck you are
bargaining with! I was told by my first jewelry teacher to take cost
of materials, doublethat, add my labor, such as $10 an hour, equal
wholesale and then double that for retail. I’ve pretty much followed
that formula, almost 30 years later, but I adjust according to the
market. However, the high silver and gold prices has caused a lot of
trouble in the last few years, making it tricky to adjust my prices.
I’ve been forced to go to goldplate, goldfilled, silverplated and
will try silverfilled (shudders) soon. I so love working with
sterling and fine silver. Well, maybe I should reconsider moving out
of frigid New England and find someplace warmer for my rapidly aging
hands are not taking this cold well anymore.

Joy


#9

Joy- Texas is nice this time of year. Their economy is better than
most states. Lots of oil money. The women down there love to wear
their jewels. On the MJSA linkedin group there are a bunch of
opportunities in Texas listed just today by Diamond Staffing
Solutions. Lots of for profit galleries down there. Have fun and make
lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#10

You should certainly not move just to get paid a fair price for what
I suspect is better care in the work you provide than any competitor
in your area ! A reasonable labor charge these days is in the range
of $32 - 40.00 an hour. You should charge for materials, as any
retailer does by multiplying your (cost) x(2.5).in fact some
retailers go higher than that to x 3. Look at it this way, they are
paying for you to - what, pick up the work and then deliver it I’m
betting, and return it on a promise date you keep after having done
quality work by hand to satisfy their customers and maintain their
reputation. Where is your recognition dear? I think it’s time (after
30 years) for you to run things like a business. If the client
galleries etc. even try guilt tripping you, then they see that they
can simply get away with it. why? because they want * you* to do
their bidding, maintain their quality standards and keep them in
business. Unless you are on their board, I’m guessing you had zero to
do with their profitability projections or the structure of their
business (not-for-profit, etc.). I have NEVER heard of a non-profit
gallery for the record!! A gallery is there to make money. If it’s a
501 © 3, then you can deduct the work you do for them : First,
inflate your rate and costs, then after they pay the bill you give
them, the remainder of the actual total can be written off by you as
a donation of in kind services- the catch is they have to give you a
copy of their purported 501 © 3 that exhibits their tax exempt “non
profit” status. if they can’t just go to a drawer in a filing cabinet
and instantly photocopy it for you, then chances are you have been
mislead. . Which is my concern for you as a colleague and artisan,
and what sounds like a nice, but rather shy, non-confrontational
artist that would rather have some work at far less than the actual
value of what you do, than less work at what you are actually worth
not only in tangible terms but in their having a tried and true
resource they can call on at any time and rely on for quality,
repairs, etc. in a timely manner. . So what you do is go to a service
like vistaprint for example (i have no connection with them) and take
advantage of their “free” oversized postcards offer. Put whatever you
like on the face (their print work is very adequate and you control
what images you use of your own- be it a logo, photos of your work,
studio name, etc.) and on the other side something to the effect of :
Announcing ‘Spoon Lady’s’ 2013 Services- and then spell out what you
offer, be it “Specialising in Silver Repair, Restoration and
Conservation” (many firms won’t touch silver work for some reason),
general jewellery repairs, design and custom fabrication services,
classes, one-on-one lessons in basic silversmithing, pearl
restringing(If you do that), open studio time ( you charge a price
for an individual or x number of people to have access to your studio
equipment, instruction and consumables for x number of hours on
specific dates and after they have listened to a short presentation
on tool use and maintenance of your equipment that you will allow
access to) and anything else you offer. And in big bold type
something to the effect of " New Design and Fabrication Rates for
2013 ! Labour Only $32.00 an Hour " that way you can then offer 20%
or whatever you choose to galleries willing to sign an agreement with
you, or to good clients, or some follow up postcard each season with
a new collection announcement or sale on X, or " 20% off for the
Holidays- Get Your Heirlooms Ready for Giving “” or whatever
advertising best fits your purposes and pretty much does the talking
for you and cuts down on the haggling you seems to be experiencing.
It is ridiculous that anyone would even go there with an independent
artisan- so it sounds to me like you personally need to get some
local exposure,: Put together a Press Kit and send it out to radio,
news orgs. and any other non-web based media in your area and within
say, 40 miles or so from your studio. Have your local paper come to
your studio and interview you with a headline like " Local Metalsmith
Celebrating 30 Years in Business (just be certain they don’t
photograph or mention your address, or anything else that would leave
you open to robbery, etc., and that you make it clear you insist on
reading the article to proof it before it goes to print. It sounds
like you need to get a grasp on the realities of the jewelry business
and realise first, it is not location specific: things you put up
with are not because its part of the local culture!! it’s because you
let your clients get away with it. A good tactic when they want to
start “negotiating” is to nip it in the proverbial bud, by saying-
“the only time I can be flexible with my fee schedule is during
my___(pre-holiday) (summer) (x)__sale- I’ll send you a postcard
when the next one is coming up, but at this time my rates are all on
this chart”, and have one posted somewhere as well as some printed
out in a professional looking brochure or something you find works
best- from a flyer on your counter to a presentation folio like you
would send to prospective clients. nonetheless, have something large-
at least a 1/2 sheet of poster board - with your rates for services
listed in a large readable font and posted at eye height or above (6
" or above works well) somewhere in your office or shop or studio
(wherever the clients come in to haggle !!!). Maintain a good mailing
list as well: have a book for clients to sign in when they arrive on
your counter, etc. at least and keep a hard copy as well as a copy in
your mail merge program (if you have one) on your work PC or business
hard drive so when you do a mailing you simply have to print out the
labels, unless you enjoy calligraphy or prefer the look of hand
addressing postal pieces. As for compromising your materials- whate
going down in quality doesn’t seem right in my opinion. If you always
worked in sterling or fine silver, why reduce your work to silver
filled or plated materials- that just doesn’t make sense. Surely you
aren’t trying to accommodate the same people that are going to for
example the cinema and buying popcorn, 2 drinks and perhaps one other
candy item - they are spending near 40 bucks for that entertainment
and have no tangible item to show for the expenditure -I’m betting
your pieces are just a bit more than 40 dollars, with a price point
below one hundred on average - when they should probably be priced
for a range from $65.00-145.00 given the increased cost of silver and
other materials over the past 30 years ! You see, you are offering a
(I’m presuming) excellent standard of workmanship, unique jewelry and
good repair work and are trying to make a livelihood at it. You must
get a fair price for your work. It follows that the public has
notions in their minds of perceived value. New customers probably
don’t know what you used to use for materials, nor that you felt
compelled to go with lower cost materials to keep your sales at x
level- that is not a good way to run a business in my opinion-
decreasing the quality makes no sense. In fact you should, again in
my opinion, get rid of the filled materials and keep a plating pen
for repair work only or restoration and conservation. You need to
contact museums, boutiques, auction houses and perhaps retail
jewelry chains and offer them your repair, restoration and
conservation services - stressing that you specialize in sterling
silver and fine silver(in addition to other precious metals and
materials),If you offer stone replacement or matching services also
note that, and any other restoration work you may do that involves
real precious metal anything (I offer gilding services for instance
using 23 and 24kt gold leaf in a variety of colours to match original
pieces).I also deal with churches and other ecclesiastical painting
and decorating- so think broadly: who in your area has precious
metals for sale or on display, and how can you garner their business?
I felt compelled to write you as when i hear a person with 30 years
of experience has loweredd their standards and allows a customer to
haggle because of the artisans location- I think siomething isn’t
quite right with the picture and 9 times out of ten it’s a
self-confidence in business issue, where a generous and talented
person is getting railroaded!!! sound familiar? Good luck in
increasing your business. If I can help in any way feel free to
contact me off list regarding anything I have written in this post
that needs clarification or further detail. rer


