Recently heard in a conversation with a metalsmith: “The cost of precious metals is so high now. I can’t increase my prices to accommodate this, and still sell my work. It’s wrecking my business!”
This is a front and center issue for many jewelry artists who use silver and gold in their designs. Sometimes, and with good reason, they feel they cannot raise their prices significantly and keep their audience. Caught in the middle, they end up searching for answers.
Even though precious metal prices have recently dipped, there is no guarantee that they won’t skyrocket again, and this can wreak havoc on prices. Quite frequently, artists using silver and gold cannot even post prices for their designs – they must be quoted depending on the price of metals that week.
Additionally, these artists are facing a public that goes into “sticker shock” when considering a purchase.
What’s the solution? Here are a few strategies that jewelry artists have come up with:
1. Create a “petite line” of your collection. Scale down your bestsellers into smaller versions, thus saving on the amount of metal in each piece, while keeping your prices steady.
2. Use more non-metal components in each design. Stones and other elements made of various non-metal materials, or even found objects, can be incorporated into pieces of jewelry to control the amount of precious metals.
3. Replace silver and gold with other metals. Copper, titanium, steel, brass and white bronze are some of those options. There are drawbacks to every metal, but consider whether these alternatives would appeal to your current ideal customer.
4. Embrace the high-end prices of gold and silver, and cultivate customers who can easily afford the more expensive metals without concern. There will always be an audience for fine jewelry. If your current customer base isn’t buying, and you want to stay with high-end materials, you will need to market your work to a more affluent buyer.
As always with handmade art and craft, building value into each piece is crucial. Customers are buying your talent and creativity, not just a piece of jewelry to wear or to give. Use smart strategies such as branding your collection as luxurious, using advertising and photos on your site which convey the type of lifestyle your customers lead, and presenting and packaging your designs appropriately.
Have you been successful with jewelry sales despite the high prices of precious metals? How did you do it?