How to price my jewelry for the NY market?

Hi there,

I know this subject has probably worn out its welcome over the years
but i do need to revisit it once again. It does have a different
slant to it though so it might hold your interest.

I have made high-end semi precious beaded jewelry for many years and
always used the same formula when pricing.

Material costs x2 + time = Cost to retailer

I now work with Precious metals and diamonds.

Should I double the price of Gold and Diamonds when quoting the
price to a Gallery or Shop?

Should The Mark-Up Be Any Different When Dealing With The New York

I have recently been offered the opportunity to sell my jewelry on
Madison Ave and I could really do with your advise and guidance on
the Ins and outs.

The reason I mention this is because I was told that my jewelry was
too inexpensive and should be hiked up for the New York market.
Someone I met in the fashion biz gave me this advice…

I will not be selling to any other state in the country so my price
would not differ from state to state.

I would really appreciate your helpful advice on this one. Thank you
so much!

Best wishes to you all in 2013
Co Dublin, Ireland

Tina- Always double your materials costs. The only time we don’t
double our material costs or lower our mark up is when the piece we
are selling is worth more than $25,000.00 or so. Then we’ll
negotiate. But only if we really like the customer. We charge more
for jerks. The price of our services and goods sometimes depends on
the attitude of the customer.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

I’m a bit puzzled as to why you would raise a price for a certain
region- particularly one in which the diamond trade is well
established, if not existing as one of the 4 big diamond trade
centres. Your formula is also a bit dated. retail is usually cost x
2.5 these days. So you first figure out your costs, from overhead to
materials and labour and work from that if retailing, but in the “NY
Market” as you put it, it sounds like you are trying to sell to
wholesalers, or re-sellers. Galleries are a different story (and
formula depending on their policies which vary from business to

Of course seeing your work would help me, personally, make any
recommendation People have done all grades of beading using materials
that by name, carry a higher perceived value- it sounds like you,
yourself are following that marketing mentality- Precious metals as
in a clasp or toggle and diamond as in SI2, or I2 or worse isn’t the
same as using high quality material- I use rough diamond that is
often more valuable/costly than cut faceted stones! You should
probably make a triple key catalogue and distribute those with your
marketing presentation, or at shows, have that catalogue displayed
and handy for order takers to use as a guide. Also, look at work by
other designers similar to yours and analyse the price structure as
it relates to the materials used and general time constraints and
design elements that seem similar to yours-.and begin to price your
work competitively.

Don’t just “double’ the costs of the raw materials- there is far
more involved than cost of materials, but consider making a statement
on your marketing materials " Due to the volatile metals market the
prices herein are based on a $1700.00 gold fix. The actual cost will
show on your invoice on the day of your purchase” that way you have
intimated that the price will reflect the market and change
accordingly. I have a colleague that sells her enamelled 18 karat
based earrings for $2500-3500 USD a pair - I think its high for what
it is- regardless of who it is- if the work speaks to the form, has
good design and execution that is flawless, and quality is perceived
in every piece in a given collection within your catalogue you’ll
get whatever you ask. If your work has been priced for a target
market or to meet a price point rather than based purely on the
quality and sensibilities inherent in the piece then the
collectibility or demand for that work may not grow because you are
trying to please an audience rather than making art jewelery- or I
suppose beading in your case, which is traditionally has a lower
perceived value compared to one-off art jewellery. To get to the
point where the brand is recognised you must have all the right
marketing tactics and representation in place and the work should
reflect the same quality and image. because you have gone from say
gold filled to 14 kt components doesn’t indicate a major change in
perspective. just an upgrade. again, not knowing the level of work or
skills, etc. makes it harder to speculate or recommend anything solid
pricing-wise. rer

I will tell you a story about my experience with pricing…

I once made a life size sculpture of a mouse sitting on the top of a
wheat stalk in 18K yellow gold, the head of the stalk was missing
one corneal of wheat. the mouse was holding in his hands a 1/2 ct
Golden Canary Diamond it was really a pendant and his hands were
spring loaded so you could pull down the hands and remove the
pendant and the chain was stashed in his belly so he was a jewelry
box. the bowl was made out of malachite. Was real cute and a real
conversation piece. Gold was much cheaper then…

