Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

What would you wholesale for $30?

This is a serious question. What could you wholesale for $30?
Consider that you are not casting, but hand-fabricating and, of
course, want to add some colored stones that are so hot, hot, hot
for Fall. I have a rep that wants me to wholesale handcrafted
jewelry and keep the prices around $30. On the other hand, I have a
rep that likes my higher-end line. I’m really struggling with what
I could do that would be original and, as my rep states, “over the
top with my designs” - for $30.

Personally, I can’t come up with anything that I could make from
start to finish that would be cost-effective for me to sell at $30
wholesale. Am I doing something wrong, or is this an unreasonable
request from my rep?

My dear friend, Is the request of your “rep” unreasonable? No it is
not unreasonable. It is WAY BEYOND unreasonable. In fact, this may
well be a new definition of the word “Chutzpah”. Who is the "rep"
representing? If you can make money fabricating a low-cost line
without losing your integrity as an artist, then what do you need
with a rep? Certainly not this rep. My advice is to follow the
immortal words of Nancy Regan and JUST SAY NO. With best wishes from
beautiful Denver, Batya Stark

I think the rep who is making such a restrictive request may not be
the best one for you to work with. I don’t think it is up to a rep to
decide your prices, nor to request something “over the top.” If
you want to do something “over the top,” it should be your choice
and not the result of pressure from a rep. Also, you should be the
one who sets the price. If you have already developed a higher-end
line that another rep likes, by all means I would suggest you do
business with that person.

The very fact that you are struggling with this issue shows that
developing a line to pease a rep may not be the best course of action
for you. Stick with what you enjoy doing, set your own
prices, and go with a rep who is not so demanding. Best wishes Alma

Well…say you want to make $20/hour as your salary…the whole
piece would need to be completed in an hour, and the materials would
need to cost you about $2, if you use hourly labor plus two times
materials plus something for overhead and profit. Do you have any
designs that you can do start to finish in an hour, using $2 worth
of materials, that look good? Wire-wrapping and bead stringing come
to mind, but it sounds like you are talking about traditional
fabrication, stone setting, etc. I guess it depends how complex your
designs are, but I think it would be tough to make a profit.

– Leah

Not much if you make it in the US. This is the kind of price range
where you really must look at having the work made overseas. You
can’t even touch the work much less make anything for $30 by the
time you factor in all your expenses. If you have a line that is
higher end that is selling then I would focus on it, otherwise you
need to re-asses your business plan and maybe look for a way to have
your work made in another country where the cost of labor is not so

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau


This is something that has been occurring more and more frequently
as retailers and customers become more accustomed to cut-throat
sales and accommodating sellers.If you are doing one-of-a-kind
pieces, hand - fabricated production, you will need to evaluate your
goals and determine what you want to be doing 5-10-15 years from
now. If you are trying to mass produce your designs for the general
public then you will need to learn to manufacture items that will
compete on the world market at the prices required for that market.
If you want to compete in a local market of one-of-a-kinds, then you
will need to develop a good and repetitive client list that
understands that you need to make a living for the work that you
do.I do not think that there is any way that you could seriously
consider trying to produce hand fabricated pieces in any of the
industrialized nations of the world at wholesale-$30.00 for any
length of time without going broke or injuring your health or your
workers.Accepting less $ than your work deserves is not beneficial
in the long run. You may receive a short term benefit, $'s, but in
the long run it will hurt you and your fellow metalsmiths.It will
propagatethe retailers demands for something For nothing, your
rep’s desire for material that sells itself without any work on
their part and the continuing under payment of workers in parts of
the world that will work for dismal wages, simply to survive.

Seriously take a moment, and consider what you want you and your
work to be, not today but tomorrow when you are beginning to be
known. Do you want to be a manufacturer? -then figure out how to
produce the items that will sell at the price points your reps and
their accounts want. If you want to concentrate on one of a kinds -
find a rep that can sell them, or create your niche in the market
you are in, or find a market that wants your work-none of this is
fast or easy but it will be worth while in the long run. Remember-

a manufacturer can make a fortune, a penny at a time-

a craftsman can make a good life through the creations of their

an artist may starve. but will touch many lives-(and if they realize
that art is business they may live well)

-personally I would find a new rep.


RKS Designs

Hi Catherine Try some one of a kind bead earrings. No two pairs are
exactly the same even if you use the same beads. I make mine from
22ga sterling wire, melt a bead on the end, buff, add beads and
either add to hooks or bend excess wire into hooks. Materials cost
around$2-4 and it takes 10 minutes to assemble. I do this for
jewellery that the children can afford, and they usually like dangles
that are not quite as long anyway. These I retail for under $30 and
often under $20.

