Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pricing Designs - my two cents about components

On a Facebook group page there is a discussion about pricing (one of many discussions that are going on the different bead groups I belong to) that made me stop and decide to step out of the line of how or what to price what you make.

My last comment sums up stepping out of line

"One thing I strongly believe in is - price your items how you feel about them and are comfortable with. At the end of the day you're the one that needs to be able to look your customer in the eye and feel good about the sale and feel like your worth is important. Everyone here has different way in pricing, some use similar methods. But at the end of the day, if someone walks up to me and wants my piece and can only afford $20.00 and I feel this is who needs to have my piece, I will sell it to them for that. My pieces are my babies. I want them to go to a home that is going to take care of them, appreciate them and admire them. I want them to make the person feel special when they wear the design."

The next comment someone slams the lady for not using higher quality stuff and trying to sell it as higher price.  That is when I decided to really step out of the line and start this blog entry as well.

My comment response about the use of glass - mainly to support the original poster, her prices and comments about using what she had;

"I do agree with you 110% -- for example this necklace below; the most expensive parts are the vermeil beads and the clasp. EVERYTHING else was $2.00 or less. Including the very odd find center bead.  I didn't even have a price on this piece when I put it out at a show and a lady came by - said 'I will give you $200 for this'. I DROPPED MY JAW... She loved it. It was so different and so unusual to her she wanted it. Had I priced it the way I normally would, it would have been maybe $60.00. 

Costs of beads sometimes does play into the piece but doesn't mean lower quality beads distract from the pieces or should make the piece lower in cost automatically. 

I love glass beads. I love working with Firepolish, pressed glass, even wonky Indian glass (which is slightly heavier than most glass beads). The trick is to make it where someone loves it and wants it - no matter what the materials are."

The one thing I have learned is never judge a design by its material list.  I have made some down right impressive pieces that sold for a lot more than expected, because of the design, not the individual components.  I learned a long time ago, rebuilding jewelry from garage sales, GoodWill, Kmart, you can turn the most dullest, ugliest, cheapass components into amazing pieces if you just look at them as something that can be beautiful.

Another example - this was a fun contest, the Ugly bead contest.  You entered and a bead or three would be sent to you that you needed to design around.  

The honking blob of pearl was the ugly bead.  I actually like the bead.  Here's vintage silver-plated filigree beads, with glass pearls.  

Another one of my favorites is bargain bin diving - clearances especially Firemountain Gems. Here's an example of a design that actually prompted me to go find more coin Lapis with heavy matrix.  Again, cost wise - Pewter clasp, Pewter rondelles, fire polish rondelles, bargain bin Lapis coins probably Grade C- or even D by color and it is full of matrix- all very low.  But I saw something that was cool with them and made something cool with them.  And I sold it along with making two more like it and selling them.

Things I have learned when buying components like this;  

Buy at least two strands (especially bargain bin) three if you can afford it.  Sometimes it takes two strands to get enough non-chipped pieces to complete a design.  Don't be afraid to try bargain bin gemstones.

Invest in a small rock tumbler.  A not quite smooth set of stones become amazing just with a quick tumble and the right grit and polish in a tumbler.  Matte turns into shiny.  Shiny always looks cool.

Garage sales - never hesitate to look, find and snag.  Chain especially is always cool to help augment a design.  For example - this piece was fun to make.  I can't recall who bought it (bad me) but it sold over 9 years ago.  The center piece was a bunch of chain that I clamped together.

EBAY can become your very best friend for finding stash - older vintage pieces and stuff that if you like to create - you can go really out there with some designs from some of the stash you pick up.  People are always downgrading, leaving the field, getting rid of stuff they don't think they will use in their designs, pieces, broken necklaces, old stuff.  - Every so often I buy a box of these and see what I can make from it, to push my envelop on design.  

Invest where you can - when you can.  There are a ton of buy groups, co-ops, small groups of beaders who area pooling their resources to buy at whole sale or better prices.  - Facebook has a few, Etsy teams have a few, Yahoo groups have a few.  I'm not going to list them but if you do searches with keywords - wholesale, group buys, co-ops you will find them.  

Don't be intimidate to buy what you don't like, want or use.
I have seen some amazing and beautiful work with Steel, copper, brass, bronze, silver plated, gold plated, aluminum etc.  You don't have to put Swarovski crystals into your designs if you prefer the softer more gentle cuts of fire polish.  You don't need to use Sterling silver if you happen to like the look of Gunmetal, or gasp a really awesome looking bead that happens to be plated over plastic.

BE HONEST - when you list your materials list if you're selling on line.  But don't make it the priority to call out as the top way to describe your designs.

Lastly I leave you with a piece that is completely and utterly designed with nothing but beads I found in garage/thrift/ebay. (Very old piece)


  1. This is what I've been wanting to say but was hesitant. Thank you for expressing this so eloquently!

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words. There is a lot of things that need to be said, especially in regards to the snobbery that goes on in the bead community. Not everyone works with precious metals. Not everyone designs with gemstones. You design with what you like that speaks to you. I am thinking of hosting a contest where everyone gets the same components and you can add 1 component of your choice and see what people do with the stuff. I think it would really challenge a lot of folks who see that only high end materials are the only thing that can make beautiful pieces.