#11

It’s up to every craftsperson/artist to value his or her work and
materials. The days of Walmart and the cheap retail jewelry stores
have instilled in customers quantity over quality. Getting to know
the person behind the piece of jewelry is important to me, the story
of the journey of both the person and the piece matter to me. And I
promote valuing and buying made by hands whenever and wherever I
have the opportunity. That’s part of the standard that the people who
went before us handed to us when we began. Wave that standard
whenever you can and inform people about your work and the work of
others. Promote other makers of beautiful things. We all benefit that
way. Barbara on another breezy day on the Island (so far a warmer
breeze)


#12
I would love to charge 5 times as much, but in frugal NH and New
England, I can't get away with that. 

I feel your pain, Joy! I love New Hampshire, especially up north.
Grew up there, had a Ski 93 student season pass, summer job at the
Mt. Washington Hotel, went to college in Antrim, all of that. Our
first jewelry store was in a tent at the base of Loon Mountain, right
under the gondola. We did winters in the old Mad River Canoe factory
on NH 49 in Campton (if you’ve ever been to Waterville Valley, you’ve
driven past the shop).

But that was in the early seventies, the same time as the gas
crisis. For two or three years, no one came up from Taxachusetts or
points south because they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to get
gas to get back home. Even the Canucks stayed home those few years
(that wasn’t necessarily bad if you worked for tips - sorry
Canadians, you have a reputation in the White Mountains for being
horrible tippers. Quebec plates on a car means a 2 dollar tip for a
forty dollar dinner).