Well this piece I had priced at 2.5 times the cost of the gold price
and cost of the malachite plus labor. I thought it was expensive for
my clients. Everyone that came into my store loved the piece it sat
on the display case for over a year and no takers. People would
bring in their friends to see it. then one day I decided that I
really did not want to sell it so at the time the price was $3600.00
I upped the price to $13,000.00 the very next day a client who had
been in a year before walked and saw it again and asked what the
price was. I told him and he said I will buy it. I was shocked. then
he said he had seen it a year ago and did not buy it them because it
was too cheap!!! Now it had value and he could boast to his friends
when they saw it.

I then realized I needed to up my prices so I started with a simple
rule. every 6 months I would raise all my prices including repairs
10%. when sales started dropping off I would hold my prices at that
level. Over the course of a couple of years I went from making $35 a
hour to $125.00 per hour. very few people complained and I still
kept a 3 month back log on work.

Vernon Wilson

Congrats on your achievement. Fifth Ave., NY is an accomplishment!
In answer to your query, I personally recommend you price UP for your
limited NY market (after double checking that your wholesale price
already covers double your materials, labor, shipping and
insurance). One rationale is, it’s your exclusive American market,
and exclusive is usually more spendy, but the honest truth is I’ve
seen a quirk among certain segments of the buying public.

I have observed two things in higher end locales, (Aspen CO, Los
Angeles CA, Santa Fe NM etc.) The first is that some people with
money tend to equate PRICE with VALUE. As in, the higher the object
is marked, the more the object must be worth. The same object,
priced lower, apparently seems less valuable, less desirable. (When
I was a massage therapist, people asked me to RAISE my prices for
their LA friends, as “they would enjoy the massage more if it was
more expensive”.) Different world than the one I live in.

The other idiosyncrasy I’ve seen is that more people tend to ask for
a deal, or to quibble over price, in very high end areas. My theory
is that either it’s a power thing, or it makes the customer feel
‘special’. Not that they can’t afford it, it’s not worth it to them,
or they won’t buy it without the deal, more like it’s a game, part
of the purchasing experience. Not for everyone, just for a higher
percentage than in moderate income zip codes. (I might get one
person asking for a reduction in a ‘moderate’ area - otherwise, if
my prices are too high for them, they just walk away. In higher end
areas, @30% ask, “What’s the best price you can do for me on this” -
the highest priced item in the booth. If I come down for one item,
the customer often ends up purchasing 4 or 5 other items, with or
without any additional discount.)

So my response is, mark it up a little for those markets, give the
discount (or not) if asked. Makes both parties happy.

I recommend adding on 15% (or ?) for NY, tell the gallery they can
discount to make the sale - if your volume isn’t where you want it
after a couple of months, lower the price 15%, back to where you
started. (I don’t have a venue on Fifth Avenue, but that’s what I’d

Let me be clear, this has been my experience, others’ may vary. I do
the art fair circuit, and have items in galleries in different
states for around five years now.


Sam Kaffine

I had a small shop in Talkeetna Alaska in 2007. a client came in
from New York and said I should open a shop in Soho and I could add a
zero to my prices and double that. I took it to mean that as a New
Yorker, she would see my $35 necklace turned into a $350 necklace,
doubled to $700 and still want to buy it. She bought a large number
of necklaces. Now I have some of my jewelry in a posh Dallas shop and
it is the same thing, by adding a zero, it becomes fashionable. I
just made a scarf of Mount McKinley. As I was thinking over the
posting on the pricing. My scarf became a wall hanging, and instead
of $100, I am going to ask $300 and set it on my Etsy site for a
while and see what happens. I also remember what a woman said as she
handled my Czech crystal necklace, and I told her it was
Czech… she turned to me and snapped "Not for $15 it’s not. I
sold about 4 of the same necklace for $50 for the rest of the season.
There was once a girl that brought in two necklaces at a consignment
shop I was managing. She had them priced $165 and $168. I studied
them for a week or so. We used the same material, my clasps were
better and my crimping much neater… so what was the
difference… Hers sold, mine didn’t… after
much thought I realized what the difference was that she valued
herself more than I did. Her confidence made her necklaces more
appealing to the buyers. Anyone can string beads, and I was great,
but had trouble with prices over $100 when I knew what the materials
cost. Now this wet felting embellished with beads, that is a
different level, it is artistic and put 100 people in a room and
maybe 1 or 2 could create my night scene of Denali. Here I think I
can see my confidence level soar. Blessings, and we each have
something that is worth sharing. Blessings pat

