What is your hourly rate?

I know there will be many different levels of experience out there
since some of you have been goldsmiths for many, many years.

But I am trying to decide how much to charge per hour.

Especially in this economy.

Obviously since I haven’t the experience many of you have it
wouldn’t be as much as most of you charge.

So if you don’t mind telling how much you charge per hour as well as
how long you have been in this business…

At least I would have some idea…

Thanks again for ALL your help with this and every other subject I
have posted.


basic gem id, setting, etc. $60/hr

cutting, etc.and making custom jewelry piece, customer and I agree on
a completed project price before I start. then I want at least 50% as
a downpayment (usually covers the cost of materials, the other 50% is
my work and profit margin).

John Atwell Rasmussen
Rasmussen Gems and Jewelry

Overall, with interruptions and such, you should be charging about
$100 to $125 an hour for your time. Many charge more, start there.

David Geller

But I am trying to decide how much to charge per hour. 

That is an easy one. Take your car to change oil and see what they
charge you per hour. Compare skill level required to change oil with
what you do and charge accordingly.

Leonid Surpin

Roberta-The short answer is, as much as you can get. We are
wholesale only. We do work for retailers and wholesalers. We charge
$75.00 per hour. This is what Tim was paid to do tattoo work at Acme
Tattoo 7 years ago. He figures he’s worth as much as a gold and
platinum smith as he is as a tattoo artist. At this time we have more
work that we can do, so we are thinking of raising our rates. I have
always said that if an artist has too much work to do, they need to
raise their prices. Never,ever apologize for what you charge. It’s
all about perceived value. “Wow! She charged how much? Ooooh, she
must be really good.” “Platinum is how much? Wow! I better get me
some jewelry before the price gets higher.”


Hello Roberta,

You didn’t say what kind of work you are doing. That will have a
huge bearing on what you can charge and more importantly what people
will be willing to pay you. Your time is worth exactly what people
will pay you for it.

If you are doing repairs and straightforward custom work, consult
David Geller’s Blue Book. It is based on about $125 an hour (at
retail) plus 3 key materials. Under the Geller contract plan a
goldsmith is paid one third of the labor per job for what they do (if
I remember right). Very similar to auto mechanics and time estimate
manuals. The more work one can do in a given time, the more one can
make per hour. If you are really fast and good, you can make as much
as $40 to $50 an hour as a goldsmith working for someone using the
Geller plan.

If you are doing trade work, normally you can get away with half of
Geller’s rates if you are supplying materials, picking up and
delivering, etc, but you have to be good. Wholesale clients tend to
be very price sensitive and some will beat you up over $5, especially
for low to mid-level skilled work and work of lower quality (i.e.
thinned shanks, lumpy solder joints, crooked stones, etc). There is
an old adage about three things commonly wanted with jewelry trade
work. Price, speed and quality. You can pick any two, I get to set
the other one.

If you are creating totally unique jewelry, trial and error is
probably the only way you will be able to figure out how much your
work is worth. Pricing is based on perceived value as opposed to a
time plus materials formula. David Yurman’s silver jewelry is a great
example of the difference between perceived value versus cost of
materials and time. That is something you can have almost complete
control over and is determined by such things as your artistic talent
and your marketing savvy (think David Yurman again, a modern master
at combining the two), your attitude towards your jewelry and your
clients, your venue such as craft shows and farmer’s markets as
opposed to private high-end galleries, that sort of thing. The more
exclusive the venue, the clientele and your jewelry, the more you
can charge for your work, as a general rule.

You will also find that the more exclusive your skills, the more you
can charge. Metalsmiths that can size rings are a dime a dozen so to
speak, and have tons of competition thereby making their value
comparatively low per job. Hourly pay becomes a function of speed and
accuracy. But expert fabricators or highly experienced and skilled
hand engravers are much harder to find, therefore speed becomes a
little less of an issue, precision and skill become more important
and they can charge more per job as well as per hour. Pure supply and
demand. There is also the issue of the value of pieces being worked
on. Sizing 10K gold rings is not nearly as prized a skill as the
ability to accurately, safely and dependably size delicate and highly
valuable platinum rings set with large, fragile stones. This is where
even trade work becomes more trust centered than price driven.

Probably not the answer you were looking for but this is not a
cut-and-dried subject.


I think you need first to define where in the system you are.

Are you an employee? Contract worker? Freelance? Retail shop owner?

Region has a lot to do with it. I think its JCK that publishes
annual reports on such things. Maybe your state employment agency
will have some stats you’ll find helpful.

Hi Roberta,

When you are first starting out, how much to charge is (in my
opinion) one of the most difficult questions to answer. I remember
being surprised that there were no tried and true formulas that I
could find to use. Rather I was told that I should charge as much as
I can…advice that wasn’t super helpful. What we do now has become a
fairly complicated mix of formulas based on the type of work we are
doing. What I suggest to people who are relatively new to the
business is to decide how much you feel like you can reasonable pay
yourself annually and then work backwards, $50,000 is $25 p/hr,
$80,000 is $40 p/hr, $100,000 is $50 p/hr…

Then you need to figure in your annual overhead, rent, insurance,
fees, phone, electricity, tools…etc. If that is $30,000 (for
example) then you divide that by 2000 (hours) and you have $15 p/hr
of overhead. You need to add that $15 to your hourly rate to cover
overhead. That will give you a rough number that you can shoot for as
a minimum charge per hour.

But in reality you are not working every hour of every workday.
Running a business is not like working a job for an hourly wage.
Typically you will want to work up a price list for the most common
tasks you perform and those prices need to include your time, your
overhead and your materials. The material component is marked up. So
the combination of the labor and overhead charge and the marked up
materials should give you a cushion of profit that will lift you to
your target income and also provide your business with enough capital
to continue to operate.

Another note is to look at your prices that you arrive at and
reflect on them. Compare them to what others are charging. Ask
yourself if there is more value to that work than you are charging
for. Often there is a perception of value that already exists of that
you can create. Those are profit opportunities that you should not
pass up. You need to make a living after all.

Hope that helps a little bit.