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Pricing your cabochons


Hello and it’s been great fun for those of us who aren’t in Tucson
right now to live vicariously through those of you who are! Thanks
for all of your reports back :slight_smile:

I was hoping that someone who cuts their own cabs might be able to
lend some advice on how to price them to sell. Up to now I’ve been
cutting stones pretty much for personal use in a hobbyist capacity
so when asked recently how much I’d charge to cut a cab(s) for
someone else’s use, I really wasn’t sure. Most of what I’m cutting
are some of the usual suspects, various jaspers, agates,
chalcedonies, nephrite, etc.

Help! Carol


Hi Carol!

Tucson is a madhouse! You should hear all the locals complain about
the traffic and long waits in favorite restaurants. I’m glad I live
out of town, to be sure (had a looooonnnng day at the shows
yesterday, and only shopped THREE of my favorite stone and rough

Anyway, re: your question - I make jewelry from jaspers, agates,
etc., and more unusual stones, and I also cut my own. BUT for most of
my jewelry I buy from people like Gerry Galarneau and Sweetwater and
some smaller cutters or even directly from mines.

While I can’t answer HOW you price, I can tell you that as a buyer
and someone who can cut, I look for really well-cut stones that have
the right bezel-friendly sides, and at a price that make it worth my
while. All the above folks fill that niche. Gerry, darn him, cuts so
perfectly, with amazing flawless finishes at pricing that is so
reasonable that I spend most of my funds on his stuff - I can’t come
CLOSE to cutting as well.

But to cut and sell like that, you need to have pretty high volume,
and you need help prepping for sales and selling at shows - Martie
helps Gerry a ton. It’s this great two-person operation that works
like crazy…

If you are smaller volume, then you need to have higher prices, and
that will preclude people like me from buying your stones if they are
common jaspers, agates, etc. However, if they are unusual stones
(like what I get from Sweetwater) then I’ll pay more because I can
sell them for more.

Does this help?

Let us know when you “go public”! I’m always looking for possible
new stuff!


I was hoping that someone who cuts their own cabs might be able to
lend some advice on how to price them to sell.

I start by tracking what I paid for the rough stone. Decide what
unit of measurement you are going to weigh your finished cabs and
allowance for waste.

For example Turquoise that sells for $250.00 a pound. Unit of
measurement is carat and 2265 carats to a pound. And 50% waste
allowance puts your finished cost at 22 cents a carat. Now that 22
cents does not allow for overhead, abrasives, wear and tear on your
equipment, and cost of labor. For turquoise I buy at $250 to $350 a
pound I price my cabochons at $1 to $2 dollars a carat or whatever
the traffic will bear for exceptional stones.

I don’t sell a lot of cabs so I use this model in figuring the cost
of my finished jewelry. You won’t be able to compete in the market
for calibrated cabs cut overseas and using machines. Cut cabs from
material that is unique and provide exceptional quality.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado



There are a number of things to consider when pricing
cabs…especially when cutting someone elses stones.

Via the internet, I constantly research current prices on the
market. It is amazing to watch the price of various cabs change
with the fads, bad production of rough, use of a new name to make a
stone more popular, etc, etc.

When pricing your own cabs, you can start with the price you paid
for it…whether per lb or per carat! Even then it can be pretty
uneven such as with opal which seems to have a price life of its
own. Remember when using the original price of the rough…you
will loose a lot of stone in the cutting. You must make allowances
for that since you have to look at it as ‘replacing’ the entire
piece…not just the resulting cab. You should also consider when
you purchased the rough. Bruneau jasper went for a few dollars a
pound a few years ago but it is so rare today that good material is
almost out of sight. Good palm wood and dino bone are similar,
etc, etc.

Next consider the wear and tear on your machines. If you cut
variscite there will be little wear but cut a piece of dense agate
and wear will be considerable. Replacement wheels are getting very
expensive so don’t be afraid to figure that in. The size of the
stone will certainly influence wheel wear also. Large stones require
a much longer smoothing effort than small ones so there is more wear
per stone.

A nicely rounded cab will polish quicker than a large flat - which
will require much more effort to get a good polish. That will take
longer than a simple medium dome cab too.

Much also depends on your skill. If you are a cutter with moderate
experience you probably will take longer to cut a stone than one who
has been cutting for years and does it all day long. Don’t charge
your customer for your inexperience…on the other hand, charge
them for your skill but at a rate equal to your experience.

Notice I have not given any dollar and cents values here because it
is almost impossible to do without knowing all the variables.
After considering all the above, however, and adding a reasonable
amount for your hourly effort, I would charge them for everything
but the cost of the stone!

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2