Why is Handmade Jewelry So Expensive?

If I can go to the “Department” Store, I can get a piece of nice jewelry for half the price!  Why should I buy something handmade? Poppy Jasper Necklace This is a question that can drive an artist to depression, but maybe it is a matter of changing perception!  So why buy handcrafted or handmade jewelry?

floral plume agateLet’s take a look.  This Floral Plume Agate piece is handmade from start to finish.  The stone was mined in the Turkey.  A miner sold the rough stone to a lapidary artist, who made it into a beautiful cabochon, finding the best part of the stone and creating this beauty.  I come along and purchased this stone from him, and I “dressed” it up using sterling silver.  The silver is purchased, then it is formed using techniques such as rolling, stamping, soldering, shaping and forming.

The silver is designed around this individual stone.  It is a one of a kind stone–not mass produced, and you cannot find the exact shape, color or design of this stone.  Therefore, the silver around it is also unique.  Your jewelry is NOT worn by anyone else.  Opal Ring

At the department store, the jewelry is designed by a jeweler, then most often sent overseas to be created, with stones that are mass produced, and the silver is molded by machine into a form, then filed, sanded and polished by skilled laborers.  No one cares about the jewelry they are making. And they are not making it for “you” a particular customer.

Silver Lace Jasper Necklace
When you purchase something handmade from start to finish, and it is something you like, it is something you can have that came from the soul of the artist.

Rhodochrosite Dangle earrings
It is a connection that youcannot get from a mass produced item.  In the case of my stone jewelry, it is the soul of 2 artists–the one who created the stone, and the one who created the silver dressing around the stone.

What is that worth it to you?

Bridewell stone Necklace

Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist whose main focus is to bring jewelry from nature to you.  She selects beautiful stone cabochons and sets them into sterling silver, focusing on bringing nature’s beauty into a wearable art jewelry form.  She also uses other materials such as glass, shells, and lab created stones and uses them for nature inspired theme jewelry.  All of her jewelry is handcrafted in her Connecticut art studio, and all pieces are one of a kind.  You can shop for her jewelry in her Etsy Shop.  You can also follow her latest news by liking her SilverSpiral Creations Facebook Page.  Find her on Instagram @SilverSpiral1, and Twitter @SilverSpiral1

Is HandCrafted Jewelry Becoming Obsolete?

With Computer Assisted Design and 3D Printers–Jewelry Design is changing—does this mean that jewelers can no longer make a living by creating their jewelry by hand?  Does this mean the end of brick and mortar jewelry stores?  The end of “Handcrafted?”

istock_000007676349_largeIn March, I attended the MJSA conference, which is a jewelry manufacturing show, where vendors demonstrate the latest and greatest  gadgets to make your jewelry.  They also had on site workshops and demonstrations.  It was here where a well regarded guru presenter told us that unless we learned CAD-CAM, we would never be able to make a living being a bench jeweler. (CAD-CAM is a jewelry design computer program that offers 3-D imaging in a very realistic form that looks like a photo of a real piece of jewelry).

He also said we would also need to invest in a 3-D Printer to create wax designs to send off to have cast–you can make one or thousands of the same design.  Wait—What????

Not only that, but he said jewelry stores will be obsolete.  Soon, most will buy jewelry on line or in big box stores.

Watercolor illustration of diamond crystals - seamless pattern

Watercolor illustration of diamond crystals – seamless pattern

WOW!  And the person sitting next to me confirmed that she closed her jewelry store in NY and she showed me her 3D designs–she sells her jewelry online in this way.  They looked like real pieces–and she said they don’t even exist—yet.  A customer would order it, and she would promise it to them in 3 weeks–it gets sent off to be cast, and a jeweler would then finish it off (polish, set the stone, and so forth).  

Wow again!  I sat there, very deflated.  I don’t want to do CAD CAM.  I don’t want to send a computer design, I want to hand design something–to create a piece of art by hand.  I want to take the sheet of metal, and saw, hammer, shape, form, file, sand, solder and manipulate the hell out of it, to come up with something different.

I can’t put my soul into a computer program.

I can’t put my soul into a computer program.  I can only put my soul in a piece that I worked from beginning to end.  I don’t want to make a thousand of the same thing.

peach1My pieces are far from perfect–they are not machined–but they have character.

And then the lightbulb

lightbulb2compr
came on over my head…My customer doesn’t want one of a thousand either.  My customer wants to be independent, wants to express, is organic, natural, wants art, and will search for the piece that matches her/his personality, mood and sense of style.

Maybe I will never be wealthy as a solo bench jeweler.  Maybe I will be among a shrinking group of jewelry artists who make pieces from beginning to end.  But what I will have is an artistic soul that will remain intact, and customers who treasure their pieces for what they are….

rings1Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist whose mission is to create wearable jewelry art from Nature’s most beautiful stones, sea glass, and artifacts.  She also creates glass art jewelry to emulate nature’s beauty.  Her website is SilverSpiral Creations