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Pricing a piece


Kennedi, I find pricing to be one of themost difficult aspects of
this business! I have used the formula 3 times materials, plus labor
for WHOLESALE. Double it for retail. Even then I usually add a
little bit to the wholesale price (I have been told 20% but rarely
add that much). I’m just now getting back into jewelry after a 3
year hiatus (moving/building a house) and I have lost some of the
confidence in my ability to price appropriately. The first gallery
visit will tell. Always guessing, Pegi


Hello Kennedi,

Richard’s model (multiply costs x 6) is a good starting point. In my
case, when I’m using silver purchased then the price was US$ 5/ oz, I
also factor in current replacement cost for the metal. The changing
metal price has been a bugaboo for which to account.

Now I just weigh the metal and calculate cost based on current

judy in Kansas


Ok so I have mathematical IQ that is roughly the equivalent of that
of an eye of a potato.

I really don’t understand why folks figure out the retail price and
then work backwards from there.

I just figure “This is how much I want for my work. What you sell it
for is your business.” Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Charles, what is an apro? 

A shortened form of apropos, in this case, is where the stone is
given to the jeweller for the client to inspect. No money has changed

Basically the client pays for the stone, the jeweller does not.

Kindest regards Charles A.

P. S. Some opal dealers will do this also.


That’s quite correct, a sale is an agreement between the seller and
the buyer.

You can sell a stick of gum for $1 million dollars if the client
agrees to the price.

Regards Charles A.



I use a very basic approach. I sell from $20 in sterling up to
$1000+ (for custom orders in 18 kt).

A $20 ring costs five dollars or less in silver and takes ten
minutes to make. $60 an hour profit.

A $50 ring costs ten dollars and takes one hour. $40 dollars an hour

A $600 dollar wedder costs $400 and takes a ten minute phone call to
supplier. $1000 dollars an hour profit.

A $1000 ring costs $600 and takes 2 hours to make. $200 an hour

The award rate for bench jewellers is about $20 an hour.

We all price to the market we sell to. If I sold in a city, instead
of a poor rural community my prices would be double or treble what
they are now. But the cost of living would be 2 to 3 times where I



When posters talk about 3 or 5 times the cost of materials, are they
talking about grams/oz. of pure silver or gold in the piece? It
makes a big difference if you are buying pure metals and doing your
own alloying, alloying with a premixed alloy purchased in shot form,
or simply buying ready made wire and sheet… What is considered

Janet in Jerusalem


Hi Guys,

question about pricing a piece comes up an awful lot on this list.

There are no hard an fast rules.

I chose the 5x cost of materials, because it was suggested to me by
some well respected teachers, it’s simple, and labour cost is covered
by that rate (you don’t need to incorporate them into your price).

Another way you could work out your pricing policy is to work
backwards from what you need/want to be paid over the course of a
year. Rent, superannuation, cost of materials, insurance, a whole
swag of business expenses etc. You can end up with an algorithm that
is tailored to your lifestyle and circumstances. The down side is you
can end up just thinking about finances, and not about your work.

There was a suggestion a while back (on another list), that there
should be a universal scale, and for obvious economical reasons the
suggestion was quickly retracted.

Regards Charles A.


Hi Janet,

In my case it’s the cost of raw materials, whether I purchase alloys
or do the alloying myself.

For example if I, if I want some red gold, I will have to make it,
getting a metal merchant to do a special alloy run is expensive. If
I want carat yellow gold, I’ll just buy it.

So basically it’s 5x whatever raw material I use. It works out for

Regards Charles A.


I am surprised at the amounts given in answers - I have been doubling
the cost, adding labor ($20/hour) and adding 10% profit for the
wholesale cost. Retail, whether sold at an art fair, at consignment
gallery or through my website, is double the wholesale cost. I’m not
making it. Reviewing others’ pricing formulas is illuminating, to say
the least. I can raise my prices, but think I’ll also have to make
better stuff, because I have a hard enough time selling what I make
at my (too low?) prices. So I thank you for the formulas already
given, but here is my question - how does one price items when one
starts working in gold? My skill set is the same, do people who work
in gold really double (or triple) the costs? Does labor remain the
same rate? Any insights are very welcome.


