Why is handmade jewellery so expensive??!
As an advocate of handmade and someone who makes handmade jewellery I so often hear “the jewellery is lovely, it’s really unique but why is it so expensive” or ”what a rip off” and “it’s just too much” many, many other comments like this. Truthfully, I used to be like this, until I started making it as a business myself.
So here it is from my perspective as a designer running an independent small handmade jewellery business and I hope it helps you understand.
When you purchase a handmade item you are for the most part purchasing a higher quality piece than if you buy mass-produced. Ok sometimes, like in anything, you may well come across a handmade piece that has been poorly made, maybe it has been rushed or made by someone still learning – it can happen.
But back to the point, Usually the finest material is used in handmade jewellery - high quality stones and stringing material such leather or silk rather than cheap materials - I know that I certainly take pride in what I make and couldn’t conceive of using anything other than the best materials and doing anything other than the best job I am able to. With this in mind you know that handmade jewellery will last a long time and certainly a lot longer than mass-produced items made using cheaper materials. I can recount plenty of stories of stones falling off, or chain links breaking back when I used to buy mass –produced jewellery. BUT this also means that the cost of materials for a handmade is going to make it more expensive, it simply costs more to buy the finest materials.
It seems an easier choice to me then when you think ‘shall I pay £12 several times or £80 once for a handmade piece’ that will last…but onwards.
Cost of Materials
Using high quality materials then makes the items more expensive in itself as I mentioned, so it has to be sold for more. It might cost £20 for material for a handmade piece where it costs just £10 for a mass produced items. Now you might be thinking ok so the handmade piece should then sell for £20 but there’s more so read on…
Handmade jewellery is just that…made by hand. Every little detail, each items designed, drawn out and scaled, every single one sawed
out by hand, shaped and textured, each tiny wire delicately bent into place, every layer of enamel laid down and fired one by one, each piece filed and shaped, polished, re-fired until it is perfect. This paragraph is really too short to justify the amount of hours that are spent in designing, scaling - throwing out of the window (every creative process goes through this), re-designing and then the transferring to metal, cutting, shaping enamelling…you get the picture right? So the time it takes to make handmade jewellery is longer…
Since the time it takes to make handmade jewellery is longer then as the saying goes ‘time is money’. After all this is still a business, I need to pay a wage to myself, to staff (and I can tell you it’s a lot lower than you think). Did you know ‘Labour’ is usually one of the highest costs if not the highest costs for a business? So I have to pay myself or my staff for more hours.
This doesn’t mean like every business I don’t try and cut costs but it will always be more for handmade jewellery. I don’t have machines that can cut out 20 pieces in the time it takes me to cut out 4, it takes hours to lay down and fire enamels piece by piece. I could really fill several pages on this but I won’t for your sanity and mine! But as you can see there isn’t or shouldn’t be a comparison between handmade and mass-produced. So far then the materials cost more, the time it takes to make the jewellery is longer.
Behind the scenes
I hate to harp on…. but aside from making the jewellery there is photographing it, adding to the website, writing the content, marketing the business, buying supplies, managing the emails, designing marketing materials, taking inventory, managing the accounts (Oh joy), buying new tools. And then of course there are the Overheads – Gas, electricity, internet, printing, business supplies. Are you tired yet?
Much of this has to be added to the cost of the jewellery (as percentage of it anyway), this is how all businesses run. And a lot of this you won’t actually see so it isn’t obvious, but it can make or break a business.
Uniqueness and individuality
I used to baulk at the idea of ‘Wearable Art’ until I started doing this. But it IS just that, the designs have come from the artists, our creativity and pride is infused in every detail of a piece. Our care and attention shows in the craftsmanship of a piece. We all have stories to tell, why we make, what inspires us, we take you on a journey, we give you an experience not just a piece of jewellery.
And we are always trying to perfect and improve because we care about what we make and sell, what our customers think and feel, we really do want you to feel unique and special (I’ll tell you a secret, it makes us feel unique and special in return).
Now you could go and buy jewellery at a department store but how unique is it really when there are a 100 of them?
Personally I strive to be as different from everyone else as I can (no offense!), I value my individuality and to me handmade gives me just that. I try to buy and support handmade as often as I can wherever I am – I finally get it.
Now you could say yes but this is just my opinion and you would be right, but then buying jewellery like buying anything else is subjective and it is of course your choice!
Although I have digressed at times during this blog it has only been to make the point as to why handmade jewellery is more expensive, I am hopeful thatafter reading this you will have a little more insight. It is more expensive because of everything I have written, our materials cost more but then you are getting the best and something that will last. That very uniqueness that attracts you to a piece of jewellery wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the creativity of the artist. The time it takes to make a piece by hand is so much longer but then you get quality craftsmanship you wouldn’t get on a mass-produced piece.