I recently started producing a few custom made ring samples in
silver with small cz’s pave set in various designs. Now as a
diamond/stone setter of some 18 years i put a lot of time and effort
into these pieces of ‘art’ since they are after all samples of the
kind of quality and workmanship that i want to be known for. Now
All fine to charge for top quality custom work using gold/plat,
diamonds ect…but when i just got asked to produce a job in
silver&coloured cz’s, i became stuck figuring out a price. why? I
think it’s fair to charge exactly the same price to set cz’s as it
is to set top quality diamonds since they take exactly the same
amount of time/skill if you are doing an equally special job. However
this makes my custom silver set ring become $$$$$$$$ ! okay so it’s
still cheap compared with a gold/dia version. How do you custom
jewelley folks get past this feeling of ‘maybe i should shave a 100
or so off the price’ feeling? Tried explaining the time/quality thing
to the potential customer AND myself! Anyone been here lately?
Any guidance would be a great help and yes i have read the archives
on the subject of custom pricing but…
I would think setting in Silver takes less time. If it does, figure
your time by the hour, based upon setting diamonds in gold. This will
lower the cost per stone.
I agree you want the same money, and you make valid points on silver
pricing. But as a jeweler myself, pave in silver is indeed faster.
510 Sutters Point
Atlanta, GA. 30328
(404) 255-9565 Voice
(404) 252-9835 Fax
I do custom stone cutting and it doesn’t matter what material I am
cutting, they get the price they get. If it’s CZ and it cost them.60
/ carat, or it’s pink rubellite that cost them $40 / carat… it’s
still my cutting charge.
Your situation isn’t much different. You are still doing a custom
job, using skills that others don’t have. It doesn’t matter the
materials. It’s kind of like a haircut, you don’t pay for the amount
of hair they gets cut off, or the time it takes them, you are paying
for their skill of cutting (well, if you get a ‘hairdoo’).
That’s how I look at things,
Hello my good friend Chris, hope you enjoy your new Orchid, I told
you this site is GREAT!. Am glad you are posting on it.
Now to answer your question on setting prices while in silver, there
should be no difference in labour fees while in silver. Why would
YOU think otherwise? Its YOUR time involved, time is money, labour is
still there, all thought the metal might change, your talents do
not!!! Setting labour is still a “relative constant.”. What may
change is the silver and CZ’s fee’s, keep your “standards” up high. I
keep telling you this on our private emails…:>)
For example, would your car mechanic charge you less if your car
were an American car against an Asian vehicle? Why would YOU? DO NOT
COMPROMISE YOUR SELLING FEE IN METAL WITH YOUR BASIC SETTING FEE’S,
just to sell the silver mountings.
Get my drift?
As a friend of mine who owns a retail store just said to me, in
regards to giving customers platinum quotes, “don’t apologize or be
embarrassed about it”. A fair price is a fair price, hell even with
little diamond melee, the setting charge is almost equal to the
stone cost. Just because it is a cz doesn’t mean your time is any
less valuable. If you normally charge (and I am just adding any
number) $5 to set a 4mm diamond into a bezel, would you change that
price if the stone you were setting was an amethyst that only cost
$2? Personally if the work is good, take pride in it and don’t
justify the cost to yourself, as for the customer, well they should
see the value in your labor, even though most don’t, but still, just
because they are using less expensive materials it doesn’t justify
you being less expensive.
If it helps any (and it won’t except in that friendly feeling of not
being entirely alone) I’m going to be following this thread with
interest becuase I have the oposite problem, I do silver production
line, it suits my strengths and weaknesses, but when people who love
what I do in sliver want wedding rings they come to me and ask for
gold. I’m not going to say no, but I have had little luck in coming
up with quotes that didn’t feel like there was a short end of the
stick for someone, and who got stuck with it depended entirely on
how the gold market twitched between the time I made the quote and
the time they gave me the deposit.
Please consider that diamonds are riskier to set than CZ’s. If you
break or lose a diamond, it can be quite expensive. On the other
hand, if you break or lose a CZ, you aren’t out much. Pricing of your
services should reflect the risk differential in the cost of the
material. Maybe you should raise your prices for diamond setting and
lower your price for other materials to balance things out.
Now to answer your question on setting prices while in silver,
there should be no difference in labour fees while in silver. Why
would YOU think otherwise? Its YOUR time involved, time is money,
labour is still there, all thought the metal might change, your
talents do not!
I think the worry that you are going to have by not lowering your
labour rate for working with silver is that your customer may feel
like they are getting ripped off when they see work that can be done
cheaper. You are competing more with asian labour with silver than
gold also. That being said if you have all the business you can
handle with gold its not fair to you to drop your labour costs just
because some customer happens to want silver. I know a lot of people
who will not work with silver as it is not profitable enough. You
cant be into every business and have all the customers and it is not
wrong to tell somebody that you cant do a job. I suspect that unless
you want to get into the silver business and generate economies of
scale it wont be worth your while dropping your labour rate for a
single job. If this is the only silver job you will be doing you
probably cant do it as fast as somebody working just with silver and
making many similar items. If its a good regular customer who wants
something “one off” you might be better off in the long run by biting
the bullet this once but if its a new customer and you have no
interest in getting into the silver business I see no reason to drop
your rate - just you might want to make sure that your customer
clearly knows how the cost is being arrived at in case he/she likes
your work and wants to become a regular customer later.
