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Wholesale pearl stringing pricing


#1

Hey all. I’ve been restringing pearls in Cincinnati Ohio for over a
decade. Not to brag, but I do a very nice job. My knots are tight
and even and I use French wire on the ends. I string pearls on silk.
I’ve recently been communicating with a web-based pearl seller hoping
to do their stringing. I’ve been charging $2 per inch wholesale for
several years now and have not had complaints from the stores that I
string for. I’ve also checked another trade shop (Jewel Craft) and
seen that they also charge this amount. My pearl seller said he was
told that this is more of a retail cost and that he has been told
that $8-$10 per strand is what he is finding wholesale. I figured
that would be around 50 cents per inch.

What have you guys found. either doing the work yourselves or having
had to pay others to do it? I guess I just want to know where in the
pricing spectrum I am? Thanks so much.

Leslie


#2

Leslie, the store I work in charges .40 per knot, retail.


#3

20+ years ago, I was charging 25 cents per knot. WHOLESALE! Some 10
years ago when I was super pressed for time due to large orders, I
PAID $1 per knot WHOLESALE. Your pearl seller is most mistaken and
is trying to get a very low price from you. I would walk away from
his orders to do as people who do that is usually unhappy with even
the best work, in a chance they may get it done for free.

Judy Shaw, GJG


#4

Hi Leslie, Around the Washington, D.C. area, the price runs around
1.75 to 2 dollars per inch. Don’t cut your price.

Have fun.
Tom Arnold


#5

Hi Leslie,

Here in San Francisco the going wholesale price for re-stringing
with knots at 18" and maybe french wire is anywhere around $1.50 per
inch to $2.00…Meaning at 18" you’d get charged $27.00… Now, you
could cut a quantity price- say $1.40 per inch…BUT no way, in silk
with french wire is anyone being charged 50 cents per inch…You
can’t account for the materials, labor & have a quality job…

So, I am not sure about your area but it would seem that you have
been charging (-: is credible…

Cheers & Happy Cold Air from SF,too
Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan
http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#6

Hi Leslie;

I've recently been communicating with a web-based pearl seller
hoping to do their stringing. I've been charging $2 per inch
wholesale for several years now and have not had complaints from
the stores that I >string for. 

Your price doesn’t sound too far off to me. That’s about what I end
up paying a woman who does pearl stringing for me. But… she charges
by the knot (50 cents per), not by the inch. I think you should
consider this to protect yourself. Remember any jobs like this?

Grandma’s old pearls. The strand is 16 inches, tapering from about 5
millimeters in the center down to around 2.5 on the ends. The silk
is rotten, and many of the pearl’s holes are plugged with hardened
crud, a mixture of silk, sweat, perfume, and whatever, so you have to
drill this crap out, and the holes are rather small, hard to even get
the finest needle through. Careful not to bump that pearl board and
have the little buggers jump out of that trough or you’ll have to
measure and sort them all out. Oops, one just jumped out of your
hand, so now you can crawl around on your hands and knees looking for
it because the store did count and note how many and you don’t have
any extras in that size and color. How many knots per inch? 10? 15?

You’ve been doing this for a while, you must have an idea of what
your overhead is, how many hours in a day/year you actually get to
spend stringing. Don’t count time calling clients, ordering supplies,
packing up jobs and running them to the post office, etc., that’s in
the overhead. You need to determine how much an hour you need to make
to pay the bills and yourself and put a little money aside to grow or
just to cover the week you have to take off because you’re down with
the flu. Then sit down and time yourself. Okay, you’ve got a cost per
knot you need to make. Now, increase that a bit because you’re
probably pretty fast by now after all these years and that means you
are worth more per hour that the average schlub.

I know there are people on the West Coast tying for 25 cents a knot,
but ours works out to around 50 cents per. My guess is that works out
to about $2 an inch on 8 mm pearls. But how about one of those
"Add-A-Pearl" jobs, the ones on the delicate chain, about 2
millimeters each? I’ve paid around $15 each for those with about 10
pearls on them, but my stringer hates them so I send them out and
have to charge the customer shipping for both trips (I just pass on
the shipping charges without markup).

My opinion is, a realistic retailer knows good and well that a
competent pearl stringer with a reasonable turnarund time is not that
easy to find. I provide the service, but it’s almost a loss leader
for me. I don’t feel I can mark the charges up more than 100%, and I
often don’t do even that, but it’s good for customer relations
because these people are often buying other product from me. But we
give our customers excellent work, so I can’t exactly give it away. I
probably don’t do more than a half dozen pearl jobs a year, if that.
Mostly it’s a simple re-string on Beadalon with crimps and a lobster
clasp, and that’s a $15 job.

