Minimum order for wholesale


i just got totally caught off-guard! i’m doing follow up (understand
this is all new for me!) and was talking w/a shop owner (via phone).
she asked me about my minimum order, (and, whew!, i just did make up
my “wholesale terms” page, after much help including following an
example from a long-time jeweler friend). i said i had a $500
minimum, which sounded reasonable to me based on my wholesale costs,
and put down 6-8 week turnaround for orders.

the women i was speaking to thought that, although she had often seen
that much for a minimum, that $300 was more typical. and she also
seemed like 6-8 weeks was reasonable for a first order, but that
repeated orders shouldn’t have that long a turn around time. can
anyone advice me as to what might be considered “standards” for
these type of questions before i go any further!


Hi Davida,

Before I write anything I want to say that this post comes from a
very supportive writer. Sometimes when a person writes, even positive
criticism it can come off as negatively critical. Please know that
I’ve been in your place. I know what you’re going through and I feel
for you. My hope is that this is post is helpful and will get you
through a very important phase in your career as a craft jeweler. Now
let’s get down to business.

First of all, there are no standards for this. Everyone has
different minimus, prices and delivery dates because everyone has
different financial requirements, skills and tastes. If there were
standards, I’m sure your long time jeweler friend would have pointed
that out.

Next, everyone who is in a small business must wear numerous hats.
What seems to have been your main difficulty is that when you were
talking to this client you didn’t have on your salesperson cap.

You’ve thoughtfully and concisely determined the terms that will
make you successful. A potential client has proposed objections based
on what they determine will make them successful. A classic sales

A truly successful salesperson, one who is well versed in all
aspects of their product and the market they sell in, will have
thought about the possible ramifications of their products and
services, be prepared for objections and work to overcome those
objections. That’s what sales is really about. It’s not just about
filling in sales forms or polite chat with customers. It’s about
overcoming objections and turning people around to your point of

Could you have pointed out items that take less time to create or
are more production oriented that will take less turn around time to
deliver? Could you have created desire for your product around your
status as an exciting ‘new artist’? The client basically did the
sales job for you in regards to your cost of initial orders
(explaining that she had seen minimums that high); and maybe she
doesn’t buy from people who have such high minimums, but that doesn’t
mean that your minimums are too high. At some point you have to stand
up for yourself.

This is primarily a problem that first time artists have with
confidence. You’ve researched, made up your mind and gone to market;
now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road. Go out there and sell
yourself! You’ll find it’s just as rewarding making work as it is
selling it once you get a little more experience under your belt.

A must read is the following book on selling, “No Thanks, I’m Just
Looking” by Harry J Freidman. It may be out of print, but find it and
read it. Another really good book on selling, but not perhaps as
cogent to this exact situation is “Selling to the affluent” by Dr.
Thomas J Stanley.

Good luck,


(Note to all people looking to start a business: Learn chess, become
good at it. Chess isn’t just about learning how the peices move and
the rules of the game; just as having a jewelry business isn’t just
about making jewelry and taking it to shows. Chess has an opening,
middle and end game. Lot’s of chess players have a good opening
game. What makes a great chess player is what happens after that. A
good chess player/bussiness person has to learn to think many moves
ahead. You have to know what you can do and all the possible moves of
your opponent/client, process those, think on your feet and steer the
game toward your goal. All good skills for an entreprenuer in the
business world. The game will help you strategize, but remember,
don’t be cynical or self-oriented. Our business is about building
relationships, not winning “the game”. If you are going in business
to win the game you’ll be disatisfied, because there’s no checkmate
in our business. Those most successful in this business are the ones
who find a way to make others successful with their product.)

Davida, given your price points, a $200-$300 minimum seems
reasonable, and provides a small but nice body of work to start
with. Because of the economy, retailers are reluctant to invest in
new artists requiring a large first order.

Turnaround time depends on you, and I would not understand why a
reorder would be any different from a first order in terms of time
to make.

Do realize that many retailers will multiply your wholesale price by
2.2x-2.5x typically, with some doing keystone (2x) and some 3x,
depending on location. There are some galleries that will not buy
from an artist that sells keystone on an artist website or something
like etsy.

I find a great place to start wholesaling if you
don’t want to go to the big wholesale shows.

Nancy Goodenough

Hi Davida,

I think the min order depends on your price points. How many pieces
would be in a 300 or 500 order? If your pieces run $30 each, that’s
16-17 pieces. Could be too many pieces for some stores, but other
stores might be fine with it. I used to have a min of $350- sounded
like a good non-threatening order. Most people order much more than
that, even if they are caught off guard with what they perceived to
be a high dollar amount.

For me, the most important thing about a first order is that they
get enough jewelry to make a statement or an attractive display in
their store. 5 pieces wouldn’t be strong enough… I now have a piece
min- I say 8-10 pieces instead of a $$ amount- My price ranges from
$13 stacking rings to $250 necklaces in sterling. Gold is totally
different. So $350 for me could be two pieces or 20… I also
think the buyers can be scared easily by a high dollar amount. Then
again, there are some buyers that would be scared by a $200 opening
order and some wouldn’t blink at $1500.00 it really just depends on
the buyer.

When people start questioning my prices or my min, I start asking
them questions… who else do you carry? What’s your average retail
price point? best selling? highest price point? That sort of thing.

I had a woman who was interested in my line for her store and she
seemed really price resistant, when I asked her her best selling
price point for jewelry she replied “Under $30”. I have only 3 items
that could retail for under $30. Then we discovered that she didn’t
realize my line was sterling and gold, she thought it was base
metals. Obviously not the line for her.

As far as turnaround time is concerned. How quickly can you
physically produce your product? If you can’t produce in less than 6
weeks, then 6 weeks it is.

Nobody has ever questioned me about turnaround time on reorders. I
need a 2-3 week min on everything- period. I tell my buyers if I can
get it out sooner, of course I will. But I need a few weeks to
produce- unless i have the item in stock. It also depends on the
size of the reorder. Don’t always assume that reorders will be
smaller than opening.

Hope this helps, and I’d love to hear what others say.

Amery Carriere Designs
Romantic Jewelry with an Edge

1 Like

Hi Davida,

You make beautiful jewelry! Just gorgeous! I, too, would be
interested in wholesale guidelines, as I’ve pretty much just worked
with individuals on custom orders up till now.

Thanks, everyone!

once again, to all who responded to this question, thank you! just
reading your responses prompts the “if only i…” button in my brain;
but the great part is i know i will have so many more opportunities
to activate that button before i get into these negotiations now! i
also wish there was some kind of a “pause” button i could hit in the
middle of some of these conversations… .! onward!