I always say it’s all about perceived value. “Wow! you guys sure are
expensive. You must be really good.” My sister in law tried to give
away a lap pool on Craig’s list. No takers.

Then she listed it on EBay for a few hundred dollars. Folks got into
a bidding war. She ended up selling it for many thousands of dollars.

Tim and I learned a long time ago to raise our prices when the going
got tough. Biz got better. But then we also had to be able to deliver
the goods. So far so good.

Never apologize for your prices.

Don’t get into a race to the bottom.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Feel good hearing your stories, guys!

They prove that what happened to me was not just a case: I’ve done a
ring that was really appreciate and a friend of mine ask me to
realize it for her wife.

When asked me how much it was priced, I told the price and he
answered it was too little to spend for a gift for HIS wife!

Lesson learned:

ask more, people will appreciate your work. ask less, people will
think they are buying cheap stuff…:wink:

It’s easy, the only difficult to solve (for me, as I think for
everyone which is loving is own “art”) the relationship with money.
we need to develop an inside commercial twin!

Have a nice day!


Wow! what a story!! I would love to see it. It sounds amazing.

Isn’t it crazy how it works. unfortunately I will be selling to
stores and treading softly to begin with until I can say I am
comfortably in the door. I will then have a look at some bold moves.

I do like the idea of adding 10% every year, it makes complete

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and knowledge.

It is precious!

Wishing you a great 2013

I would love to take a look at your work.

Here is an example of one of my necklaces. You are welcome to take a
look at the rest of my website content but it is totally out of date
by about 4yrs. I have had a few problems with my Adobe software.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work very well with my Apple computer. I
will rectify that problem soon.

Anyway this picture gives you an idea of my work. I have all my
beads handmade in Jaipur which gives me access to some very beautiful
materials. I have made necklaces like this one completely in 18k
yellow gold.

The gold really enriches the whole piece but of course adds an
incredible price tag too.

You should probably make a triple key catalogue and distribute
those with your marketing presentation, What is a triple key

I mainly make one off pieces so. I generally do not carry a

I took a collection of gold and silver highly detailed pieces with
me to show when I was in New York but everyone was attracted to the
beaded pieces. I was very surprised. but hey! Its wonderful !

I thought myself how to create these pieces at my Mums kitchen table
and now I have some very high profile New York stores complimenting
me on my fine work. its crazy!

Anyway, thank you contacting me and for being so generous with your
knowledge and your time.

Best wishes to you in 2013.

Thanks a million Sam.

I am very happy but when I pinch myself I do realize that it is very
early days.

We will see what the new year brings.

Thank you for your advice I will take it on board and try to stay on
the straight and narrow keeping in mind that I am in this business
to make a living.

I found your input very interesting, people are weird creatures with
very odd ways.

Thank you!
Wishing you a great 2013

Thanks to everyone who came to my rescue with so much good advice
and great stories of their experiences.

I am so grateful to you all for being so generous with your time and

Wishing you all a prosperous and happy 2013

Dear Tina, love your jewelry, and the time involved is huge. My
favorite is your Fruit of the Forest. Best of blessings with your
New York venture. respectfully pat

Thank you Pat,

My website is years out of date but the fruit of the forest is one
that I still produce.

Your compliments make me feel really happy. It is wonderful to get
such positive feedback.

Wishing you many blessings in all that you wish for.