Karen Bahr “the Rocklady” (@Rocklady)
K.I.S. Creations
May your gems always sparkle.

That’s a hard one for sure, and one I struggle with myself…pricing.
I guess you have to figure out what you want/think you should get
per hour + materials and go from there. Figure in the advantage of
quantity sales for a discount, and go from there. As a person who
does handmade filigree, I sympathize. I have always had a tendancy to
underprice. Most of my pieces would wholesale for over $30 a piece,
except for some of the smaller pieces that take around an hour each
to make. My material costs are low because I often buy my gems via
ebay or shows. You cannot hope to, for example, buy gems via a source
like Rio and come in under $30. Especially if you buy the prong
settings as well.

PS. Let me know if you come up with a good formula

Jeanne Rhodes Moen
Kristiansand, Norway

Dear Catherine: In reply to your sales reps request, I would way no,
he is not treating you right. He is wanting to make $. How much
will he make as a commission on these pieces compared to what you
would net on such an item? I don’t know what kind of work you do
but you can’t compete with oversees jewelry. Why even try? If
people like your over the top things make those!! I used to make a
lot of cheap [$35 – $45 } one of a kind earrings back in the late
80’s. Every pair was one of a kind and every pair sold quickly. My
main gallery took 50%. So at the end of the year I looked at my
figures and found that I was making about 15%. The rest was taken
up by materials and commissions. Screw that. If you start shooting
for the bottom you will go broke. The galleries won’t, neither will
your sales rep. Don’t become a slave to these folks, they will end
up with vacation homes and you will end up tired and feeling used.
Fortunately, I don’t have to do that kind of work anymore, go with
the folks who like what you like. You will make $ and feel good
about what you are doing.

Good luck,Dennis

Hello Everybody!

I think its extremely important if you are building your business to
offer several low prices items (and I guess low price is determined
by materials too- I guess you can’t have platinum and diamond pieces
for under 30 bucks!)

Everything thing in my line is hand sculpted or silversmithed then
casted. Many pieces are then worked some more by hand after casting
by hammering or filing so in the end many of my pieces are one of a
kind. I have several 1" diameter pendants on cord and chain and small
earrings that all wholesale for under $30 in silver. I found that by
offering less expensive items new stores are more inclined to try out
my line and once the less expensive items sell out they always come
back and by the more expensive pieces or a good mix of expensive and
inexpensive. Prior to that I could not get my big foot in the door
anywhere :)! This also works for press with magazines. No one ever
calls in my work for stories on expensive work, but if there is a
story on silver items that retail for under $100 I always get the
call and as a result I have gotten some press. The press leads to
lots of online sales (thank god) where people will buy the over $100
items as well.

I try not to see any restrictions (like price restrictions) as a
creative block- see it as a challenge- "how can I make the best
piece possible for under $30… " I use to hem and haw and think it
was impossible to do until I started to see it as a challenge and not
as a road block.

take care


Hi Folks…

I think some folks might have brushed on this, and to a certain
extent it depends on how tightly the end product is tied in with the
producer’s name or brand…

Back in another life as a marketing major, a concept was taught by
the following story…

A foreign compact car, known as the VW (Bug) was making significant
inroads into American autombile sales…It had a lot of things going
for it…“cute”, fuel efficient, price tag…compared to the
behemoths Detroit was content in mainstreaming those days…

In the example used, Ford brought out a compact car called the
Falcon, to try to cut into the encroaching sales of the import

What happened was minimal impact against the VW sales, but buyers
who would have bought the larger, more expensive Fords bought the
Falcon instead… I mean…it was still a Ford…

It’s called “marketing cannibalism”… – Gary W. Bourbonais

Has your sales rep tried Central America?? Lot’s of under 30 dollar
jewelry items there !

This is the mentality that we are going to be forced to deal with,
Skilled Craftsmanship Done yesterday, at third world (read:
Developing Nations,) I forgot my P.C., prices with a Designers name
attached. I regard Bali Silversmiths with the utmost of regard, I
only wish they were compensated commensurately with American or
Canadian craftsmen. The Old Plateros of Taxco Mexico were among the
best anywhere. Then an American found out about it and Badda Bang the
die was cast. Before long America and Canada will be listed as
developing nations. Wait!! Hold the presses. We own the companies,
and we are the ones that have the Wal-Mart mentality. So why are we
crying now. I remember everyone decrying Labor Unions; they foretold
of this happening as far back as 40 years ago that I remember, so why
are we so surprised now.( Ah was it because we thought we were the
top dog ) We wanted every thing cheaper, “after all why should you
and I have to pay some guy living in the next state to build our car,
Bring that money here to my town”.

