I’ve generally used the 3x materials method when pricing sterling
pieces to establish the wholesale price. If I am retailing it myself
then I double the wholesale price.
For pieces with carved gemstones I triple the materials cost plus I
add an hourly rate to establish the retail cost, then I half that
for wholesale. Notsure if this is really logical, but it works for
For gemstone carvings there is another factor. I use the above
formula to generate a price, but then I consider how the item fits
in with my general body of work. Some pieces just fly together and
the whole project is like magic, and some projects get bogged down.
Once I have the formula number comparing it to the rest of my work
helps keep my from feeling like I’m under- or over- charging. I
suppose the same can be said for the 3x materials formula. By
removing actual labor time you flatten the bell curve.
Pricing my etched copper pieces happened from the other direction. I
originally created only commissioned work, both retail and
wholesale. When I started selling from a booth at shows the cheapest
item on my table was $300, which did not work with my audience
(Celtic Festivals, Renaissance Faires, and such). I quickly added a
line of sterling with gemstones which priced at $20 -$100 using the
above formula. After a while I began to realize that I needed
something in the $10 - $20 price point. I started creating the
etched copper pins and selling them for $12 for the 1" diameter pins
and $15 for the 1.25" pins. Actual time and materials cost played no
part in determining the price, I just made them up to fill the price
point. Over the years I have ramped up production (etching 50-60 at
a time) and now make a living wage from wholesale orders. In the
beginning I wouldn’t sell them wholesale because I couldn’t afford
to (etching 3-6 at a time).