Why is Handmade Jewelry So Expensive?

This is a question I get all the time! 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?

dryheadWell–let’s take a look.  This Dryhead Agate piece
is handmade from start to finish.  The stone was mined in the Western USA.  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.  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.

labradoriteWhen 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.  It is a connection that you cannot 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?

Brown Agate Necklace

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  • What gorgeous pieces! I love the way you set the silver to curve and hug these stones. Yes, people forget the unique beauty of handmade; that is why it is so important to seek it out!

    • Wow! Thanks for the compliment! I agree! I would so much rather have unique pieces in all forms of art:-)

  • I agree so much! You take great pride in your work, you should be compensated properly!

    I also wanted to congratulate you! I have nominated you for a Liebster award!
    http://missionchick.com/2015/10/liebster-award/

  • I think one of the biggest things that might not be fully thought about by customers is how much TIME it takes to make such pieces. Getting the surface to a mirror shine alone takes hours of work (especially if it’s unusual shapes)!

    Soldering itself is a massive time sink – even after surfaces are joined, you’ve then got to pickle off the flux, then carefully make sure there isn’t excess solder overflow outside of joints (and clean it if there is), and don’t even get people STARTED on firestain. And for every step you need to make sure it’s still clean, or it can get ingrained into the metal… Alternately, plate the lot with silver again at the end to hide it. But again, that takes time and is expensive (and may require a specialist metal plater).

    So, even disregarding the soul of a piece, there is often far more time spent in actually fabricating the piece than you might ever imagine.

  • Debi Biderman

    I make Jewelry. I don’t sell it any more because I became really tired of trying to justify what I considered to be a reasonable price for a one of a kind piece. I never make 2 of anything. Even after 20 years of making jewelry I don’t repeat a piece. I don’t shop in stores or even get beading magazines except for help with technical things. Why because I don’t want to make your Jewelry I want to create my own. So I don’t sell it and some day my poor daughter will inherit an awful amount of semi precious ,crystal and sterling silver and vermeil jewelry. I hope she doesn’t curse me too much.

    • I am sorry you became so discouraged. I think it is such a wonderful thing that you never duplicated your designs. I am hoping that this article and others, will help educate folks about what goes into a handmade piece. Maybe you can start creating again? I would love to see some of your designs!

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  • To me. . and I don’t make jewelry but I create with many mediums and tattoo, everyone wants to have the most detailed piece that I have screamed at, erased a million times (not including tatts here lol), or had to hyper focus so the ink stays in and doesn’t overlap another color where it shouldn’t (tatts), but they all only want to spend $20 or less. Well…I can’t give a bad ass skull that costs 150 when completed for only $20. Our time, as artists and jewelers, spent on creating something from nothing is worth the extra coin. Unless they’d like something unskilled that any trained monkey could put together with plastic beads like a 5 year old, I’ll be selling my stuff for what it’s worth. 🙂