Pricing jewellery … continued

29 06 2012

Further to my previous post … a related issue is the inclusion of ‘manufactured’ versus ‘handmade’ components. The main argument being that including a manufactured component would inevitably reduce the price of the piece.

Typical components considered here include brooch pins, clasps, cufflink backs, chains … and just recently I found that even ready-made bezel settings can be bought! Of course there are lots and lots of components that can be bought… it’s just that I haven’t needed to look before.

If I bought a sterling silver manufactured 20mm bezel ‘cup’ it would cost less than $5 … but the time it takes me to make, even if I only charged $20 an hour, would be way more than that.

At RMIT we were instructed NOT to include any manufactured components in our pieces. Naturally, we were there to learn how to make and knowing how to make such components was important.

I very much doubt anyone would consider including a manufactured component in an exhibition piece – but where is the balance for ‘production’ pieces?

What are your thoughts??



Also, I’ve had lots of people reading my previous post, thank you so much! But not many readers have contributed to the survey. Please please please do vote and indicate what you charge for your hourly rate. (Sorry to international readers, but this is only in AUS$ … other dollars will confuse the results!!)

It is so interesting to everyone, especially to emerging jewellers. I cannot see who votes for what – so your privacy is totally assured!

Thank you so much to those who have contributed to the survey. The results are fascinating so far. There seems to me to be a pretty obvious split – I wonder if that’s emerging versus experienced jewellers, or full-time makers versus those who supplement their income with other work… so interesting.

And if you want to see the results, just click on “View Results” at the bottom of the survey. Please do let me know if you’ve experienced any troubles.


Pricing handmade jewellery

27 06 2012

I’ve been considering how to price my jewellery recently.

So the formula I’m using is:

  • Wholesale price =
    time * cost per time + materials cost + ‘fluff’ (contribution to overheads)
  • Retail price =
    wholesale price + gallery commission + GST

A quick note for buyers of handmade jewellery: if the wholesale price a maker needs to charge to break even is $315:

  • if commission is 30%, then retail price is $500 ($50 GST and $135 commission)
  • if commission is 50%, then retail price is $700 ($70 GST and $315 commission)

To an inexperienced eye the retail numbers may look quite high compare to the artist wholesale price – but there is a lot retail spaces and galleries do to support makers. This isn’t the focus of my post though …

What I do what to ask about is what makes a reasonable ‘hourly rate‘?

The minimum wage in Australia is $15.51 per hour (pre-tax; link); so that’s obviously the absolute minimum (especially considering someone working on the minimum wage is paid for every hour they work … and it’s most unlikely this is the case for makers).

Say a ring takes three hours to make entirely by hand (not cast and no pre-manufactured components etc), and materials cost $50, and say a nominal contribution to overheads (‘fluff’) is $20 per piece. So:

  • if hourly rate is $25, then wholesale is $145, and retail at 50% commission is $322
  • if hourly rate is $30, then wholesale is $160, and retail at 50% commission is $355
  • if hourly rate is $35, then wholesale is $175, and retail at 50% commission is $389
  • if hourly rate is $40, then wholesale is $190, and retail at 50% commission is $422

The differences here are not especially significant to the maker, though the $100 difference in retail price may be the difference between a buyer wanting to spend the money on that piece.

It becomes even more fraught for the maker if we consider the more complicated pieces that take many many hours of making; especially those made for exhibitions.

For example, I’ve just made a piece that took me over 15 hours of work. None of that time was wasted, it wasn’t exploratory or failed attempts (which one wouldn’t add to the time total anyway!) … it was all legitimate hard work using skills I’ve spent years learning and practicing. If I decided time cost was $25 per hour then the wholesale price would be $445 (as above, say materials are $50 and ‘fluff’ is $20 again) and the retail (at 50% commission) $989; if I decided time cost was $35 per hour, the wholesale price would be $595 and retail $1322. Big difference to a potential purchaser.