None of the locals were buying anything either because the
flat-landers weren’t coming up and eating in restaurants, going on
tours or renting skis, boats or snowmobiles. Even after the economy
started turning around, it was tough sledding. The paper plant in
Lincoln went under. Tourists didn’t want to buy anything over $100,
and sometimes would even bring in things they had made at home, just
to show us the beautiful piece their jeweler made and to thank us for
the wonderful design we drew up for them (boy, if that one doesn’t
still chap my lily white - uh. hide). Locals would fork over big
bucks for a new pair of Rossi Strato’s, or a deer rifle, or sign up
for five years of payments on a new snow machine, but when it came
to jewelry, a pair of plain sterling wedding bands was about all they
would ever buy. Fine jewelry just doesn’t fit the New Hampshire
outdoor lifestyle. In 1980, the whole family packed up the shop and
everything we owned and headed south for a warmer climate and better
markets. Broke my heart, but we had to eat, and about all that was
left was yellow snow.

I’m sorry (but not surprised) to hear things haven’t changed much.
Except for four lanes going through Franconia Notch. All that
blasting just knocked the Old Man down, darn it (surprise, surprise).
Who the heck’s wonderful idea was that and why couldn’t they just
listen to the folks that lived there!!! What’s next? The Kankamagus
Super Freeway?

If you’re giving a thought to moving south Joy, the whole area in
the North Carolina / Virginia / Tennessee corner is wonderful. Looks
a lot like the White Mountains, but the lakes aren’t quite as nice
and clear. No loons or ice fishing either. But the Blue Ridge Parkway
will definitely remind you of the Kank. And there’s money there. Snow
and a bit of skiing as well. Being as you’re from NH, the icy slopes
will make you feel right at home! You won’t miss the black flies
either.

Come on down! The weather’s fine! Just don’t underestimate the need
for air conditioning. Been there done that, it wasn’t pretty. It’s
sort of a Southern thing for their summer version of “heat”.

Dave Phelps


#13

When people talk about doubling the cost of materials, do they mean
pure metals or wire/sheet? When I first started working (30+ years
ago), I figured out that wire and sheet cost twice as much to buy
ready-made as compared to when I made it myself (now probably a lot
more). So I figure the doubling pays for the labor for making the
wire/sheet. (I actually just included the time as labor cost.)
Nowadays, if you buy wire/sheet/tubing/domes/etc. in gold, the result
of doubling that cost is usually prohibitive, no? Surely there must
be a difference in figuring for unalloyed, alloyed, or ‘product
material’ (wire/sheet/etc.).

Janet in Jerusalem


#14
When people talk about doubling the cost of materials, do they
mean pure metals or wire/sheet? When I first started working (30+
years ago), I figured out that wire and sheet cost twice as much to
buy ready-made as compared to when I made it myself (now probably a
lot more). So I figure the doubling pays for the labor for making
the wire/sheet. (I actually just included the time as labor cost.)
Nowadays, if you buy wire/sheet/tubing/domes/etc. in gold, the
result of doubling that cost is usually prohibitive, no? Surely
there must be a difference in figuring for unalloyed, alloyed, or
'product material' (wire/sheet/etc.). 

Janet in Jerusalem

I’m sure it’s the same in Israel as well as the USA. But the cost to
buy sheet and wire over casting grain is a few dollars per ounce
more. Its not twice as you mentioned.

My father had a jewelry manufacturing facility and taught me labor
was too much to waste. Unless you have nothing to do, rolling out
wire and sheet is not worth your time for the few dollars saved.

David Geller
www.jewelerprofit.com


#15

Janet, you can include your cost of milling the metal in the labor
part of the pricing formula. This answer is about how to price the
metal in your pricing formula.

In your formula, you need to account for metal replacement and
waste. Replacement value is today’s metal price, not your actual
cost. Waste includes the estimated cost of scrap and refining.

Also, mistakes create waste. Even if you did not make a mistake on
this item, you will make mistakes in the future. Your business should
pay for your mistakes because they naturally occur while doing
business.

If you double or triple the value of the metal in your pricing
formula, you are accounting for estimated waste as well as the
replacement value of the actual metal in the item.

A pricing formula is a guideline. When your formulated price exceeds
market value on an individual item, you can adjust your price on that
item.


#16
I'm sure it's the same in Israel as well as the USA. But the cost
to buy sheet and wire over casting grain is a few dollars per ounce
more. Its not twice as you mentioned. My father had a jewelry
manufacturing facility and taught me labor was too much to waste.
Unless you have nothing to do, rolling out wire and sheet is not
worth your time for the few dollars saved. 

