Does anyone sell one-of-a-kinds at wholesale 'order only' shows?
I don't do wholesale shows myself, but since I haven't noticed any
other responses to your questions... I do know several jewelers who
sell one-of-a-kind work at such shows, so here are some second-hand
answers to your questions.
Are you bringing a large inventory and the buyer buys the
piece that is there, and then you put their name on it and ship it
to them after the show?
Yes, for the most part, that's how they do it. One jeweler I know
brings 200-300 pieces to wholesale shows and that's what she sells.
With trusted customers, she also sends out "pick boxes" =AD
selections of work for the customer to select from; they send back
the pieces they don't want and a check for those they're keeping.
It would be difficult, though not impossible, to sell one-of-a-kind
via samples since the samples, by definition, would be different from
the ordered pieces. However, when a customer knows your type of work
well, and it is stylistically consistent, it can be done. This can
only work after you've established yourself with the customer, of
course, so your initial sale of one-of-a-kind work pretty much has to
consist of the final pieces.
Hope this helps.