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How to price custom work?

I have recently been on a creative spurt. :slight_smile: So far I haven’t put any
of my new pendants in the showcase, because I can’t figure how to price
my work. All of them are hand fabricated in 14k with unusual stones.
Most are in the 100.00 cost of material range and anywhere from 5 to 10 hours
of labor. I guess I know in most cases how much I would like to price them
at, but I’m not very confidant about selling myself. It always hurts my
feelings when a customer thinks the price is unreasonable. So what do you

Janine, sun’s still shining in California


Although I’m sure you will get a lot of great suggestions now, you can also
search the archives. We had a pretty good thread about this several
months back. If you can’t find them, email me off-line and I’ll send you
what I saved.

Nancy (@nbwidmer)

We charge $60/hr and have for many years, if you’re buying right then
3Xcost should be no problem - so

$100 material cost X 3 = $300
8hrs labor @ $60/hr = $480
total = $780

Seem Like a lot???

Well, say you spent the above 8 hours on Monday “doing jewelry”, then, on
Tuesday you -spent 1 hour cleaning the shop, sharpening gravers, putting
new sandpaper on the sanding stick, cleaning the ultrasonic, etc…
-spent 1 hour going to the bank, the post office, picked up some office
-spent 2 hours working on new designs, figuring costs, defragging the
hard drive, removing the tarnish/showcase wear from some older pieces
-spent 1 1/2 hours on the phone ordering supplies, findings, metal, stone,
talked to retail and/or wholesale customers
-spent 2 hours balancing the checkbook, paying bills, talking to NEW
—That’s the better part of the 2nd day of the week - for which there is
no direct compensation except for what you “did” on Monday

My point is simply that the selling price must cover the cost of
overhead -
the fixed costs and variable nature of “other stuff” -
the business of “doing business” -

Hope this helps you get where you want to be - pricing wise

PS you can always start at $30/40 and work your way up

Russells of Camden Fine Jewelers

first off if they cant take it, ******… thats the way it goes, there
will always be people who are willing to pay what you ask. as a jeweller i
charge 20 to 25 dollars an hour labour… materials are doubled and that
money goes back into materials… ie more gold, more silver. my overhead
proabably figures into 30% of a piece, (rent , expendables, utils, etc)
charge what you think you are worth, and the bastards will pay it. dont
overprice or 30 years from know youll be making 1000 dollar earrings. Robb

All of them are hand fabricated in 14k with unusual stones.
Most are in the 100.00 cost of material range and anywhere from 5 to 10
hours of labor. I guess I know in most cases how much I would like to
price them Janine, This way i would price these pieces out. I take the
cost of materials and the cost of my labor add them together and then take
10% of that total and add that to the labor and materials.The ten percent
is to cover misc expenses like solder, shop supplies etc. So if your
pieces are 100$ in materials and say 7.5 hrs labor at 20$ that would be
250$ add these together for 350$ and take 10% i would get 385$ as my base
price. I then multiply this number by 3 to get my retail price is $1155.
By doing it this way if i were to wholesale the piece i would cover all my
costs and still make a profit. This formula puts me in the middle as far
as retail prices.All that said if the piece is a spectacular piece and is
a one of a kind i will sometimes double that price just to pat my self on
the back and give myself a bonus. Michael

Dear Janine,

First, be brave; be proud of your work. Ask yourself,
“what am I worth?” Think of your background of experience and hard-won
knowledge. How much would you like to be paid per week? Calculate this
back to an hourly rate.

Second, calculate the cost of your materials - metal, solder, gems, etc.

Third, add these together. This is your most basic,
never-to-be-cheaper-than-this cost.

My accountant told me to multiply the basic cost by 2.84. “If you want to
make a living - and a legitimate profit - stick to this X factor” he said.
“There are so many obvious costs, but many hidden costs.” He was right.
I’ve applied the “X factor” for the last 23 years, and while I haven’t
become an Aristotle Onassis, I’ve always paid my bills, paid for a roof
over my head, educated my children, and earnt a good living as a working

Hope this helps. Regards, Rex from Oz

Dear Janine:

Tough question! Depends on how much you value your time. Can’t replace
that ya know! I have been a repair/manufacturer of jewelery for over 20
years now and must confess that I still don’t have a firm handle on it.
How much does your mechanic charge per hour? Hairdresser? My point is
that you can charge whatever the traffic will bear. If your work sells
quickly, you know you’re too cheap. Do your have credentials? Ever
exibited? These things make a difference too. Are you selling retail or
wholesale? Is this your main source of income or just a hobby? I think
the best rule of thumb would be to add up your cost of materials and
double it. # of hours per piece and consider what else you could be doing
instead. How much would someone pay you to do that? It’s a guessing game
to a great extent.

Hope this helps;

Hi Janine,

I wholesale so you would double or triple my price. I always triple
materials, except stones (plus a setting charge plus a difficulty charge
(add a little if its easy, substantially more if its harder). So a 4 dwt.
14k pendant would run about $140.00 plus setting and the stone, lets say
a fancy amethyst that cost $30.00, would be another $60.00 (I only double
that). Plus another $30.00 for setting (more if made the setting
separately and attached it). So I would sell this for $230.00 . My
customers would sell it for $460.00 to $575.00.

It seems complicated once I write it down but its very clear in my head.
The mark up on stones is tricky. Color is hard for people to gauge the
cost, value is often related to taste in color. Some people only like
really dark sapphires and would consider a cornflower blue one
undesirable. Diamonds are easier for people to evaluate and price. I have
made a price list for labor charges and work from that. I try to keep in
mind what my customers will be able to sell my work for so everybody can
make money, not just me. Its good to see what you competitors are getting
for the same thing, but don’t let that be your only guide your work may be
worth more, much more.

Mark P.
so dry my lawn is turning brown

My method:
Materials + $ per hour (design and fabrication)+ % commission = Price PS :
be sure you want to make it again for the same price. CoitArt

Thanks for all the input on pricing. I have been in retail for 20 years
also and have never been real confident of myself. I guess I’m getting
there now. Being self taught has been a slight disadvantage. At least
now I know I’m not out of line to want 700.00 or so for by best pieces.
Thanks, Janine in california

When pricing your work, I suggest you start with a figure in mind that
reflects what you want to earn by the hour. After all, if this is your
source of income, you better be able to make a living. Be realistic,
though. An apprentice can’t expect the same hourly rate as a master.

Here’s the formula:
[(# of hours to make the piece X 2.5 this reflects marketing, paperwork
etc.) X (desired hourly rate)] + [cost of materials X 2.5 should cover
overhead and pay for materials] = sales price

I price some items a little higher, others a little lower than this. If I
got a great deal on a gem, I’ll mark it up more.

Here’s to making a living at something you love!
Tom Tietze, The Artisan Workshop

My method: Materials + $ per hour (design and fabrication)+ % commission = Price
PS : be sure you want to make it again for the same price. CoitArt

I think this is why it is so hard to change the tax code. What do
you include as materials? What proportion of a tank of gas did it
take to make this piece? How much sanding paper, electricity,
depreciation on tools? In your dollar per hour do you include double
fica tax? health insurance? etc.

I do really agree with “be sure you want to make it again for the
same price”. Got myself caught in this one and I’m now (until I
get my catalog and demos changed selling something for $27
(wholesale) that takes me upwards of 5 hours to make. Aargh.

kathi parker, MoonScape Designs