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Keystone -- how to explain

Hi All,

I’m sure there was a thread on Orchid defining “keystone” in the past
couple of years, but I can’t seem to locate it. I need a clear and
direct explanation for people new to jewelry and lapidary. Would
appreciate your help.

Thanks in advance,

Glendale, California
Carol J. Bova @Carol_J_Bova

Keystone is a markup on jewelry that is double the cost. Pay $10.00
wholesale. Sell for $20.00 retail.

Keystone means 50% off retail price. If an item were priced at
$10.00 and the dealer offered keystone to you it would cost you $5.00.


Dear Carol

Keystone is not hard to explain it’s a 100% markup. And when you hear
terms like triple key it means a 300% markup. HTH


The definition that Daniel Spirer gave is exatly right on!!!
Keystoning simply the doubling of your cost of an item. Put another
way, it is a 100% mark up.

Richard Blahnik
Lufkin, Texas


Keystone is 100% markup (selling price 2 times the wholesale price).
Some times you’ll hear the term triple keystone, this is 300% markup
(selling price 3 times the wholesale price).

I’m all for triple key when I’m selling(bg)!


Cost of Marketing, Return on Investment, Exclusive Designs, Rare
Materials/Minerals have made Keystone obsolete

I had a retail Clothing & Jewelry Store in Upstate New York in the
early seventies.

Keystone was a terminology used by the garment industry. Simply put
it meant that the retail price that has been put on the garment by
its manufacturer was 100% above the retailers cost.

However in Jewelry the retail price was always 3 times cost. Unlike
clothing jewelry took a longer time to sell and the price of metal
fluctuated daily and it use to be mostly an upward trend. The cost to
replace inventory was taken into account.

Later Keystone markup meant twice the price of cost. Perhaps the word
Keystone came from Keystone State home of the Pennsylvania Dutch who
believe in Honor & Honesty.

In the early seventies when things were simple this worked fine and
most of the retailers held on to the prices till the end of the
season. Later in late eighties everything went down the tubes.
Discounts were given at the beginning of the season.

In the nineties Outlet centers had Retail prices & Markdown prices
printed on the tags from the manufacturers. And then further
discounts were given during the season. Late nineties the
manufacturers had their own outlet centers.

Now in the new Millennium. Huge corporations such as Home depot,
Sam’s, Costso, Office Depot, Victoria’s Secret, Target have a
different cost price than Little Vinny, Big Irving or Honest Tyron.
There is no guidelines on selling prices it has been replaced by
bottom line & quick bucks.

When you have jewelry being made in Thailand, India, Bali, Guatemala,
Ecuador of Gold, Silver, & Gem Stones using same material as a
designer in New York, San Francisco, or a jeweler in Little Rock,
Boulder, Asheville to an artist on a reservation or in a community on
what factors are going to determine your cost. Material & Labor cost
alone will never be enough. It is the Cost of Marketing, Return on
Investment, What the market will bear, If it is too hot get out
of the kitchen mentality that will survive unless you want to live in
Lancaster Pennsylvania.

My two cents worth

Kenneth Singh

Hi Carol, If a piece of jewelry cost 100.00 dollars to make (time,
materials and shop costs), To “keystone” it is to double this cost.
In this case the price would be 200.00 dollars. The term “triple
keystone” means you would triple the cost and charge 300.00 for the
piece. Have fun.

Tom Arnold

Keystone is relatively easy to understand, but please explain “Double
Keystone” and “Triple Keystone”

Best regards
Robert Lowe

How right you are Kenneth. Keystone is essentially cost based
pricing. Price is determined by cost. Nowdays it’s just the opposite,
price based costing. The market establishes the price. Costs
determine profit. It really comes down to three issues:

  1. Revenue coming in

  2. Money tied up in work in process inventory

  3. Operating expenses

At one time, you could increase revenue by raising prices in order to
attain profit. Nowdays one must minimize work in process inventory
and operating expences to make the same profit.



There is no “double keystone” since keystone is already double
wholesale. Triple keystone is three times wholesale.

Jerry in Kodiak

Robert Lowe,

Triple keystone is 3X markup. Buy for $10, sell for $30. I have
never personally understood what is meant by double keystone. I think
people are actually referring to keystone (which is a 2X markup) as
opposed to triple keystone when they use this phrase.

I’m a little confused. If selling at 2 times the wholesale price is
a 100% mark-up (which seems pretty clear), isn’t selling at three
times wholesale a 200% mark-up, and wouldn’t that be "double"
keystone? Under that scheme, triple keystone would seem to me to be
selling at 4 times wholesale (a 300% mark-up). Is this correct, or
am I missing something?

Neda Nassiri

Keystone is relatively easy to understand, but please explain
"Double Keystone" and "Triple Keystone" 

It may sound ridiculous but there is no “double keystone.” As
everyone else on this thread has stated, we use the term “keystone"
itself to denote twice wholesale or 200%. (See Ettagale Blauer’s
posting for the origin of the term.) “Triple keystone” or just
"triple key” means thrice wholesale or 300%. In other words, 100% is
wholesale, 200% is keystone, 300% is triple key. Anything in between
would be expressed as a percentage, hence “keystone plus 20%” for


Neda’ Methinks you are combining that which need not be combined. The
fact that keystone represents a 100% markup over your cost has no
bearing on the fact that the definition of keystone is 2Xcost. Jerry in

Clearly people are using “keystone” in more than one way.

Some people are saying this refers to the seller’s markup. If I buy
something for $10, and sell it for $30, you’d say I was selling at
triple keystone. Frankly, I don’t mark up everything the same way,
nor do I advertise to my customers what my markup and profit are. My
prices are marked at retail and can be discounted to wholesale
customers, based on my cost and how much they are buying.

My experience with keystone pricing is more as a buyer at shows where
dealers are selling to both retail and wholesale customers. If I see
an item marked $100, and the seller tells me the price is keystone, I
know my price as a wholesale buyer is $50. If he tells me its triple
keystone, my price is $33.33. For all I know, the seller bought that
item for $10. His markup and profit are none of my business. Clearly
that $50 isn’t the seller’s cost, or he’d be out of the business the
first month.

(doing laundry and packing for Tucson)