The "value" of a piece

I agree with Marne Ryan. I have had people do the same thing in my
booth.(gauge the weight of a piece) I can’t understand why people
buy art like they buy clothes - and I think of my handcrafted work as
art. For some reason, people don’t stop and think about the $15
dollars worth of paint and $10 worth of canvas when they are buying a
$5000 painting. If taken care of properly, art, be it painting or
pendant will last a lifetime. I believe it is worth much more than
the sum of its parts and I also believe if you like something enough
it is worth whatever you are willing to pay to have it.

G. Cleveland

You don’t suppose people heft a piece just to tell whether it’s
light or heavy do you? Some like it heavy, some like it light. They
are not necessarily planning on making an offer based on it’s weight.
At least not in the U.S… In Asia, however, that is in fact how you
buy gold and sometimes silver jewelry. You not only heft it but have
the seller weigh it in front of you. Jerry in Kodiak

Hello All!

I couldn’t agree with you more. Much of the success for pricing
painting, glass, fibers, clothes and ceramics is due to advertising
and marketing. Why is it with jewelry, that price equates with
hefting the piece in your hand and making mental calculations of
the material? I see this at shows often and it really ANNOYS me. I
don’t see someone walk over to a beautiful chenille and silk scarf,
which is priced at $225 and mentally calculate the amount of fiber
used to construct it. Nor do I see somebody look at a glass vessel
with a $3000 price tag and think that this is sand.

Studio glass, of all the craft media has come into it’s own in the
last 15 years. Personally, I at contribute this to Dale Chihuly.
You may not like the guy, but he has done more to market glass and
make it a viable INVESTMENT. He creates books, he has videos, he
works the floor at a gallery opening like nobody I have ever seen.
This guy markets, and because of his consistent marketing, has put
glass on the map.

Studio jewelry is probably the least understood of all the work out
there. Beautifully hand crafted one of kind pieces that are made
with exquisite craftsmanship end up sitting on shelves gathering
dust. Nobody should stand for it. The only time I see the gallery
owners beam at the jewelry in the cases, is during SNAG conferences.
What should we do and what can we do. It is our responsibility to
begin educating every customer out there, making our work an
heirloom, something worthy to be passed on. We need to be more
proactive with gallery owners.

Look at some of the premier marketers in our field. DeBeers. Wow.
It’s a rock for Christ’s sake, and not at all rare considering how
many of them are out there. Rubies, emeralds, or alexanderite, now
that is rare. DeBeer’s marketing is amazing and their ads are all
over the place, pulling at our heart strings.

Now look at David Yurman. The man is a marketing genius. He’s
plastered all over every major magazine. While I don’t particularly
like the work myself, I applaud his marketing saavy. How about
Daniel Brush? His collectors are called “custodians” and they have
the honor of dropping $250K on one of his pieces. Mind you Daniel
Brush is off the charts crazy/bright, but you get my point.

As a metalsmith, it is my duty to make work that is the highest
level of craftsmanship I can make. I rather have a small selection
of exquisite pieces that I feel proud of, than an overwhelming hoard
of work that is made poorly. As a metalsmith, it is my
responsibility to do everything I can to market my work to its

These people represented in this list are ones that I consider to
have the highest craftsmanship and market their work very well.

My short list of amazing metalsmiths that I admiRe:

Deb Karash:
Cynthia Downs:
Ford and Forlano:
Don Friedlich:
Cynthia Eid:
Boris Bally:
Andy Cooperman:
And a couple of outstanding galleries that market the work:
DeNovo Gallery:

Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio

Karen, Another gallery to ad to your list is Llyn Strong in
Greenville, South Carolina. I came across it by accident while
traveling last week. Llyn Strong has a beautiful gallery that sells
only “Studio” jewelry and glass. Everything is beautifully displayed
in a Main Street gallery on one of the prettiest Main Streets in the
country. If any one is passing through Greenville, don’t miss it. Joel

Joel Schwalb

I so agree with Norma that most people enjoy hefting or caressing a
piece of fine jewelry and it doesn’t seem very likely that unless
that person doing so is also a jeweler, and has years of experience
gauging the weight of an object reliably, they are trying to insult
the seller. I would never take it that way. Potential buyers
should first be considered friend, not foe, until Proven otherwise.
I am very petite and have arthritic joints. I would certainly want
to know how much a necklace weighed before hurting my neck, for
instance. But, to keep things light, let me tell you a story on
myself. In Mexico, buying opals in a small shop, I selected a small
handful of the ones I liked and “hefted” them, saying out loud the
approximate weight. The lady took them from my hand to the scale,
whirled around and looked at me with what I could only describe as
fright and asked “How Did You DO that?” I’d nailed it exactly. She
probably thought me possessed of supernatural powers, until I laughed
and reassured her that I handled a lot of metal and stones. Will
never know if she believed me though. It really was luck.


