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Selling designs


I’ve got a few questions concerning how to sell jewelry designs
to companies for serial production:

  1. How do you calculate the price for a certain design? Does it
    depend on how much pieces will be produced of a special item? I
    mean - will I get paid a certain percentage of the retail price
    of each piece that is produced or will I get one sum from the
    company irrespective on how many pieces of my design they will

  2. Are there any guidelines, “dos and don’ts” in dealing with
    companies interested in buying designs? Maybe a sample contract?

Thanks in advance,

sabinea’s virtual gallery
metal design, jewelry & silverwork

Hello i was wondering if anybody knew how to go about selling
designs and what is a good price to start them at.


Hi can anyone help me? I have been approached by a large retailer
who are interested in possibly buying some of my designs this may
also lead to me doing some new design work for them. Whilst I am
excited by the prospect of working with a large organisation I am
also quite nervous as I have never done anything like this before. I
am a small independent maker and usually only make a few pieces of
one design and one off pieces. Before the lamb goes to the slaughter
at a meeting scheduled in April can anymore offer any advice,
possible pitfalls, problems? Also how much should I expect to get for
a design? It would be nice to have some ideas before the meeting so
any help would be very greatly appreciated.


I would make sure you have a business lawyer to look over any
contracts and agreements. Also I would do some internet research to
see if you can find out any complaints or problems other people have
complained about (amazing what you can find these days). Some large
organizations can be the worst about paying or have other
issues…others can be fine to work with.

Mrs. Terry Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts, LLC

Chris, I can’t help you much, but I sure will be interested to hear
how this works out for you. Please keep us posted! I’m curious how
they found your work and how they contacted you. If it were me, I
would want a substantial one time payment or a smaller payment
accompanied by a percentage of all future sales. I’d imagine they
acquire designs as a regular part of their business and so they will
have what they consider a standard offer that they will make to you,
surely it will be less than you would like. That will be the
starting point. I would want to consult with an attorney who is
experienced in such matters. Also, there must be other well known
designers who sell designs, it would be great to talk to couple of
them to see what they say about the selling process. I’m thinking of
the lady who made the Mother and Child pendant that you see
everywhere… Please keep us posted.


Hi, Chris, I’ve worked with a number of manufacturers in the past
with good luck, only been screwed once. I’d say the most important
thing to do is to pay attention to the contract that you work out
with them. Know your own copyright rights first, review some sample
contracts and probably get in touch with a lawyer for the arts (they
have free legal services for artists in some states). Just do your
homework before the meeting, know exactly which copyright rights
you’re willing to sell them and be as clear as possible about what
you want to get out of this and them in return for selling your
designs. I will typically do a small trial, limited work contract
with a new manufacturer first to test out the relationship before
making any large commitments.

Lisa Van Herik

Wow Chris…go for it! Farm out the grunt-work to those who
specialize in the grunt-work. You are the architect you can make it


One thing I MUST insist you do is at the begining of the meeting
introduce a non-compete and non-disclosure contract that they should
be willing to sign if they are legitimately interested in working
with you. As for rates, it involves math- their projected sales,
costs and your willingness or not to conform to what they ask of
you…If you will not alter your designs, great- they must be clear in
what they need…( ie.e, clasps, weight of x chain included with a
piece, etc.) and then there are the pieces that may include stones,;
you’ll probably want to use your suppliers as you are probably
satisfied with the quality and colour range you are getting so
contracts with third parties may be necessary- the client ( the
retailer wanting your designs) may need to undewrite your net 30
purchasing, or give you an outright budget( a more easy for you
situation) to develop pieces for x collection you will present. Then
there is the issue of rights to the design- you should retain them,
and they should license them from you- it is the way you’ll make
money on repeat production of the lines and not loose money on lines
they specify but you question the ability to move that item, or
items at their price point. there are many, many things to consider
when going in to negotiate wht is essentially a “director of
jewellery lines” design and development position…You want as much
control as can be negotiated- if it’s a colour gold at a certain
weight, over their perhaps, cheaping out in say, looking at buying
wholesale chains- you should assesss the individual piece(s) and have
the authority written into the contract, to have the final design
calls with their agreement to financially backing the cost of
everything from casting to stone procurement and up and down the
supply and delivery chain when it comes to jewellery products that
you create, or are comissioned to create for them… Don’t go in
flattered and willing to cao-tao to what some executive looking
titled person in their organization throws out to you…If I’m reading
it right, they approached you- so your aesthetic must be right on
target with their market or buyer’s trends…Arrange your thoughts on
paper (presentation style if that’s how your brain works) so nothing
is overlooked and that the things that are - you feel-, pushing your
control out of the way for their buyer’s preference(s), are
considered before you walk in…try and think of every scenario in
which you may agree with what they are offering, and also the
situations that you may not agree with their way of doing, or
timelines, material choices, vendors, etc…You want the final word in
creating new lines, new designs, market shares, and price point
control.You may not have all the experience you think you should
have, but you actually fabricate jewellery- they just buy and sell
it…so in that vein, your knowledge is superior to a buyer’s- no
matter how long that person has been at it. You should, equally, be
up on all the current that steers the industry from a
grasp of metals trends, and availability of any conceivable findings,
stones, places where it is most cost effeicient and quality standards
match yours in getting lines, pieces or parts produced and turn
around at the best prices.Which means, if you don’t already know it,
doing the appropriate research to go in to your meeting and present
them with design and production and supply and delivery strategies
and quality standards that represent your sensibilities as sold in
their stores… If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer
them- allowing at least 24 hours for us to either chat live or my
responses to really detailed questions…Best wishes,r.e.r.