Sam Kaffine
Sterling Bliss, llc

Charles, what is an apro? A shortened form of apropos, in this
case, is where the stone is given to the jeweller for the client to
inspect. No money has changed hands. 

Don’t you mean “on approval”?

Al Balmer

If you are buying pure metals and doing your own alloying,
alloying with apremixed alloy purchased on shot form, or simply
buying ready made wire and sheet. what is considered "materials?' 

Janet, If you consider your time, effort, equipment, etc. involved
in doing your own alloying, rolling, etc., the cost of materials
should come out the same as if you had bought it ready made. I use
the price it would cost me if I had to replace it commercially.

Jerry in Kodiak


I find this thread interesting and it sure will help me look at
pricing my work. However, I notice that no one has discussed price
research into comparables, which is one way an appraiser would price
your work (the other being some form of what you’ve been discussing,
cost of materials plus so much labor and markup). No matter what
formula you use for computing your labor and costs, if you find true
comparables going for much less, it is going to impact what you can
sell. Sometimes people will just respond to your salesmanship, to
how you treat them (if better than they get treated elsewhere they
can buy the comparables), to your guarantee, etc. But they are not
going to pay a whole lot more for your item if something similar is
available for less elsewhere.

Fortunately, if jewelry is made in a sweatshop in China or Bali or
wherever, and labor cost there is low, someone down the chain is
usually greedy and boosts the price to make an exorbitant profit,
thus charging closer to your price. However, I think you neglect the
price point and the comparables at your peril. If you are making
really impressive one of a kind jewelry and/or costly items which few
make, you may be in a different league, because there are few true
comparables and you may have clients who are your patrons and buy
just from you.

Don't you mean "on approval"? 

Nope, but it basically means the same thing :wink: CIA


Hi very good point Roy

If you are making really impressive one of a kind jewelry and/or
costly items which few make, you may be in a different league,
because there are few true comparables and you may have clients who
are your patrons and buy just from you. 

I make simple sterling rings with bezel set stones, cabs and faceted
hollow backed. The comparables have ring shanks 2 mm or less wide and
1 mm thick half round. They will bend out of shape or if cast snap

My ring shanks are 4 mm wide and 2 mm thick, I like to use an oval
comfort fit profile, even more unique.

The width of my ring shanks shows the polished quality of sterling
very well and is extremely hard to deform.

Puts me ahead of the comparables. The customers can see very quickly
that my rings are far better than the comparable rings from Asia.

Had a lady want me to size up a ring she bought that was supposed to
have been cast in Australia but was hand made in India. Spend decades
looking at jewellery and you can very quickly tell where it is from.
Shank a bit over half a mm. I said no sorry. " But why you are a
Silversmith?" Yes I am and experience has taught me that a lot of
jewellery from India is not\ sterling and this shank is too thin to
be worth doing because it will only break in the near future. If you
had bought a ring from me it would have a lifetime guarantee and be
of the highest quality and guaranteed Sterling. Also half the price
for that stone and my garnet would have been better quality. And it
would have fitted.

If the ring had been of good quality I would have sized it up for
the lady. For a good price.

She was very upset and took the ring back, told the guy it could not
be resized like he said it could and got a refund.

I made her a beautiful rhodolite cab, not cheap and nasty, badly cut,
almandine garnet like the Indian ring for the same price. She is now
a regular customer.

Mister “cast in Australia” really hates me now and I am just getting
started on him. By the time I finish with this con artist he will be
broke or in gaol or both. My friends who are silversmiths and I are
making a very big effort to support quality regardless of where it
is made and promote Australian made foremost. I have a friend who has
a workshop in Nepal, a family of old time jewellers, quality is great
designs are good too, I refer people to him for jewellery I do not
make or stones I do not use. He does the same for me. Quality
traders get on well, we play design wars, best design sells and we
never copy each other. And we sure give the crp artists sht.

