Pricing necklace designed and strung

Hello to everyone,

I hope this question comes through, it is a bit difficult to put
into a couple of sentences…here goes.

A gallery I do their stringing repair work for has a customer who
would like a necklace designed and strung. The owner of the gallery
and the customer decided what the necklace will consist of but not
how it will be strung. Here is where I come in.

I ordered the beads, findings etc. on my account to make the
necklace.(wholesale of course)

Designed the piece and strung it.

I have some beads and findings left over that I am going to give the
customer, after all she is paying for them.

Say that…
1.The beads cost me $30.00 (wholesale)
2. Findings cost me $15.00 (wholesale)
3. My time in designing and stringing

Should the invoice to the gallery owner read:

  1. Beads used $60.00
  2. Finding used $30.00
  3. Designing and stringing necklace $15.00

Another words, it is as if the gallery’s customer is buying the
materials used in creating her necklace from me at keystone price
and I am breaking out the stringing portion so that the gallery
owner can mark it up as she wishes?

I apologize if this is very confusing but I did not know how to word
it properly.

Thank you for any advice on this one,

Another words, it is as if the gallery's customer is buying the
materials used in creating her necklace from me at keystone price
and I am breaking out the stringing portion so that the gallery
owner can mark it up as she wishes? 

Chances are that the gallery is going to make money on not only the
labor in the necklace, but your components as well. Seems as though
you are showing your hand by breaking your pricing down for
them…just charge them the $105 and let them do what they will with
it. This way, they won’t be expecting you to design/string everything
for $15. And keep the extra beads and findings, as the customer and
gallery have no idea what they cost you (unless you’ve revealed the
cost to them). Consider it part of your profit.

Matthew Crawford

I’m not sure how galleries work, but it sounds like the customer and
gallery owner conversation maybe went something like this:

Customer: I would like a necklace that looks something like this.
Maybe this color (or) made from such and such.

Gallery Owner: We can certainly do that for you.

Gallery Owner (to you): I need you to design a necklace with these
parameters (color, types of materials - essentially not too

You: Great. Will do.

My point is if there were no specifics on exactly what materials and
how much materials and no specific limit on cost, then I see no need
to spell out the separate costs; just a total cost to the gallery
owner (a wholesale or consignment cost) and the gallery owner then
marks it up. I have followed a formula of cost times 4 (one time for
cost, one time for duplication, one time for artist time, and one
time for profit) which has so far served me well for lower priced and
middle market items.

If there was a specific amount or material requested, spell those
items out on the invoice so it’s clear you followed instructions,
then the last figure should be for artist time and profit put

If anyone thinks I’m nuts, let me know. I won’t take offence. I’m
fairly new at the money part and, like I said I have no experience
with galleries.

I hope this is helpful.


I thought your question was pretty clear.

Your pricing seems ok, though your payment for your time seems very
low. How long did it take? Don’t forget to include the time on the
phone, delivery, shipping, etc… It seems to me that you should be
charging at least $30 per hour, which, after covering overhead, would
probably pay you 15-20 per hour.

I think you should keep the extra beads. That is one of the perks of
the job. You can put them to use, but the customer has no use for

Cynthia Eid

I never break it down by materials, especially if the store or
gallery owner already knows the cost of materials (and they should,
or they wouldn’t be in the trade). Once cost has been figured, I’ll
notify the buyer (in this case, the gallery owner) of the estimate
(for me, it is an estimate until the components are purchased, since
metals are constantly changing), and get a “go-ahead” (and payment
for materials, if possible), on the project. Once the project is
completed, the invoice has a description of the finished product, and
the store or gallery owner’s cost. For example:

  1. 18" faceted aquamarine, citrine, blue topaz and peridot bead
    necklace with sterling silver toggle clasp. $105.00.

That’s all the gallery owner needs for their books. If the end buyer
wants a breakdown of their own costs, the gallery owner can provide
them a retail list if they want. Since you bought the materials, the
gallery owner has no need for that breakdown, only what they laid out
to you for the finished product.

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL

Hi Laurie:

On the issue of pricing, I would treat this as any other "custom"
piece. The invoice would state the materials used (generally speaking
but not down to ‘5 gold-filled headpins’ or something really specific
like that) and the total wholesale price. This invoice would then
only be known to the gallery owner. I don’t know of any situation
where the customer has had that much about the mark-up. I
apologize if I am misunderstanding what you are saying about the way
you are invoicing.