Not worth my time?

Let’s crunch some numbers, shall we?

If I want 6’ (72") of 3.26mm (8ga)14k yellow wire tomorrow and order
today from Stuller, it will cost me $7,332.00 plus $18.62 for next
day FedEx shipping. ($7350.62).

If I make it myself, going by the price of gold today, assuming I
had to buy it today, which of course I don’t since I’m a jeweler and
have gold sitting around that I paid considerably less for many years
ago, (YMMV) @$1697.56 spot (plus some % over that for the dealers
profit and a smidgen for alloy), I’d be paying $760.49 for the
convenience of store-bought wire.

Here in the technical vastness of flyover country, $760.49 ain’t
chopped liver!

And before you come back with the idea that drawing 6 feet of 3mm
wire takes huge effort on my part, I built, from parts purchased at
Harbor Fright, an electric wire drawing machine that allows me to
sit on my fat backside and push a button while I draw this gauge
wire. It literally takes not much more effort than that (I still have
to anneal). The parts to build this machine (not counting the draw
plates & draw tongs) plus my labor to build it cost $274.00 and has
long since paid for itself.

(Anyone can write me off list and I’ll be happy to explain how this
machine is built. It also has a footprint that is 14"x14" on my
floor but requires you have a 12’ ceiling in your shop.) Paf Dvorak


#17
My father had a jewelry manufacturing facility and taught me labor
was too much to waste. Unless you have nothing to do, rolling out
wire and sheet is not worth your time for the few dollars saved. 

The above quote is taking from comparison between casting grain and
sheet and wire. I want to show the difference between buying sheet
and wire, and making it yourself by recycling scrap.

“just a few dollars” is a common phrase, let’s see what it translates
to. Rio Grande sells 14k wire at $55.42 a pennyweight. At gold price
$1694.25, gold content of pennyweight of 14k alloy is

$1694.25 / 20 * 0.583 = $49.39

That is more than $6 per pennyweight or $120+ per ounce. !4k gold
sheet carries the same labour charge. But this is not the whole
story. If you need to make a disk from this gold, the price goes up.
Here is how: To make 25mm disk, one should start with at least 26mm
square. For ease of calculation I take 1mm thickness. Then weigh of
26mm square will be

13.07 (density) * 0.676 (volume in cm^3) = 8.84 grams or 5.7
pennyweight

Weight of 25mm disk is using the same calculations is 5.25
pennyweight. So simply by punching out disk, our cost becomes closer
to $9 for pennyweight. On average, hand-fabricated item is around 10%
of it’s raw material weight and that is if you know what are you
doing. So “a few dollars” translates to $60 per pennyweight. Another
way to look at it, if you made a 16 pennyweight item, you left $1000
with your refiner. And that amount assumes no reworks and no
mistakes. Now can you estimate how much money you are wasting in 1
year, 10 years, lifetime ?

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#18
My father had a jewelry manufacturing facility and taught me labor
was too much to waste. Unless you have nothing to do, rolling out
wire and sheet is not worth your time for the few dollars saved. 

Sometimes you have no options but to roll your own, especially when
you make your own alloys, but there are always exceptions :wink: CIA


#19
I'm sure it's the same in Israel as well as the USA. But the cost
to buy sheet and wire over casting grain is a few dollars per
ounce more. Its not twice as you mentioned. My father had a
jewelry manufacturing facility and taught me labor was too much to
waste. Unless you have nothing to do, rolling out wire and sheet
is not worth your time for the few dollars saved.

Perhaps this is true for a jewelry manufacturing facility buying in
large quantities, although a few dollars per ounce seems like
shockingly little. . I’m talking about the small jeweler who buys
enough for one or two pieces of work at a time.

The suppliers here are closed now, but I will check and report back.
I’ll also check at Rio. Periodically thru the years when I checked,
it seemed like a lot more. Maybe it’s because you’re comparing to
casting grain, which I assume is more expensive than pure gold, pure
silver, and pure copper, which what I always did?

Janet in Jerusalem


#20

Over the 35 years I have been drawing and rolling my own stock I
have saved thousands of dollars. Sure I usually try to do it in my
down or spare time but I can always make the exact size I need and
having crunched the numbers like Pat I learned long ago that milling
charges really add up. Not to mention shipping. I don’t have a power
draw bench but I did adapt an old trailer winch off a boat trailer
for drawing heavy wire and white gold. Saves my back and I got it for
free. Takes about 10’ open space on the bench about 10" wide. All I
can say is, do the math, I can can drawn down Pat’s wire in about
30-45 min from start to finish, and at over $750 savings, that means
some serious profit!. Frank Goss