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Jewelry Co-Operatives?

Dear Orchidians-

Are any of you participating in or aware of any exisiting
Metalsmith/Jewelry Co-operatives? I would be very grateful for your



If by Metalsmith/Jewelry Co-operative you mean shared studio and
retail space, then for 10 years I was involved in one. We closed the
Edgartown Jewelers Studio about 18 months ago. Usually there were 4
studio partners sharing the studio expenses.

Rick Hamilton

Are any of you participating in or aware of any exisiting
Metalsmith/Jewelry Co-operatives? 

Do you mean the kind where you share space? or the kind where you run
a gallery together?

Where are you located?

There are many shared space places – Metalwerx in Boston,
Lillstreet in Chicago off the top of my head. I’m sure there are

Not true cooperatives, I don’t know of any of those.

The kind where you run a gallery together – around here these don’t
seem to last long. They open with great enthusiasm and die a slow
death by committee. They generally are made up of artists from a
variety of media.

Hope that helps.

Metalsmith since 1990
and Certified PMC Instructor

Red Tent Design Group, (a division of Silk Road Enterprises,and it’s
parent Golden Triangle Ltd., is a long established multi-channel
operation that is international and both supply chain oriented and
comprised of the gamut of artisans,consultasts,
craftsmen,tradespeople, mining concerns, a well-equipped research and
development component,venture capital component and as of 2001
getting into micro-loans to fourth world women’s businesses.
Presently,It is privately held but expecting to go to public ly
traded stock by 2009.Membership is by submission of representative
work in whatever genre you are working in- not only as an art
jeweler but perhaps a marketing consultancy, financier, there is even
a seasonal cuttlefish bone producer in the design group…It is one of
the most membership driven organizations I have ever worked with ( i
am a consultant to RTDG,and some of their affiliated LLC’s and
proprietorships), so I can attest,first hand to many of the aspects
of their business collective ( though it is a for-profit
conglomerate). If you want more info feel free to email me off list


Dear Kim,

I was a partner in a jewelers cooperative here on Martha’s Vineyard
for many years. Another Orchid member Rick Hamilton was also a
member of the studio. The studio was active for ten years and we
just closed it last year. What did you want to know about the setup?
We had four members with a shared polishing area and a joint front
showroom. The rest of the space was equally divided(as equal as
possible) into four spaces for our benches and work spaces. We all
split the rent, electric, gas and infrequent advertising costs. PM me
if you need more info.

Beth McElhiney

Fingers contemporary jewellery in Auckland, New Zealand. Ruth is one
of the founding partners, and I’ve exhibited there since about 1979.

Fingers began in 1974 when six jewellers rented premises in
Auckland’s Lorne Street. They were working with new ideas, materials,
and processes, and wanted to create a gallery space dedicated to
contemporary jewellery, where they could exhibit and sell their work.
Their paramount concern was the selection and presentation of work of
the highest standard, setting-up and staffing the gallery themselves
to ensure their aims were achieved. In the beginning the task was to
sell work made in the partners’ studios, but Fingers soon began to
show work from exhibitors outside the partnership. […] The time
when the partners all worked one day a week in Fingers has gone
however… Fingers continues with a varied exhibition program, and
currently the work of 48 New Zealand makers is represented.


B r i a n A d a m a n d R u t h B a i r d
J e w e l l e r y
Auckland New Zealand

This is a very interesting question. Actually, we have mooted this
idea for some time now.

The rationale for cooperatives is as follows:

The stone prices are decided by mining conglomerates such as De
Beers. Thus, there is a limit to which discounts can be offered.
Prices depend on regularity of the orders and quantities play a
significant role.

Small buyers can never hope to buy at the same prices that large
buyers manage. However, if many small buyers unite, they CAN wield
considerable clout, can’t they? Therefore, we have said that buyer
alliances are the need of the hour.

Besides, buyer alliances are being favored all over the world by
small and medium enterprises. The buyers get better prices and the
manufacturers get higher volumes which is a pre-requisite for
efficient production and buying of raw materials. This creates a
win-win situation for both, the buyers and the manufacturer.

Else, the only solution for a small enterprise would be to buy from
a large manufacturer who MAY do them a favor by quoting good prices.
However, the latter are usually reluctant to deal with small buyers
due to production inefficiencies and also due to the fact that they
are guaranteed large volumes by the bulk buyers. Thus, there is a
very real reason why buyer alliances are being favored by small and
medium enterprises all over the world.

Next, please check out the links, and T

hese links talk about the way in which impoverished and illiterate
dairy farmers in some of the most backward regions of India came
together to form one of the largest cooperative movements in the
world. As a result, the farmers got more control that, till then, was
in the hands of the traders and middlemen.

Also, buyer/supplier alliances are gradually becoming popular all
over the world. Please search for ‘buyer alliances’ on Google and you
will see a lot of links that mention the benefits of such a strategy. and

These articles mention the importance of buyer/supplier alliances for
better pricing, supply management, logistics’ support and many other

Just my 2 cents.

Mumbai, India.


There is a thriving Women’s Jewelry Association chapter in San
Francisco – and many members are in the retail sector. If you
connect with their president she might be able to help.

their website is : Tel:
650-692-7880 for current President: Pratima Sethi

Good luck,
Cindy Edelstein


Today, 30 Aug 2007, was the first day of IIJS 2007 (India
International Jewelry Show) held at Mumbai, India.

Interestingly, there was a seminar that mooted this very idea of
small buyers cooperating with each other to garner better buying
prices, market share, greater sales, etc. The speaker also said that
this is the only way small businesses can compete with the big boys.
Else, there is a very real danger of small businesses becoming
extinct since they cannot compete with large ones on ad spends,
purchases, footfalls, sales turnovers,…

Mumbai, India.

I forgot to add this.

The speaker also gave examples of successful campaigns that a
jewelers’ association pulled off. This included bulk raw material
purchases, bulk buying of media for promotions, increased sales and
so on. Apparently, the short term benefits in terms of sales and the
long term impact in the minds of the consumers was really great. It
looks like cooperatives are the way forward for small businesses.

Mumbai, India.