Purchasing scales

Hi Everyone- I am thinking of purchasing a scale to weigh my silver
to help me figure out the cost of a piece. 1) Is this a good idea and
2)any suggestions on which scale? I have been looking thru Rio
Grande, and it seems as though an electronic scale can be purchased
for about $85. I don’t usually buy the cheapest choice, usually buy
mid-range, so I am wondering if anybody else is using this type of
scale. I am also looking for feedback on how folks figure the cost of
silver used in a piece. I have tried marking everything (20 cents and
inch, 10 cents apiece, etc) but am thinking of just weighing the
materials, or perhaps the finished piece. Any comments, and thanks
very much. Cherie@ Flying Bird Studio,Where leaves are just starting
to turn glorious colors.

Cherie, Unless you are doing contract casting or job shop work,
trying to price your pieces by weight isn’t a great Idea in my humble
opinion, If you are doing fabrication work then the Silver is the
least important factor in your price to a customer, Even at
wholesale. Keep in mind that off shore, work can be bought for 35 to
45 cents a gram, stones included. If your work is one of a kind or
even limited production you have to figure out how much you want to
make per hour, then figure out your shop costs even if it’s at home
you are using space, it has to be worth something, also figure out
how many pieces like that or similar to that in a day. Then you can
get a better idea of what you can make per hour for a wage, Even if
you are doing this a hobby your supplies and other materials like the
consumables cost money . as an Idea I used to cast and finish 150 to
300 ounces of silver per week for a customer, at that time sterling
casting grain was around 4.50 per OZ we were charging .65 cents a
gram, these were all in Conchos and Belt Buckles very little stone
setting involved but all of the pieces had to be polished and
wrapped, after all expenses were subtracted I made 8-1/2 cents per
gram. The silver was costing .145 to .16 cents per Gram; we actually
lost the contract to a cheaper contractor. Now there are master metal
smiths in Asia that work hard for 4.00 to 15.00 dollars per day and
do some beautiful work their silver can be bought at .38 per gram in
modest quantities. So don’t try and compete by selling by weight.
When I was last doing contract fabrication on a regular basis I
figured my bench time at 22.50 per hour and added the cost of the
silver at an average of 10.00 per OZ which covered the shipping
charges from my suppliers. Now if I could have figured a way to
actually keep 22.50 an hour I’d be a happy camper…And remember too
that much of a products value can be determined by where it’s
presented, it’s hard to get New York City prices in Manhattan Kansas.

Hi Cheryl,

Took me a while to come up with my best way of managing this issue.
I do, indeed, weigh my metal as the measure of cost. I use a
standard $10 used pennyweight scale (I don’t really have need of a
fancier carat-capable one).

To track it, I’m fairly low-tech - use an Excel spread sheet. When
I buy something, I put it in the spreadsheet, with the description,
amount, total weight (in pennyweight), price. I have a field that
calculates the price per pennyweight from that info, and then another
that auto-calcs the price to the customer per pennyweight for the
material. When I use 3 DWT of it, I subtract 3 from the “amount on
hand” column. So I’ve got a running rough inventory and a costing

Because different materials have different costs per pennyweight, I
just weigh each material before using it and jot it on a project
notecard I keep at the bench. Takes no time and later I just take the
notecard to the computer and make the entries and calculations.

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller
Handcrafted and Unique Artisan Jewelry

Cherie to figure out the cost of a piece by its weight.

CAL-Q-SCALE Model 7020 Tanita is the right Scale for your Task. It
calculates for you so you do not have to use a seperate calculator.

Capacity is 100 grams. Accuracy is 0.1gm (Good for Gold & Silver it
weighs in Grams & Pennyweights.)

It Displays the weight & the cost or selling price of the piece

You begin by inputing the price on its key Pad. It displays the
price immediately. You can have 10 different prices in its memory.
It works just like the Cold Cut Scale at the Deli Counter.

It can also be used as a Carat Scale Input 5 as the price it shows
the grams wieight & the carat weight. (One decimle gram only )

Price is $135.00 shippping is $4.00.

Kenneth Singh

Weight is always an option. The woman who was over from Germany to
visit and give us a pearl stringing workshop prices that way. She
deals mostly in 18K gold and Palladium (one of the Platinum class
metals) so this makes sense. As others will tell you, due to silver
being more affordable the Sterling Silver by weight gauge may not do
yourself justice. As far as a scale goes you just need to the tenth
place for most things as far as accuracy. I would weight your metal
before cutting, be efficient, and simply add the scraps to the cost.
If you get into reclamation (sending your scraps/fillings to the
refinery) then this will be reclaimed money. The corner of a piece
of sheet after you cut it is not immediately available in your stores
to work on hence the cost should be passed on.

