Selling with consignment stores

Good Morning Ganoksin,

At the urging of my Sister-In-Law, I will be adventuring out into
the world to provide work to a couple local consignment stores in my
area. Apparently they are selling jewelry and hair accessories made
by local artists and I am wondering what my expectations might be as
far as contracts, etc. There is also a new gallery in town that
works with local artists on all sorts of items. I am more familiar
with the 50/50 type contracts ass we looked at a few during school,
but was wondering if there might be some lessons I could glean here
before I just walk out the door to go speak to them

Not that I am afraid of being a “noob”, (well maybe ya a little), but
would like to have a little wisdom about these of business matters
that I have never dealt in before. There is much wisdom to be gained
by my contemporaries, if I may ask. Is there some hard and fast rules
to follow, here? What are the worst things to look out for? Should I
be prepared with my own contracts or expect that they will have their
own and just read well to make sure that I am protected in it? Any
tips here would help me a lot. I am not in a financial position to
hire an attorney, and would like to avoid any big mistakes. I am
great at learning lessons from others if there are any out there that
Orchid members would share.

Thank You,

Hi, Teresa,

Should I be prepared with my own contracts or expect that they
will have their own and just read well to make sure that I am
protected in it? would like to have a little wisdom about these of
business matters 

You should contact the US Small Business Administration in your area
and ask for a SCORE volunteer mentor. SCORE services are free.

PS - Any contract drafted by a consignment shop – or anyone else
for that matter – will aim to protect them, not you, though it will
protect you in the sense that it will make it very clear what their
terms are. Anything not in the contract should not be assumed, no
matter how pleasant the principle players are to deal with.

Best regards and good luck,

Check out SNAG, the Society of North American Goldsmiths. Last time I
looked, they had sample contracts that were fair to both parties,
plus articles that discuss the danger points.

in a sweeping generalization- consignment particularly at 50/50 for
precious metal jewelry is never worth it in terms of getting back
even your costs- if your work is really professional try submitting
it to Artful Home if you are able to deliver rapidly. Its quite a
process to get accepted but the profit is reasonable if you have no
other outlets. regarding consignment:

  • first, negotiate with the OWNER- not an employee. Schedule an
    appointment, and don’t walk in cold, nor without a portfolio with
    pricing clearly visible beside each photo of each design and the
    options if any for stones, etc.

  • explain that this isn’t needlework or toll painted saw blades and
    that the costs of gold and silver is a volatile market and as such
    you would like to place your work there but need to negotiate a fair
    split that will give you some profit and not a loss on the materials
    ( price the materials at whatever the spot is on the day you
    approach the shop owner or the day you bought them: whichever is
    HIGHER), labor, studio overhead, etc. If the person is not willing to
    discuss the value of the materials walk out- it’s not the place for

  • ask what kind of security and protection the store offers in
    exchange for the consignment contract- what is there policy on
    shoplifted inventory? if there is no replacement policy ( or
    compensation that should be covered by their insurance - it is not a
    well thought out business- walk on!

  • if they allow anyone to walk in and take photographs of other
    people’s work- leave. It is not the place to deal with. If your
    designs are truly original and unique ( not dropping stones into
    pre-made mountings, earring posts, etc. ) unscrupulous manufacturers
    can photograph things that are promising and have them produced in
    China for a fraction of the cost it takes one to fabricate things by
    hand then sell it to chains like x-marts without compensating the
    designer for their work… and this happens all the time when craft
    consignment stores aren’t paying attention to customers walking in
    with cameras and not buying anything!

  • require that no one else can put * very* similar items on display-
    if you work in sterling and make bezel set rings there is no way to
    limit that but if you make sterling rings with stones set in a resin
    cab then bezel set ask for an exclusive with the store. If there are
    already two or more jewelers displaying work…you may want to go

  • as far as contracts read it thoroughly- there should be a
    non-compete clause in there that the owner or a relative won’t see
    your work and begin to make the same types of things under cuttng our
    prices, or having them displayed more prominently

  • its a fact that small items walk no matter how attentive the sales
    people are. If you go in and the clerk is reading a book on the job
    keep walking! Ask that your items be in a case ( you may have to
    provide your displays) as near the register as possible -which will
    mean the sales person will have to attend to the customers interested
    in your items between ringing up other sales, answering phones,
    receiving deliveries, etc. if the store isn’t set up to provide those
    services keep looking for a better place to show your items- what
    exactly are you getting for your percentage? if they can’t answer
    that without hesitation professionalism comes into question.

  • if you really want to place your items there anyway, (perhaps its
    the only game in town of that sort) mark up your price to offset the
    percentage required- but 50% is steep in any case and i would seek
    other avenues of selling your work before giving 50% up considering
    the cost of precious metals and even wholesale-

those are some MOST basic points to consider but the time it would
take to write out everything you should consider is prohibitive.
Check, the site and tammy Powley has a lot on

If you have any questions or need a copy of a non-compete contract 9
or other contracts contact me off list after saturday)…rer

The Professional Guidelines offers three contracts.

Consignment Contract
Exhibition Contract
Model Release Contract

find all contracts on the snag webstie:

here is the address for a one page professional guidelines handout
listing all topics

Harriete Estel Berman


whenever someone approaches me at a show or online about
representing me by putting my jewelry in their galleries i have a
standard three-part response: 1. every piece i make is one of a kind
and i cannot run the risk of having a potential customer seeking a
piece of work similar to what is away at some distant gallery. 2. if
the gallery rep is interested enough in what i do then i will sell it
to them at a wholesale price; having more of an investment in my work
is an incentive to sell those pieces over ‘oh well, i don’t have
anything tied up in these so i don’t need to push them right now.’ 3.
unless the gallery is close by, i have no way of regularly checking
that my work gets exposure, or to know the honesty of those working
in the gallery, or just how secure my work is in the gallery, and how
much my work is covered by gallery insurance in case of theft or
disaster. if the rep indicates my policy sounds harsh or
anti-business it tells me the rep is not professional enough to enter
a business contract with me.

good luck -
people, think more now, regret less later.


Not long ago I decided to explore consignment sales. As usual,
Orchid knows. Here are several good pieces on the subject of dealing
with galleries and contracts etc.

Ben A Harris