On the issue of left-over materials (and this is why I need lots of
storage), I don’t pass them on to the customer because they usually
don’t have anything they can do with them. I figure price per
part/bead and multiply by the number of parts/beads used. I then have
my wholesale price for parts. I add in my labor times number of hours
and I have my wholesale price.

I have never heard of someone breaking out labor and parts on their
invoice to the gallery, but my first instinct is to not to do it. I
feel it gives the gallery owner too much With this info,
he/she might have a tendency to say something like “well, I don’t
understand why you have to be paid 20/hr when the going rate for
other artists seems to be 15/hour”. I don’t like to dicker like that
so I keep my labor charge to myself. Is this acceptable? If anyone
has anything to add to this, I would appreciate it.

Best Regards
Kim Starbard

hi laurie,

i think you are probably selling yourself short.

the materials costs sound fine, doubling the expense is no problem.
in addition, i would keep the extra beads and findings. when i make
a custom piece, i certainly do not give the customer back any metal
filings or scrap! (just as an example) :slight_smile:

however, i am concerned about your labor fee. how long did it take
you to make the necklace? including time spent ordering materials
and designing? $15 sounds cheap to me, as though you are
undervaluing your time. what do you charge per hour? what do you
think you deserve according to your abilities? even if all that
work took you one hour, $15/hr seems cheap to me.

i would invoice the gallery with one price, do not break it down.
something like "custom (whatever kind of bead) necklace: 180.00
(or whatever you decide to charge). your final charge should be
exactly what you would charge at retail for the necklace, and no

we often undervalue ourselves and our work, and i think that is a
big mistake. people who want custom or handmade work are willing to
pay for it, as they should, and they should pay full price!


For a wholesale pricing to the gallery, that looks about right but I
would keep the few extra beads. If the customer receives them, they
usually feel like they were shortchanged because you should have used
ALL the beads. Do yourself a favor. YOU keep them.

When I string special orders, the customer knows that if I use 1.5
strands or less, I charge 1.5 strand price. If I use 1.9 strands, I
charge 2 strands as there is always a bead or two that is not perfect
and can not be used. Besides, the customer may decide she wants
earrings to go with the necklace. Use the extra beads to make
something similar - doesn’t need to be exact - and go for an add on
sale. Figure cost of materials x2 plus $10 labor for the wholesale
price. Doesn’t matter that they may be the extra beads, go for the
full price. Let the gallery know you bought extra beads to make sure
the best went into the order. The customer will most likely spring
for the earrings as well. Mark down your pattern also in case she
wishes a matching bracelet!

Judy Shaw, GJG (GIA)

I agree Kim don’t break your invoice down like that too much info to
gallery owner. Keep extras as I never have had a perfect strand of
anything lol

Price what you used tell the gallery owner Retail Value of the
materials. I certainly don’t want them to know I get faceted stones
sometimes for.25 a carat…I am not sure why the gallery owner needs
more than a description of the piece ie carats stones metals and your
labor charge

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry

it is as if the gallery's customer is buying the materials used in
creating her necklace from me at keystone price and I am breaking
out the stringing portion so that the gallery owner can mark it up
as she wishes? 

Too much info in my opinion Laurie. Give the gallery the total only.
Believe me, they will still mark it up as they wish. If they want to
know the price of stringing alone, they will ask. Giving any buyer
precise on your markups puts you in the position of
having to justify your costs in the future, possibly leaving you no
room for overhead and unseen shop costs that may arise. I don’t see
that included in your pricing as you have presented it, but you may
want to include it in your future pricing.

Think of an auto manufacturer giving you an exact breakdown of their
cost on each part, and then having to justify to you why the dang car
is going to cost you so much more than what they paid for parts. One
facet of purchasing is perceived value. Also remember that the
gallery is not your friend, no matter how friendly you are with the
owner. Friendship should always be separate from any business
transaction. Always protect yourself first.

Lisa, (Visited Trevor and his nice wife Natasha at their cute
apartment here in Paris…France, not Texas. Treveor generously
took time out of his day to show me his place. Boy, does Trevor have
some cool tools and a nifty studio set up! One of his cats loved
me…at least she loved my feet and my shoes. The other
cat…weeeeellll Lets just say that French cats all seem to have a
definite opinion…I think it was one of those Anglo-Franco
things…lol) Soon to be back in Topanga, CA USA