I think it's fair to charge exactly the same price to set cz's as
it is to set top quality diamonds since they take exactly the same
amount of time/skill if you are doing an equally special job.
The job is the same, and the quality of the work will be the same if
you make it so, but the risk is not. There might be a little room
for lowering the price because you can just throw away a chipped CZ,
and you do not have to tie up very much cash in your inventory of
CZ’s compared with diamonds. I guess you might be a really good
setter who never chips stones, but such worries still affect me.
I can’t say enough about David Geller’s Blue Book of Jewelry Repair.
Just yesterday, for instance, I looked in the section that deals
with creating custom bezels for cameos because I’m nearing completion
on one that is to be both a pin/brooch and a pearl necklace enhancer.
There is also a section for stone setting pricing, with various
listings for fancy shapes, as well as rounds. Setting is setting,
whether it be in gold, silver or pot metal. Find the Blue Book at
Standard disclaimer applies: I’m not related to David, nor am I an
employee, never been abducted by aliens (to my knowledge), but I
have seen sheep do it in the marketplace. I’m just a very satisfied
James S. Duncan, G.G
James in SoFL
While it’s true that it may be more risky from a
replacement/materials cost perspective to set diamonds than to set
cz’s, setting diamonds is really much easier than setting cz’s in
that they are so much more forgiving and durable. Rarely will you
abrade or chip a facet juncture setting a diamond but setting a
colored stone or a cz that liklihood is much higher. A set stone with
a disfiguring injury has to be unset then a new one reset at risk
again to the stone and setting.
So while one may have more costs on the table, I’d argue that
setting cz’s is in fact “riskier” and more labor intensive than
setting cz’s. Ditto working with silver and gold.
Just a different perspective,
There is a small sign out in the classroom that says: “There are
only two kinds of stone setters… those who have broken stones and
those who lie a lot…”
I will be the first to admit that I have broken my share. Not many,
mind you! Maybe two dozen? Out of over 100,000 setting jobs in 25
years of doing it?
So far, knockin’ on wood, the most recent expense was around $150 to
recut a marquise diamond I chipped. I knew better than to try it with
a graver that might be a little dull - but it was the end of the day,
I was tired and I wanted to get out of shop. I slipped and I paid for
it. It was entirely my fault.
Another sign says: “You don’t learn much from jobs that go
perfectly!” Learn from my mistake - either stop and resharpen your
graver or leave the job for the next morning when you are fresh.
(You’ll still have to resharpen the graver:)
If the marketplace determines that CZ and silver jewelry should be
lower priced than gold AND CZ’s are cheaper than diamonds AND Silver
is cheaper than Gold AND labor to set CZ’s should be lower than
setting diamonds, THEN the only way to get lower prices is to either:
A. Do the job faster
B. Pay someone lower wages to set CZ’s
C. or a combination of the both above.
Train a teenager to set CZ’s and pay lower wages.
510 Sutters Point
Atlanta, GA. 30328
(404) 255-9565 Voice
(404) 252-9835 Fax
I have read this thread with interest because the same pricing
question comes into play with a simple sizing of a silver ring vs.
gold. Yes, they are both very similar jobs but I usually find silver
more difficult because of its heat sink caracteristics and need to
protect the stones set into the rings. Needless to say I am always
compelled to charge less for silver than gold simply because the
value of the piece is so much less. Same goes for chain repairs.
As for setting stones, CZ’s break easier than diamonds but cost
virtually nothing. Silver is much softer than gold (Yellow and
especially White) so it is an easier job. Combine the two and the
job should cost less.
Now the big question everyone seems to skip around with custom
work…What will the market bear. If your charges make a job/piece
too expensive to sell…guess who owns it?
My local Acura dealer charges $90 an hour for labor to service my
How much do you charge for setting your customer’s heirloom diamond?
There is a small sign out in the classroom that says: "There are
only two kinds of stone setters... those who have broken stones and
those who lie a lot...
Oh, yes… I have not broken a diamond (yet), but other stones? I
have crunched a few bead-set garnets and other stones, scratched the
top of some cabs while I put the finishing touches on the inside
edge of the bezel, and then there is that 18K and emerald job that I
only made $30 on after I chipped the emerald and had to replace it.
Just one more little tweak, I thought, and there it went. I still
have most of that stone, though, to get re-cut and to sell again in
some other creation. At least I have a clue now about how careful I
will need to be with an emerald. I mean, I knew they were delicate,
but now I will be even more cautious. Sigh.
...and then there is that 18K and emerald job that I only made $30
on after I chipped the emerald and had to replace it. Just one
more little tweak, I thought, and there it went....
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve experienced that same “…Just
one more little tweak…” well, let’s just say I’d have a LOT of
nickels! My heart beats in sympathy with it, M’lou, and I hope it
never happens to any of us, ever.
James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL
Here’s one for you.
We have a lot of black outs here in Zurich. Every time the wind
blows, out they go. My steamer is in the basement, and a while back I
blew out a two pointer. Oh joy another stone to look for. During one
of the black outs, I put on a head lamp with four LED bulbs to light
the way. I went into the shop in the basement. Pitch black of course.
Glinting on the floor was my .02ct Diamond like a deer caught in the
head lights of a car. The light came back on, but that night I went
diamond hunting and found another one. Must be something about the
Alpine Custom Jewellers & Repair