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Selling limited and one of a kind items


I am currently putting together a selling website. I tend to work
with stones and beads that are slightly free form in shape.
Generally, each bead in a necklace or each cab in a ring would be a
bit different than all the others. Unusual cabs are generally one of
a kind by nature and beads are really hit or miss. Local people who I
sell to tend to like this (everyone’s bracelet is unique), but I’m
wondering how customers will respond on the website.

My thinking is that I can put an explanation for people to read on
the site. Some items are one of a kind. Some items will always be
slightly different than what is pictured…that kind of thing. I’m
also thinking that the sequence would be…1. customer places the
order 2. I make it 3. customer is emailed a picture of final product
with a link to invoice page on the site where they proceed to pay 4.
payment constitutes acceptance of final product (this way, customer
cannot receive the item in the mail and claim that this is not what
they ordered)

Can I have feedback on this if anyone has thoughts? One of my
weaknesses is that I tend to cover too many bases and wind up with no
extra time to make jewelry :slight_smile:

Kim Starbard

Ack! My first suggestion would be to change the way you design in
order to make selling via website easier.

I doubt you’ll like that solution, so I’ll try again.

Just shoot each piece as you make it and put it up on the site. You
can have a “gallery” of things to look at to get an idea for your
style, things that are already sold. Then as you finish each piece,
just add it and add a click to buy button. When it’s sold, delete it,
or move it to the gallery.

That’s a lot of extra work of course, so hopefully you’re doing your
own website updating.

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Hi Kim,

Selling on the web is different than selling in person. It works best
for me to get at least a 50% deposit before I commit to make a

And it would probably be a good idea to get a deposit before you
invest a lot of time in coming up with a design, although I don’t
usually do that.

I think people feel rather anonymous when emailing or calling about
ordering something and aren’t really serious about actually buying -
I like to email back and forth a couple of times to develop a
feeling of relationship so they will be committed to going through
with the commission. I’ve found its also a good idea to discuss price
early on, so they wont be surprised when you get to the final design.

Your idea of sending them a picture of the final product is a good

Actually, it all boils down to what works for you.

Having a “selling” website is really fun. It still gives me a feeling
of awe to hear from people all over the country and a few and the
world for that matter - this internet stuff is miraculous to an old
coot like me.



One of my weaknesses is that I tend to cover too many bases and wind
up with no extra time to make jewelry :slight_smile:

Kim, I have the same tendency! So take my advice with a grain of

I just launched my website as I just announced on Orchid and I may or
may not have covered this issue adequately on the site. My decision
is to make pieces one at a time and offer them as stock items, and
also offer custom orders. Customers’ incentive to buy stock items is
that they are exactly as pictured and they don’t have to wait as long
for their order.


Hello Kimberly,

I understand your pain. :wink: Basically, ALL of my items are one of a
kind. I might make something again in the future, but I don’t usually
plan that when I make the first one. I do have a website, and I have
everything on there. I try hard to keep it up-to-date with what’s
available & what’s sold. If someone wants to order something, they
contact me, and I reply to them to confirm that it’s available, ask
how they want to pay, get shipping info, etc. I used to have an order
form, but no one ever used it, so I don’t even bother with one
anymore. Everyone always just contacted me, anyway, to say for
example, “I would like item 2040305, is it still available?”, and it
would go from there. Now, if someone wants something custom, then
they will contact me to say they are wanting an XYZ, with varying
levels of detail, and it will go from there. We go back & forth a
bit, getting from them to the point where I think I can
offer them ideas & prices, then I create images as best as I can
that I put up on a webpage for them (I’m not very good at rendering
designs yet, so I use a combo of computer images, hand drawn images,
and good descriptions), and eventually we come to an agreement on
the design & its price. For custom orders, I ask for 50% up front, so
I know they’re serious. I will often take pictures along the way and
post them to their page, they usually find it fun & interesting to
see how the piece s made. Once it’s done, I take a picture & post
that. They e-mail me to say it looks great & then I send them a
payment request to pay the rest. Once they do, it’s off in the mail
to them! Fortunately, I’ve never had any trouble with this setup, and
I’ve done lots of custom work, often remotely. I like, too, to have
that e-mail trail of them agreeing to things. Regarding receipts, I
have a program that creates one out of my database, and I e-mail them
both a “confirmation” version when we decide on the design, and they
pay the 50%, and then a “final receipt” version when it’s done. The
paper copy is in their package when it’s sent out.

I think people like unique whether they are local or not. So long as
on the website you give clear pictures, good interesting
details about how it’s made or where the stones came from, etc, they
will enjoy getting something that’s unique and hand made. I can’t
imagine someone would be more likely to buy something that’s
production than unique, just because it’s the web. If they’re
comfortable with buying on the web, and your site puts forth an image
of professionalism and trust, then that shouldn’t be a worry.

I hope my little scenario descriptions help a bit. Good luck with
the website!

Designs by Lisa Gallagher


Customers' incentive to buy stock items is that they are exactly as
pictured and they don't have to wait as long for their order. 

Thanks everybody for the on web-selling. The company I
am using to set up my site has a really user friendly system, so it’s
super easy for me to upload pictures as I make items. However, I do
have to learn to take a little more risk. The idea of making more
than one of each item is really good. Some sites have a little box
below each item that tells the customer how many are in stock. This
might work well too.

It’s all new to me, so I will take it as it comes. How long would
you say an acceptable lead time would be on a custom order? Case by

I have seen small furniture companies put something on their sites
an explanation of long lead times. It is not unusual for a customer
to wait as long as 6 months for a custom made piece of furniture. I’m
not in any way saying that I will take 6 months, but I can see that I
will have a problem keeping up with demand at times (especially in
the summer when my kids are not in school)

Thanks again for the tips

Kim Starbard

Here’s an idea I got from a painting / collage instructor - she said
she ofttimes would start 2 paintings at the same time - one for real
and one for play. She almost invariable found the ‘play’ version to
be the more to her liking.

So I do that with my jewelry sometimes too. I don’t really think of
them as them play/real, but kind of… I’ll cut out 2 of the same
foundation pieces and/or whatever else and then go to work. Its
amazing how differently the pieces turn out!