Charging for designs is based on an hourly rate which in turn is
determined by how good a designer one is. For example, a student
newly enthusiastic out of design school, but with no experience of
commission work and commercially untested drawing and rendering
skills, may have to compromise with a lower hourly rate.
On the other hand, an experienced jeweller and designer who has
highly developed bench skills as well as professional drawing and
rendering skills will be able to command a high hourly rate because of
their ability to not only conceptualise the design but to interpret
and develop their ideas into a practical, commercially viable, and
attractive piece of jewellery.
Some students are simply more talented than others and their work
will attract more interest and thereby justify a higher hourly rate.
Some beginning designers can draw like angels, but have little
practical knowledge of jewellery manufacture which lets their design
down through its inability to be realised in a viable form.
Oh yes… those designs that disappear with the client that Lisa
mentioned. Don’t forget that you the designer own the copyright and
the design at all times. You’ll find lots more on this in the
archives, but it’s worth repeating here.
You own the design. Your client is dealing with you.
They have commissioned you to do a drawing and probably a quote. Give
them a written quote and description of the work by all means. But
don’t give them the design unless they offer to buy it from you, or
you willingly sell the design and copyright, thus relinquishing your
claim to any eventual use of it.
Then there is the hourly rate. What will the market bear? How good
are you? Have you won lots of international awards where your work has
been judged by famous jewellers and found to be excellent? How many
years of experience have you had? Are they just rough sketches on the
back of a job packet, or are they fully rendered, beautiful colour
presentations? Are you a true jewellery designer who can confidently
move from drawing and rendering the design to sitting at your bench
and crafting it? These are real world questions which must be asked
and answered if you are not going to disadvantage yourself as a
Even your working environment can make a difference. Does the culture
you work in respect the designer-jeweller? What are your overheads? Do
you work from a home studio, or are you renting on Fifth Avenue next
door to Harry Winston? Make a few enquiries. If a washing machine
mechanic can charge you $120 an hour for the first half hour and $80
an hour thereafter, what must you be worth? (Our washing machine broke
down - I know about these things).
I’m an Australian, and I know that the jewellery buying public here
are fairly casual about recognising the true worth of what we do as
skilled artisans, but I’d make a guess and suggest that for a
qualified ‘newby’ a rate of around $20 per hour would be reasonable,
perhaps rising to $120 per hour for an internationally-acknowledged
professional producing award-winning quality designs.
Hope this sheds some light on a controversial topic.
Rex from Oz.