Quality is quality and crap is crp and never the twain shall meet.



Hello again Charles,

Don’t you mean “on approval”?

Nope, but it basically means the same thing ;-)

The use of words being one of my own most enjoyable and important
areas of craftsmanship, I like to see it done well. Consequently i
am sometimes moved to quibble over proper usage, much as I hate to
appear like a nit-picker.

II think we understanding the process of ordering goods “on
approval”, the reasons for it etc, but I (and apparently someone
else as well) wrote to quibble over your assertion that the term
"apro" is a shortened form of “apropos”. “Apropos” is not at all the
"same thing" as the word “approval.” They are just two different
words with quite different meanings. If parties to a transaction
understand the process then you might say they can use any danged
word they want, no matter what it means in the dictionary or in
common usage, as long as they personally agree on the terms of the
transaction. That’d be like the queen in Alice in Wonderland who
said that any word she used meant what she intended it to mean. But
really, the two words are so different that it makes no sense to say
"apro" mean s"apropos". This is just my personal bugaboo, my tiny
attempt to hold onto a little linguistic integrity - not any quarrel
over your understanding of business practices.

Cheers :slight_smile:


Don’t you mean “on approval”?

Nope, but it basically means the same thing ;-)

OK, but not in any dictionary I can find. Apropos generally means
either “with reference to” or “appropriate”, where goods “on
approval” is a standard business term.

Al Balmer

...where goods "on approval" is a standard business term. 

Is that the same as “on memo”?

Paf Dvorak


Hi re-wrote my hand out to remove negative comments.

australian made
sterling silver
quality you can trust

Still can’t post the fineness mark, but it is 925 in an oval
Australia is renowned for quality hand made sterling silver
jewellery. In 2008 to identify Australian made jewellery a unique
fineness mark was introduced for Australia.

Standards Australia with The Australian Jewellery and Gemstone
Industry Council (AJGIC) introduced this standard. AJGIC includes:

The Jewellers Association of Aust
The Gemmological Association of Aust
The Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Aust
The National Council of Jewellery Valuers and
The Diamond Guild.

For your guarantee of quality look for the Australian fineness mark.
Buy Australian made Sterling Silver. Your money will be well spent.
Richard Hopkins Silversmith.

I took out the negative comments because if people think Tiffany has
a factory in China and think badly made low grade alloy silver is
sterling even though it looks nothing like sterling then not much I
can do about it. They will learn from experience. But if I can get
people looking for the Australian fineness mark when buying I have
done something.

Personally I would like to see all imported jewellery assayed and if
it does not assay to fineness stated destroyed. If XRF’d it would be
a quick process and usually accurate and make the government money
and protect the trade. Like that will ever happen.

Our government does nothing to protect even our children. There are
10,000 homeless children sleeping rough tonight.

Yet Australia donates millions in foreign aid, while are own
children are homeless and hungry and abused on the streets.

I work with children who are frequently homeless their anger is
incredible and so is their gratitude when given a free breakfast.

The only decent meal they get often. That is why they don’t want
school holidays we are often all they have.

Tomorrow the jewellery class starts making gem set rings, bangles
and soldering jumprings on chains. They make 2 pieces of jewellery
and keep one, they usually give it away to a friend or relative. Wow
are they impressed that the kids actually do this.

The boys are just plain dumb, they chase girls, of course they are
hormone driven teenagers but don’t have the brains to say. “Darling
I made this for you.” Women like jewellery and if a guy has made it
for them then he will suddenly become very attractive to the lady.

Like the saying “If a man says something and there is no woman there
to correct him, is he still wrong?” Never had a lady say no. A bit
like if you don’t do it right the first time do it the way your wife
told you.

Although I work in gold as well as silver I promote my self as a
silversmith, very rare these days and lots of people like silver.
And I prefer to work in silver there is just something about it that
attracts me.


This is just my personal bugaboo, my tinyattempt to hold onto a
little linguistic integrity - not any quarrel over your
understanding of business practices. 

We all have our own bagaboo’s, the list would be very vanilla if we
didn’t :wink: CIA