By the way (and you may not want to hear this), I can buy an 18" hank
of beautiful 8.5 millimeter pearls, allready strung and knotted
except for tying off the ends with French wire and adding a clasp,
for, get this, $139. They’re Chinese, not perfectly round, but close
enough that it takes a pretty good eye to tell. Nice thick nacre and
good luster and color. I believe these are from Akoya oysters.
Remember what a strand like that used to cost 20 years ago? Like
$1200.

Anyway, think it over and let us know where this goes for you, I’d
be interested.

David L. Huffman


#7

Well, if I were in your boots, I would tell him he can string all the
pearls he wants to for that $.50/inch… $2.00 per inch was the
standard going price YEARS ago so I would think that today it would
be higher. But $.50 per inch is NOT a fair price.

John Dach


#8
I've been charging $2 per inch wholesale for several years now and
have not had complaints from the stores 

I don’t know, Leslie - great way to start a post…! We use a really
good stringer when we need to. She worked at a major pearl supplier
for some years. I don’t know what it is per inch, but it seems she’s
charging something like your $2. $25 for a 16" strand, like that.
Certainly not 50 cents. She does a lot of work, so there’s a quantity
thing going on, no doubt. I wouldn’t string a 16" strand for ~eight
dollars~ (!) - that is, if I knew how. I’m no expert, but I’d say
stick to your guns… Fine stringing is worth a lot - we’ll happily
pay it, if it really is fine stringing. We also get problem solving
and experience with the deal.


#9

Around here your price would be somewhat higher than retail. If one
assumes keystone, I have a hard time imagining the public swallowing
$72 for a simple restring. At least, not that many of them.


#10

Hi all,

An interesting thread (pun not intended).

I’ve often felt that my prices don’t cover the time spent on
rethreading. An example would be a 50cm (20 inch) thread would cost
the client a little less than $20-. Deduct tax and cost of thread and
I get $15- for a string that I knot on the return (go through twice)
and have probably spent anywhere between one and three hours on
(don’t you love those strings where the holes aren’t uniform sizes?).
On top of threading I also pick up and deliver - delivery usually
within 3 days of collection. Fortunately I don’t have to make a
living out of rethreading but it fills in the time at night and
helps pay for tools etc for another activity.

I also don’t believe that the market would tolerate an increase to
$2- per inch wholesale (In place of “market” read “client”).

Thanks for the discussion,
Roger


#11

About 25 yrs ago, my wife and I did pearl stringing for for about
200 stores around the country, from Alaska to Florida. Nearly all
were just repair accounts but some were for new stock. One Indy based
chain would hand us boxes full of temporary strung pearl goods with a
list of what sizes, quantities they wanted, and we would have kinda
like quilting bees at our home with up to 5-6 trusted women. Between
Aug and November we would string a few thousand strands from 16 to
30", and a couple thousand more bracelets. We paid the women $4 for
bracelets(knotted), and up to $15 for 30 inch knotted, and we usually
were paid aprox keystone for that. In repair work we charged around
$8 for bracelets, and average $20 for 18-20". Most of these ladies
were relatives, one was my bosses wife, and they averaged 20 or so
hours a week. Several Zales stores sent repair work to as from all
over the country, and from what I saw on their repair envelopes, they
charged retail 4-6 time markup over our charge. Local independents
averaged a 2-3x markup.


#12

At the company I work for, we charge $2.00 per inch cost to the
stores and the stores charge $5.99 per inch retail for knotted pearl
restringing on silk.

Heather


#13

How & why did knotting pearls come to be anyway? Since I started
making jewelry in 2001, I have always wondered about that.

Suzanna


#14
I have a hard time imagining the public swallowing $72 for a simple
restring. 

I object to you using the word “simple” to restring pearls. If it
were “simple” the customer would not be bringing it to us. And yes,
the public pays $72 plus with no objection. My Mother in law paid
$110. to have her pearls restrung 30 years ago in little ole
Homestead Florida.


#15

I work in a busy custom/repair shop. We charge $2 per inch wholesale
and $6 per inch for standard pearl re-stringing. The price has been
the same for five years.

Hope this helps,
Allen in Denver


#16

Hi Suzanna,

How & why did knotting pearls come to be anyway? Since I started
making jewelry in 2001, I have always wondered about that. 