It is amazing what experience teaches us. For example, after 30 years
of selling rings, I can usually look at a client’s hand and KNOW
what ring size they are. I choose which ring sizer to start with
based on that, and I am MOSTLY correct.

What say you, other Orchidians?

David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings


You're right. After 28 years of looking at fingers, I can usually

guess their size within 1/2 size. It’s nice to know that we can
always get a job with a carnival, if retail doesn’t work out ; )

Douglas Zaruba
35 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107
Why Wait? Move to EarthLink.

ndeed as I do sizing regularly without sizing rings available, I’ll
be out socializing and a client will ask can you size this piece?
Having done it successfully several hundred times, I would say yes!
Ringman John

Karen, I feel strongly enough about Daniel Brush’s work to say that
he shouldn’t be in the same paragraph with David Yurman.

Now look at David Yurman.  The man is a marketing genius.  He's
plastered all over every major magazine.  While I don't
particularly like the work myself, I applaud his marketing saavy. 
How about Daniel Brush?  His collectors are called "custodians" and
they have the honor of dropping $250K on one of his pieces.  Mind
you Daniel Brush is off the charts crazy/bright, but you get my

And I do get your point. I don’t speak from personal knowledge of
David Yurman’s business, but I suspect his is a case where millions
of advertizing bucks have been spent to make his name well known.
It’s not the work, but the money. I had the good fortune to be in
Washington D C when the Renwick did a retrospective of Brush’s work.
In contrast to Yurman, Brush’s work seems to spring from passion
and curiosity. His work is jaw dropping as you noted. I think most
of us are marketing on a more personal level, but there are lessons
to be learned whereever we find them.

I also just happen to see a PBS thing on Chihuly and find him a
little off putting, but he really energized the groups that he
worked with in different countries and that’s something significant.
With respect K Kelly

Hi Karen, and everyone else, too. I’ll stick by something I said
elsewhere on here. Don’t you just enjoy hefting a substantial piece
of jewelry and feeling its weight? Especially with all of the
hollowed out junk that is out there? When I heft a piece, I’m not
calculating the price/dwt, I’m just enjoying the weight and the nice
feeling it gives me.

As for marketing, another great success story is Harley Davidson. I
have been riding for years, but I still fail to see why people stand
in line to buy Harley’s just because they are American, or for
styling reasons, either. It is marketing HYPE!! to nth degree. I’m
sure I’ll raise somebody’s ire here, but I would rather buy an import
for half the price and own a more reliable, better performing and
better handling machine. As for styling, a lot of the imports look
so similar that it is difficult to tell the difference from more than
a few feet away. If I could afford the Harley, I would more likely
buy something else anyway, and with the change left over could buy my
wife a new machine, too. And, considering how many of the Japanese
bikes sold here are built here to begin with, I’m not even guilty of
sending jobs overseas.


It is our responsibility to begin educating every customer out

while writing for a commissioned piece at a recent show
the woman asked if i would ‘discount’ her piece - she wanted a
shorter version requiring less material than the original design
(she had no neck & some of you remember how i feel about snarky
women with no necks) i set aside my day book, put down the pen,
looked at her & explained, “you would not have been paying for the
material put into my jewelry, the price is for an original design
you cannot get elsewhere; for my work and labor. the version i would
have done for you would have been the only one like it because i
don’t duplicate. so, no, there are no discounts.” (I did not ask her
how often she told the sales clerk at dress shops “hey, since i wear
a size 12 instead of a 24, i would like a discount because my size
doesn’t take as much fabric.”) she backtracked with haste & grace,
so i finished writing up the order. would i have missed out on the
commission because of her attitude if she had persisted? would i
have refused to trade $2.00 worth of pearls, $8.00 worth of sterling
& about 1 1/2 hours of labor for $300.00+? you bet! if you don’t
believe in & practice your self-worth, who will? the woman now has a
newly appreciative attitude about art show jewelers & their work, so
we both profited. ive life is short, treat everyone as though you will
be the last person they see before they die.