Gold labor

I haven’t seen this one discussed on Orchid (as Dr. Aspler says, our
daily dose of Orchid – reminds me of the old song, “… as regularly
as coffee or tea, it’s gettin’ to be a habit with me”). Here 'tis:
Somebody told me that he prices his labor on gold items at 50 percent
more than on silver. Why? Because the market will bear it. Example:
I make a silver item in an hour, charge $5 for shop overhead, $5 for
the silver, $20 for labor, total $30. I make the same item in gold:
$5 for overhead, $200 for the gold, $30 for labor, total $235.
Customers look at the two pieces, and they may bargain with me in the
usual way, but it’s unlikely they will say (or think), “The gold one
is over-priced by about $10.” The market will bear it (and you
increase your paycheck by 50 percent) because the labor is a small
proportion of the metal value. Multiple choice question: This is: (a)
smart; (b) unethical; © common practice; (d) off-base; (e) any
combination of the above; (f) other – fill in the blank _______.

Andy Crosby @Andrew_Crosby

Hello Andrew, It is common practice to charge more per hour to work
on gold than silver. And more yet to work on platinum. Have fun. Tom Arnold


I’d have to answer a) smart - but for the wrong reason. :slight_smile:

Your friend’s margin of profit on the gold piece may seem larger -
but I believe that’s a false impression. Consider that he has much
more capital tied up in a gold item than he does in a similar silver
item. He runs a greater risk of loss when he places a gold item out
for sale. Therefore, the difference in price actually belongs in the
"overhead" category, rather than in the “labor” category. In my
opinion that’s a concise and honest reply to the question of ethics.


You can’t call the price you charge for an item an ethical issue.
How much you can or will charge for a piece is based on a wide variety
of factors including your location, your reputation (or brand–i.e.
Tiffany’s can charge a lot more for their product than Long’s
Jewelers), your costs of doing business, including overhead, labor,
stocking charges, etc, and your own feelings of self worth. Even if
you charge a lot more for the same product than someone else, this is
not unethical. Ethics only enter into it if you are dishonest about
what you are selling, not how much you charge for it. Daniel R. Spirer,
GG Spirer Somes Jewelers 1794 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140

Although different artists have many varying formulas for their
pricing, I would like to share the thought that as a professional
artist, once one has determined a specific wage that is appropriate
for your own individual circumstances, that wage should apply to
almost any activity. The same wage should be pretty much standard for
all aspects of your work regardless of whether you are designing,
fabricating, casting, consulting, etc. This approach was the general
consensus of the group of professional artists attending Alan
Revere’s ‘Marketing Designer Jewelry Class’ April 1994. Most of the
jewelry artists I know charge the same labor rates regardless of the
material being worked. For myself, the only time I charge a higher
labor rate is for specialty work when it involves setting very large
and expensive I hope this is helpful. Michael David Sturlin

...... It is common practice to charge more per hour to work on gold
than silver. And more yet to work on platinum.  

Why charge more for gold than for silver? In other words, why less
for silver? Afterall, time is time and I feel my time is just as
valuable whether I am doing silver work or gold work - even platinum
work. My time is figured at the same rate whatever metal I am
working with. Customers with silver items may feel I am a bit
expensive, but that’s too bad. With 25+ years experience, I think my
time is worth what I ask.

Everything, tools, utilities, general overhead except materials, are
at a fixed cost whatever metal I am working with, so why discount my
labor just because I am working with a cheaper metal? Is Rio, Swest,
Gesswein, etc., going to sell me a file cheaper if I tell them I will
only use it to work with silver? Hardly!!! Tell the grocery store
manager that you only work with silver, therefore your groceries
should cost less than mine…then run…before he gets the
guys in the white coats after you.

With labor prices based on the metal worked with, I need some brass
items cast. Anybody willing to cast them for me? I would be happy
to pay $3.00 each.

Seriously, I do have some brass items I would like cast. Anybody
interested in talking with me about them?

Howdy: Seeing as how silver requires more work sometimes I charge
more…depends on stone removal… there is a place in Seattle
that does mass brass casting… as soon as I get back I’ll forward
the number…Ringman John

On the issue of charging less for doing silver work … I agree 110%
with AUFIN and John th ringman… Especially when it comes to doing
work on silver pieces with stones in them. 9 out of 10 times the
amount of heat it will take to do the work on silver will surely do
damage to the stones. Therefore they have to come out.that equals more
work… Not only that but it is not really the metal that matters. It
is the skill that is involved in doing the job itself, wether it is
gold silve or platinum… I know jewelers who can squeak by doing any
repair job, it won’t look that great, but the piece is fixed. Then
there are those of us who do the job properly every single time… We
shouldn’t be paid less to do the same work on a piece of silver just
because silver isn’t as expensive… Marc