If not separated by the knots, pearls (and any other bead) will rub
against each other where they meet on the stringing material. Since
pearls are a natural organic material they’ll wear on each other &
the surface layer can be damaged. This damage may not be as great on
beads made from harder materials. By tying a knot in the stringing
material on each side of the pearl. it’s prevented from rubbing on (&
damaging) it’s neighbor.

A secondary benefit is that if the stringing material breaks & each
pearl is knotted on each side (2 knots between pearls), only one has
the potential for becoming lost. If there’s only 1 knot between 2
pearls & the stringing material breaks, 2 pearls can be lost. If
there are no knots, the entire string can be lost.

Dave


#17
$25 for a 16" strand, like that. Certainly not 50 cents. 

RETAIL runs $4 to $7 an inch, Minimum charges for a necklace is
typically $45 to $70.

And “swallowing” $70 is not too uncommon. Repairs are not price
sensitive, they are trust sensitive.

David Geller
jewelerprofit.com


#18
If one assumes keystone, I have a hard time imagining the public
swallowing $72 for a simple restring. OK, let's look at this
realistically; not with assumptions or gut feelings of what a
client might pay at the retail level. 

Let us say that on the wholesale level you are charging $60/hour for
your labor ($120.00 retail/keystone); that equates to $1.00 per
minute. Let’s also assume that efficiently knotting pearls will take
approximately 1 minute per 3 knots (not including set-up time
cutting the proper length of cord, un-stringing the original strand,
threading the needle if you are not using already needled/carded
silk, etc.). For 8 mm pearls (fairly standard size), there is
approximately 3.2 pearls per inch (un-knotted), that is approximately
3 pearls per inch knotted. Therefore your base charge should be
$0.333 per knot or $1,00 per inch. At 18" finished length That puts
you base price at $18.00 (or $1.00 per inch x 18 inches). Now add in
your time for set-up, clean up, and packaging/invoicing; you are very
efficient at only 5 minutes for that. At $60/hour that adds $5.00 to
your base charge making it $23.00 per 18 inch strand of 8 mm pearls (
or $1.28 per inch, labor only) charge. You used silk and a needle
(and perhaps French coil ends) so you now have materials charges to
mark-up and add to your base price. At approximately $0.15 cost I
would think you could safely triple mark that one even at the
wholesale level; so let’s add $0.45 to the base charge and make it be
$23.45 for that 18 inch strand. Do you have any overhead to cover
(insurance, heat/air conditioning, lights, tools to do the job,
building rent/mortgage, etc.); I am sure you do, so add in a
reasonable percentage for that; let’s be very conservative at only 1%
O.H.thus adding $0.24 to the $23.45 price, giving us $23.69 wholesale
for that 18 inch strand. $23.69/18 inches = $1.32 per inch (or $.44
per knot). Round it to 45 cents knot and you have a $1.35 per inch
charge. Not quite the $2.00 per inch, but certainly more that the
$1.00 per inch quoted in earlier responses. Calculate your charges on
your normal hourly charge. You might be surprised at how much you are
undercharging.

PS: roger beard wrote:

Fortunately I don't have to make a living out of rethreading but
it fills in the time at night 

Try to find a plumber, electrician, auto mechanic, etc. that
wouldn’t charge you time and a half for working after hours on your
jobs. That would make for an expensive re-stringing job ! :slight_smile:

Paul


#19

Hi David,

By the way (and you may not want to hear this), I can buy an 18"
hank of beautiful 8.5 millimeter pearls, allready strung and
knotted except for tying off the ends with French wire and adding a
clasp, for, get this, $139. They're Chinese, not perfectly round,
but close enough that it takes a pretty good eye to tell. 

Interesting post. Where are you getting these wonderful pearls?

Thank you.
Razine Wenneker


#20

Leslie - I did the pearl stringing for the local shop where I live -
I’ve been charging $1/inch, but they prefer knot cups. (When I
started contracting for them, I tried to charge $1.50/inch, but they
said to double my price would be prohibitive. Total BS, as I noticed
on the job envelopes they were charging $75 for restringing an 18"
necklace. Then again, they aren’t around anymore.)

I’d definitely charge more for the french bullion - it’s a pain! (If
you use the silk closest to the pearl hole diameter, you must drill
out the final 2 on each end. For that I’d add $5 to the total.) I’ve
seen stringing advertised at supply shops and schools from $1/inch to
$1.50/inch, but not higher - probably depends on the market.

Blessings,
Susan “Sam” Kaffine