Here’s a project that handled production run and cost analysis, it
takes many factors into consideration and allows you to know the real
value, if you have any questions feels free to ask. It takes into
consideration a $10CND hourly wage and a $0.31CND per gram cost of
sterling silver. Right now we are paying 36 cents canadian for
instance, and a higher hourly wage may be desirable for you, play
with the figures as you see fit:




3 pair of earrings
5 bangles
5 pendants
5 rings

Each item should not cost more than $40.00 retail. Keep a record of
your time and materials.

cutting 10 minutes 
forming 10 minutes 
soldering 15 minutes 
forming 5 minutes 
filing 20 minutes 
emery 10 minutes 
polishing 20 minutes 
textures 20 minutes 
polishing 10 minutes

2 hours X 10.00 = $20.00
grams S/S = 16 x $.31 =	4.96

Sub-Total 1 = $24.96

Individual Piece Sub-Total
$24.96 divided by 5 (# of pieces) = $4.99

Add 10% overhead

Total Cost = $5.49

Wholesale Price (Add 33.33%)
Cost x 1.3333 = $7.32

Retail Price (Multiply Wholesale by a factor of 2)
$7.32 (Wholesale) X 2 = $14.64 (Retail Price)

Don't make any of them too complicated. Vary shape, size, design,
texture, etc. Practice cutting, filing, forming, soldering, emery,
polishing, etc....

For Next Week:
Read pages 114-118 of Oppi Untracht's Jewellery Concepts and

David Woolley
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada


Hi , My advice on "first " scale would be to buy a triple beam
balance scale [ like an OHAUS ] , while not as “cool” as an
electronic one they are much more rugged and with the accesory
weights you can weigh up to 2.6 kilo’s at 1/10 gr accuracy . I am
still using one to weigh investment and larger quantities of
precious metals for over 25 years now … Mark Clodius

Hello Orchidians, Just a quick comment on scales. I use mine the
very most during the dreaded and hated inventory time!! That scale
(plus some elementary math and a calculator) allows me to "count"
hundreds of beads quickly. Having the “zero” feature is very
critical here so that the bead container is not included in the
total weight. That said, if I could buy the scales again, I’d get a
larger platform and a higher range on weight. Some heavy gauge
sheets weigh more than 100 grams. At any rate, LOVE those scales.
Judy in Kansas, where I just finished a 2-day show in the local city
park. I was surprised and pleased with the final outcome.

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944

    Hi , My advice on "first " scale would be to buy a triple beam
balance scale ...  

Hi Mark, and others:

I agree, and that’s what I still use to weigh waxes for casting,
metal and alloys, etc. These are actually very accurate if you
“zero” them out on a level surface. As for weighing I
still use the inexpensive scales with the two pans and the individual
metal weights. Also very accurate if you zero them out. By zero
out, I mean, adjust them so that with nothing on the pan(s) the
pointer reads in the middle of the scale. One of these days, I’ll
break down and buy a digital, but hey, if it works? I’ve been using
these instruments since before digital scales existed (actually,
before digital anything). Yep, I’m a geezer. I do, however, us a
digital metric micrometer to measure stones and burs when I need
extreme precision. Those are now relatively inexpensive, but the old
scissors type gauge sits on my bench and is in constant use.

David L. Huffman

       My advice on "first " scale would be to buy a triple beam
balance scale [ like an OHAUS ] , while not as "cool"  as an
electronic one they are much more rugged and with the accesory
weights you can weigh up to 2.6 kilo's at  1/10 gr accuracy 

I would second this advice. I have a triple beam balance (one with
the dial scale for grams) and have used it and abused it for 20
years. I have an electronic scale for weighing stones that weighs
grams and pennyweights as well as carats. I had a power surge that
blew out the read out board. $500 later it is fixed… I have never
spent a dime on my triple beam.So unless you need to weigh carats I
would start and stick with a good reliable triple beam. Preferably
one with the dial-o-gram feature. Frank Goss

Ohaus Triple Beam Scale. Accurate and rugged are available in two
basic model 710 and 750.

710-00 comes with a pan cost is $ 127.00
750-SO has a Platform cost is $ 99.00

These were an industry standard before the smaller & portable
battery scales came along.

Kenneth Singh