Surely a maker has a reasonable right to expect more than minimum wage yes?
Further, I’m pretty darn sure painters have a reasonable hourly wage yes?
My mowing man charges $50 for half an hour…

Even further, if we were to ask someone else to do this work for us, we’d need to pay them (we may do things for free for our work, but someone else won’t work for us for free!) – wouldn’t we expect to pay more than minimum for these skills?
If a maker is self-employed, there’s ‘superannuation’ and insurance etc. to consider.

I sometimes wonder if many makers undervalue their worth and price themselves too low….

Would you help me?
If you’re a contemporary jewellery maker, would you (anonymously) tell me approximately what you include in your wholesale prices as your ‘hourly rate’? As always, comments are more than welcome!

Update (3rd July): if you cannot see the survey here, it is likely to be showing in the updated post; actually, this wasn’t on purpose! this is my first time using polls, and it seems that if I copy it into another post it may actually move it if you happen to have both stories open at once (to prevent duplication issues I expect) … it’s still a mystery at this point.

PS. for beginners, a couple of interesting posts on pricing handmade objects and things to consider: here, here, here, here.


Update (1st July): please do take some time to look at the comments on this post; it’s wonderful so many have taken time to contribute


Blog roundup

25 06 2012

A little wander around the interwebs:

  • Amy Robson has had some magnificent exposure with a celebrity snapped wearing her rings [link1, link2]; many thanks to Nina for the tip!
  • Caz Guiney shares some beautiful collages [link]
  • Claire McArdle shares some excellent photos from her Sydney ‘Public Displays of Attention’ exhibition [link]
  • I love the photos of Elisa Shehan’s assessment … evocative indeed [link]
  • Esther also posts photos of her assessment [link]
  • loving Melanie Young’s work for ‘Once More With Love’ [link]
  • new jewellery crush: Sarah Heyward’s Galaxy earrings [link]

Not strictly jewellery, but so inspiring:

Happy reading!


23 06 2012


Making stuff.

Making makings … and stuff.

sneak peek; image not to be reproduced without permission

Having so much fun making.


21 06 2012

Winter solstice is today, 21st June 2012 at 9:09am AEST.

It’s one of my favourite dates, as it signals that the daylight hours will be increasing. Though it is the longest night of the year.

There are so many fascinating rituals attached to this astronomical event – see the wiki page.

It is noticeable that most of these are relating to the Northern Hemisphere (the older pagan/celtic ones considered to have been ‘appropriated’ by Christianity to tell the story of the birth of Jesus); with only New Zealand and South American cultures featuring from the Southern Hemisphere.

I went searching for information about whether there is a dreaming story about the Winter solstice from the Aboriginal culture. I found a very interesting blog post on Australian Aboriginal Astronomy about a stone circle in Victoria that indicates a possible link to tracking the equinoxes and solstices; it has some great images, so check it out here; this story from the same blog is fabulous too. It is evident that accurate observations were made by many Aboriginal groups; though I haven’t been able to find any stories or rituals attached to it … does anyone know more?

I wanted to a cool picture to add to this post … but couldn’t find one I liked … except the below one from BOM, it’s rare to find one with Australia as the focus!

from the BOM; click on link for original source


20 06 2012

So, I’ve been thinking …

A jeweller (usually) makes jewellery.
A ceramicist makes ceramics.
A weaver makes weavings.
A painter (usually) makes paintings.

I prefer to call myself a “maker” … if I’m pressed to identify with some kind of label.

What does that mean the things I make are called?

“Hello my name is Karen and I am a maker. This is (arm sweep) one of my makings.”
… Not bad; I don’t mind it at all.

My piece for ‘The Year was 2006’

19 06 2012

How could I not get involved in the ‘The Year was 2006’ exhibition – the concept was fabulous and all I had to do was select a piece from my third year at university to send.

The piece I sent is ‘Exhibit #2: Quilted Fragment, Brooch, White

Exhibit #2; not to be reproduced without permission

Materials: fine silver, sterling silver, stainless steel, paint
Measurements: 80 x 55 x 10mm
Year: 2006

This was part of the collection I made in my final project for Year 3, Semester 2. There is a pretty long back-story, which I’ll share when I write about this work (in time!).

The Year was 2006‘ is at Studio 20/17 from 19th-30th June 2012.