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How do you sell off a jewellery business?

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
of nature.

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Hi Annabel

I’m so sorry to hear of the trouble you are having getting off the
ground. I have been trying for about 4 years now. I make about 2k a
year(much of the problem is my lack of drive/focus/willingness to
get out there). Others are not always making as much as you think
they are, but many don’t like to say. I just wanted to put in that,
even though you do not live in the U.S. does not mean you cannot sell
in the U.S. Perhaps, if you are willing to share photos, some on the
forum can recommend venues/outlets based on the styles and prices of
your jewelry.

There is one point that I found concerning and this is your
willingness to bring down your prices to match what you think people
will pay. Another way to look at it may be “what can I make that is
stylish and salable in the 65 dollar price range” as opposed to “how
low can I bring my hourly rate to be able to price my hand-knotted
pearl necklace at 65 dollars”

I spoke to someone once. She did many large shows in New England
years ago. When she started, she was making hundreds of 65 dollar
rings because they were selling like hot cakes. The only problem was
she was exhausted. At one large show, she finally collapsed. She now
teaches and makes more high-end jewelry.

I have read that about 70% of retailers in the U.S. go out of
business (this may be outdated now) in the first 3 years. It is
tough, so please don’t slam yourself. It is a continual learning
process. I would be quite willing to show you some of my
better-selling low-priced items if it would give you any perspective.
I really hate to see people not be able to get a leg up in what they
love to do for there is no better feeling than to wake up and do what
you want to do.

Have a look at and There is gold-filled and
gold-plated jewelry out there.

One last thing. One of my biggest weaknesses is buying things I do
not need. I have a 400 dollar polishing cabinet in the garage, a
wireless cc machine that has been used once and costs about 40
dollars a month, and a 1200 dollar jewelry case that has also been
used only once. We all make mistakes (some of us make a lot :))

If you want to try and come up with any other ways to handle things
(besides going out) I would be happy to help in any way I can. If
you are really ready to call it quits, don’t be so tough on yourself.
Often, when bad things happen to me, it means that there are many
extra-good things ( that I cannot yet see) are right around the

Kim Starbard

I have read that about 70% of retailers in the U.S. go out of
business (this may be outdated now 

In the food business it’s 90% in the first year…This is certainly
a tough question - there’s no real answer that’s a “magic bullet”.
The essential thing, though, is that if you want to have a jewelry
business (or any business), as opposed to some art for art’s sake
ideal thing, then you have to make a product that people want to buy.
It seems so simple - you don’t have to “be commercial” or “sell out”,
you just have to have a product that people want, and will give you
money for - then you have cash flow…And of course they have to see
it. But if they see it and don’t buy it much, then there ya go.

Thanks so much for your message, Kim. In the country where I am, the
equivalent of $65 would be a lot for people to pay for a ring. I have
spoken to jewelers in market stalls, and one guy sold only ONE priced
at that level in one day. Most of my items have been priced at the
equivalent of five dollars or eight dollars. People have told me that
my stuff is beautiful but that the location is a problem. I have been
selling in market stalls or at cafes or parties a tiny town, and my
other occupation has prevented me from going on a regular basis to
the big city to sell my stuff or even from getting items on the web.
I have been selling very simple wire-wrapped briolettes attached to
sterling silver findings, as my more elaborate wire-wrapped pieces
are very time consuming for me to make and would cost more and people
were telling me that they were too broke to buy my jewelry as it is.

So basically, I am trying to just resell the raw materials that I
bought, such as gemstones and the tools that I bought. I was making a
fairly decent living at what I was doing before, so I think that I
will continue to do that full-time. I had hoped that this would
provide supplementary income for me and that it could possibly become
a full-time business, but I feel that it would probably be easier for
me if I invested in real estate.

So, any advice about how to sell off tools, and items like jewelry
boxes (i.e. cardboard packaging) and bags would be wonderful. I have
tried eBay but people are not buying. I mean, I am simply trying to
sell sterling silver findings and am offering them at dirt cheap
prices, but they are not moving.

As for spending, I have become so frugal now! Observing customers who
are cutting corners and spend very little has definitely affected me.
I do not buy anything anymore - no clothes for instance – and
certainly will not be buying any more supplies for decades. Once all
of these items sell out, that is it.

So, if anyone has any advice about how I can resell all of my tools
and other items, I would be most grateful.

Hello Annabel,

So, if anyone has any advice about how I can resell all of my tools
and other items, I would be most grateful. 

It would help if we at least knew the country from which you are
posting. What works in one country may be completely unsuitable in
another place.

Judy in Kansas

It would help if we at least knew the country from which you are
posting. What works in one country may be completely unsuitable in
another place. 

Thank for your message. I am the United Kingdom. I have found that
people’s shopping habits are really different here than back home.
People seem to be much more frugal, which is not a bad thing, unless
you are trying to sell jewellery to them (sigh!).