Why are we so appalled that these countries have developed into
exactly what our leadership has told them they need to be in order to
be like America. This is the lesson they learned very well, I truly
am glad that the Socio-Economic welfare is better for these places
with odd sounding names; I remember seeing what things were like in
the late early 1960s in some of the Central American countries and
South East Asia in the latter 1960s. I also wish there was less of a
wage spread, Perhaps that would bring things into perspective. Or
perhaps as used to be done! Nationalization of foreign owned
companies. (that gets my vote) I’ll just bet that would be sending
companies that turned their backs on craftsmen and women scurrying
back where they belong. But that would mean that my kid would have
to get a substandard job at some all-night convenience store and
forget about that wasted time earning an MFA.

OK that was my 3 drachma In the immortal words of Frank Zappa “It
can’t happen Here”

Kenneth Ferrell

I don’t know what to say about the reasonableness of the rep, bowing
here to those who have experience with the breed. What I’m reminded
of is last year’s SNAG conference and its theme, “Making It [i.e. a living] In Metal.” Much of what I came away with is that many of us
will have to create production lines in order to survive. I will
offer the two relevant tips that I have actually used, and one I’m
not up to using yet.

Thomas Mann analyzes his one of a kind pieces for elements he can
use to create production pieces. I have done this: I make high-end
wirework necklaces and earrings and I was asked to do some stuff that
kids could afford. I use a lot of hand coiling in my pieces and I
discovered that I could purchase little lengths of coil commercially.
I designed a line of earrings in which I assemble beads and coils
onto eye pins, then spiral the ends, and attach the “eye” to a
commercial ear wire. The are definitely “fast production”–although,
given how much I enjoy playing with color combinations, they’re also
probably one of a kind. They are cheap and they fit with the rest of
my work. (Now, if I had to make 300 of them to satisfy a rep, I’d
probably go crazy!) Whether or not I’m lowering the "perceived value"
of my work by doing this I don’t know. But it’s actually fun,
because I’m working almost entirely with colored niobium (thank you,
Reactive Metals Studios!) and glittery crystals and I’m a bit of a
kid myself.

Andy Cooperman said that his production line consisted entirely of
earrings. I doubt that they wholesale for $30 (do you mind telling us
what they do wholesale for, Andy?), but I thought this was good
advice. Obviously, I used that principle in designing my niobium
"kids line"–kids may love bracelets, but I can’t make them fast
enough for the price I could get. I can, however, come up with
earring elements (I’ve been making a lot of large hammered wire
spiral head pins recently), then lay them all out and move them
around until I have a bunch of earrings ready to assemble. This makes
it pretty quick.

I don’t think either of these ideas just apply to us bead and wire
folks. I’ve seen people solder earrings, using an "assembly line"
approach, in such a way that I’m sure they can make at least 10 pairs
in an hour (something I still can’t do).

The tip I haven’t used is Don Friedlich’s: to design a line that can
be made using industrial methods. Although he didn’t say so, this can
enable you to use union labor, which is something that’s very
important to me. I’m sure I’m not the only person who winced when he
showed a slide of somebody’s work, made with gold-plated industrial
wire mesh, and compared it to Mary Lee Hu’s. But there were a lot of
clever ideas in that slide show, and he passed around the
photo-etched (I think…) plates for his “clothes pins.” The trick is
to come up with something that looks like your work–or maybe
not–and design it up front to be mass-produced. (I think I’m
repeating myself. I have a strong memory of referring to this as the
"Ikea method" of jewelry design at some time in the past. Now I’ll
have to go search the archives…).

Well, that was pretty wordy!

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments
Benicia, CA

Thank you to everyone who has replied to me on this subject. I
think I knew the answer ahead of time, but just needed a little
reassurance from the Orchid community. I’ve spent the last five
months selling a low-end line to please the rep and the buyers and,
frankly, it has nearly killed me. Bottom line… there is not much
"perceived" value in something that takes very little time and very
little $ in materials - no matter how much you try to dress it up.
For $30 wholesale price, with the rep taking 15%, my overhead costs,
and the costs of the materials, I could barely afford to solder the
piece, let alone clean it, polish it, etc. The end result was that
I was getting about $.30 in labor per piece.

I’m in a frustrating situation. The buyers love my low-end line,
but the low-end line is going to put me in the hole (financially and
physically) and I can’t live off the income generated (which amounts
to ZERO after all costs and labor).

The even bigger factor is that I don’t look at my low-end designs
with the same pride and feeling of accomplishment that I do with my
higher-end line. It’s hard to sell something like that.

I’m looking at going in an entirely new direction and sticking with
what makes me happy - the higher-end designs. My hope is that there
are buyers out there that still value and desire jewelry that is
handcrafted and of a higher quality. I would have to say that my
designs probably fall into the “bridge jewelry” category. I’ve heard
that can be a very difficult category of jewelry to sell. I’d love
to hear from others that have been successful selling and finding
buyers that still want quality and not simply a piece of jewelry they
buy to wear for a couple months and then throw away.

