Return policy?

I am new at selling my jewelry through galleries and wonder what
other folks do about returned goods. I put several one-of-a-kind
pieces with a gallery on consignment (60/40) and signed a contract
with the gallery owner. The contract didn’t mention a policy for
returns and I being new at this, never thought to ask. Someone
purchased one of my necklaces for $515.00 and the gallery owner paid
me $309 as my 60% of the consignment agreement. A month or so later
the person brought the necklace back to the gallery and said the
person for whom the necklace was a gift didn’t like it. She was
given a full refund and the gallery notified me later that I owed
them the $309 they had paid me. I would greatly appreciate feedback
on what to do since that money has been spent long ago.


This is an unfortunate situation but it does come up. In my
experience with consignment in retail galleries there is usually a
return policy of 30 days. Most artists are paid once a month, often up
to a month after the items are purchased to cover the 30 day window of
return. If an item is sold and returned after the artist has been
paid, the money usually comes out of future consignment checks. I have
never heard of a gallery asking an artist to pay cash back for
returned work. This is an important issue to discuss before consigning
work anywhere, and I’m sure policies differ greatly from store to

Amy O’Connell
Amy O’Connell Jewelry

Susanne: Unless you have an ironclad understanding in witing that all
sales are final! You have to make good on the money by either giving
the store the money or possibly trade some merchandise that would
make up the amount. most owners will work with you given the chance and
you act promptly! Remember that your future sales depend on honesty
and concern for every customer. I too have been caught by surprise by
returns, usually when I could least afford it. The trade usually
works. Try it quickly and you might be surprised at how well it will
save a good customer.

Keep good thoughts, always!
                       Richard Blahnik
                       Lufkin, tx.
                       Deep East Texas

I have only had two pieces returned to one of the galleries which
has my work. the gallery did not ask me to refund what they had
paid me, but put the pieces back in stock as their own, so that when
they were resold (and both were), the gallery kept the money. They
explained that this method simplified their bookkeeping. they merely
listed returned items as “gallery owned,” Alma

Most contracts with galleries usually talk about return policies but
if you are sure this one didn’t, then you may be able to tell them it
is their tough luck and now they own the piece. On the other hand if
you want to keep doing business with the gallery, it might be wiser to
return the money or ask them to credit it off of a future sale.
Legally speaking, you would probably have to check with the state
attorney general’s office, in the state the gallery is located in, to
find out if there are any laws regarding this subject.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Susanne, When starting a consigned exhibition with a new venue it is
advisable to inquire if they have a return policy, and what the terms
and conditions are. At least this allows for a discussion, and then
you can determine if their policy is appropriate for your particular
situation. If their standard procedure isn’t what you feel will best
suit your needs, advise them of what you would find preferable. It
may be difficult for the Gallery to have differing agreements with
various artists, as their clientele are probably anticipating a
single store policy covering all returns, but it never hurts to ask.

Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist @Michael_Sturlin

Michael Sturlin Studio, Scottsdale Arizona USA


With over 25 years of dealing with galleries, I have seen just about
everything. Some stores, like Nordstroms, will accept a return even
after several years of wear with no questions asked. In my gallery,
I will accept returns only within 30 days, so I will wait thirty days
before sending out a consignment check. But…I will bend my rule if
I feel it is appropriate for that customer in that situation.

Many of the galleries that I have worked with over the years have had
work returned. There are also as many return policies as there are
galleries…but just because it is the store’s policy, that doesn’t
mean that it is also your policy by default.

If you don’t have a clear policy in your consignment agreement, then
everything is open to negotiation. I have found that the better
galleries and stores do not expect the artists to live by the store’s
policies, and simply place the returned item back in their stock. If
it is a major piece, however, they may be more reluctant. And I don’t
blame them. I do not like it when a store expects me to accept a
return for a small or custom item, particularly after a month or more
has passed. I do not like to see obvious wear on a returned piece of
jewelry either. I will look at each situation individually and ask
myself this question: Is this a reasonable request, or am I being
taken advantage of?

If I don’t agree with the request, I can, of course, refuse to honor
the return. If it is somewhat reasonable, I can offer an exchange or
credit. I have to consider the long term relationship.

Sometimes, I have had to bend a little. Most of the time, this was
rewarded with a better relationship with wonderful gallery owners
that continued for years. Sometimes, I got screwed. So it goes…

My suggestion is to treat each situation as unique, and don’t set
unbreakable rules. Trust your intuition…

Doug Zaruba