Well, I really did give it a good try. I bought materials, bought
books, and tried to have several sales. I also have another full-time
occupation, so I was not able to devote as much time to this as I
would have liked. I had hoped that my jewelry business would earn me
modest profit off of the thousands that I invested, but have found
that it is extremely difficult to sell the type of jewelry that I
love to make. I like to make clean classic pieces that could be seen
on Jackie O or Grace Kelly, or to make romantic pieces that remind me
I would first like to say that I do not live in the US, I live in
Europe and have been shocked to find how much less people spend here
than Americans. If I were back home in New York City, it would not
have been as difficult for me to find outlets to sell my jewelry, I
certain of this. I am not criticizing, it is simply an economic
reality, taxes and prices are higher, which means that people have
less disposable income. Unfortunately, in the country where I live,
jewelry appears to be the one item that is cheaper than in the US, go
figure! People are used to paying very little for sterling silver
jewelry and are thus not willing to spend much on it.
My pieces are either sterling silver wire-wrapped pieces, pearls or
round gemstones knotted on silk, etc. I also had a line of
gold-plated brass filigree with stones – big mistake! People have no
idea how expensive it is to plate gold. I really love making jewelry,
but realize several things:
People can be very frugal with their money and jewelry is one of
the last priorities for many people. I am not complaining about this,
it is just the way that it is. Perhaps if I were selling baby formula
or diapers or had bought a share in a condo, I would not be in this
situation right now.
People are used to being able to buy silver for extremely cheap
prices – I have seen silver – real silver – selling for as under
$10 on eBay and have seen wire-wrapped pieces with gemstones –
including real ruby – selling for less than $20. Even large chain
stores sell sterling silver necklaces for under $15.
People would ooh and aah and say that my items were beautiful, but
one person wanted to pay only $40 for a necklace that I had made of
sterling silver and wire-wrapped rubies. There must have been about
50 or 60 rubies there and she thought she could get the necklace for
that price. Another person harangued and bargained me down until she
was able to get peruvian opals with a sterling silver earwire from me
for only $25. The same items would go for twice or three times that.
was also ripped off right and left by unscrupulous people, one vendor
told me that I would need a certain type of computer that was almost
four times more than a computer that I would normally buy if I wanted
to build websites. I had done months of research on computers, but I
am still a bit of a luddite, so I believed him. The computer crashed
and my warranty is useless and the vendor and computer manufacturer
have just ignored me.
All of my optimism about owning my own business and doing what I
loved has ended in tears.
I tried a Christmas market, no one was buying anything and the other
vendors in the market were literally almost tearing their hair out as
much of their incomes depended on Christmas. These were people in
their fifties who had children to feed and send to college. That was
when I really felt like I should get out of the business. Watching
these people, I felt like I had viewed the Ghost of Christmas Future.
It was scary. I was trying to sell items that I had paid tons of
money to gold-plate for only $22 or $36. I also tried several other
sales. I would say that I have not even made back one tenth of what I
put into the business. I had hoped to make some profit, but to not
even break even has been a big dissapointment. After figuring out how
much labor I have put into my each piece, I realize that I was barely
covering the cost of each item and that was not able to sell items to
customers for prices that included my labor. Some of my customers
would continually try to beat down the price. Other owners of market
stalls were really competititive and not willing to give feedback
when I tried to find out why my stuff was not selling - even after I
told them that I needed help selling off my jewelry because I was
going out of business! People at one market preferred to buy earrings
for under $5 that were basically glue and stainless steel. Most
were not selling what they made, they bought most of the items from
China and were selling them for dirt cheap. I tried to tell customers
that I had made the items with my own labor, but- suprise folks! -
customers could care less about that. They would rather buy a piece
of cheap silver, and could care less if it was made by you or in a
gulag. I am serious. I hope that no one will get offended as I am not
saying that all jewelry made overseas was made in a gulag.
I have a lot of respect for what all of you do and will never look at
jewelry the same way again. I now understand why independently
produced jewelry is so expensive. Unfortunately, I am facing
financial ruin and really need to sell off my equipment and the gems
and other items that I bought and also sell off the items that I
made. I would love to find stores that would like to buy the items
wholesale and also find people who might be willing to buy the gems
and other items.
I apologize for the long email, but I really felt that I had no where
else to turn and you guys were wonderfully helpful in the past. I
hope that people who are sincerely interested in giving constructive
advice about how I can sell off all of my items can give responses.
Please feel free to email me directly.
I have cried buckets over this and am at my wits end.