In the meantime, I’m going to figure out a way to transition into
this new line. I definitely do not think the “fashion” jewelry
circuit is going to be my way to go.

 Don't become a slave to these folks, they will end up with
vacation homes and you will end up tired and feeling used. 

Can I relate to that!! Also it seems, today’s commercial accounts
seem to have taken the Idea that if you don’t want to do it at their
price then I’ll send the work over seas. (been there, done that, and
have the scars to prove it)

Kenneth Ferrell


Where ever there is money there is opportunity! The ladies of leisure
who live to socialise, and go to all the right parties, races,
fashion shows and Charity Balls, live to wear something that no ones
else has in their possession. Its a feeding frenzy to get there
before the other sweeties of their social circle do!

You may not admire there motives, but these perfectly manicured
individuals hold the key to your future! Put your heart and soul into
your beautiful work with a clear conscience, drop your Rep and target

Get your self out there, ring round all the major Magazines with
offices in your area, make some appointments with their stylists and
fashion editors and start working this God given talent of yours to
"your" advantage! You need to get a relationship going with some high
brow Stylists, you lend them your work for Magazine shoots, and
here’s the nice thing “It wont cost you a penny” ! What it will do is
bring your work to the very places you cant travel! To the beach
house of Malibu, the Penthouse Apartments of Manhattan, coast to
coast coverage! And all it takes is a phone call and a few face to
face meetings. You bet yeah, ladies want one off and limited addition
creations, all you have to do is make it available to them! If you
cant get to the high brow stylists, go for the next
best…believe me they have good contacts.

Now is that enough motivation for yeah?? I’m speaking from
experience! Hold on tight to your hat girl!! Because you are about to
get into the loop!!


This thread has me thinking about pricing. Based on the pricing
structure I was taught, the person who says she could wholesale for
$30.00 the pieces that take her one hour to make is paying herself
less than minimum wage.

So here is an informal survey: Using your your current pricing
structure/strategy, what would you charge for a piece that took one
hour of labor and contained $10.00 worth of materials?


Thanks for playing,

I guess one of the points is, not what you can make cheaply, but
what you can make cheaply within your genre/style, since that is what
appeals to the rep. Some styles, like mine, the filigree work, are
hard to cut time on more than I have, so I do have a separate line of
memory wire and dangle earrings which I use for markets where there
is a low ceiling on general sales price, but I’d hardly call them ‘my
trademark style’. But here is a thought for you. Do you have any
favorite designs in silver that would be castable? Or can you design
something that would be (would really help to see a few examples of
your work to get a better idea if it is)? If so, pick 3-5 models,
find a decent casting company, one that can do most of the work for
you so that all you have to do is set the stones and a final polish.
Then you should be able to make a compromise between your ‘style’ of
work, which the rep likes and price…assuming you can uses stones
which are not too expensive. It may cost a bit right out of the
pocket to have them cast for you, but if you know they will sell,
they could become a background source of income without that much
hard labor, giving you more time for your own high end work.


what would you charge for a piece that took one hour of labor and
contained $10.00 worth of materials? 

I would look at it compared to my other work and my perception of
the market. I would price it according to what I thought the market
would bear. But if that were not $80 bare minimum (retail), I would
not make that style again, unless I could figure a way to do it more
efficiently without lowering the perceived value, or a way to raise
the perceived value without increasing my cost. Or unless I "needed"
to work through the particular series for my artistic growth
(unlikely at that price level).

Remember-- For every complex problem, there is a simple answer, and
it’s always wrong! (sorry- can’t remember who said it first).


  So here is an informal survey: Using your your current pricing
structure/strategy, what would you charge for a piece that took
one hour of labor and contained $10.00 worth of materials? 

Wholesale: not currently wholesaling, because I can maximize my
income through direct sales (also, my production is not fast enough
to do both)

Retail: $40 for earrings or simple bracelet because I can do around
3 in an hour; $55-65 for pendant; am not making full necklaces in one
hour but if I could it would add $45 to the price.

This is taking into account overhead as well as materials and labor
(e.g. - utilities, advertising, show costs, accounting and other
basic business costs).

I am just getting going, and I have resisted the urge to price lower
just to sell. I am tired of being a starving artist (have been a
freelance writer for 15 years). My pieces are priced from $45 up to
$550; includes silverwork, copper, custom cut stones as well as
mass-produced stones, and beads.

There is a “sweet spot” that I hope to find during my first few
shows this summer where the price is low enough to entice but high
enough to show value and pride, and to make it worthwhile!