Why does Handmade jewellery cost more than jewellery from the Highstreet?
The cost of handmade jewellery
I often get enquiries from potential customers who have seen something online that they would like handmade. However they don’t want to pay the online or highstreet price and think that getting it handmade would be cheaper. It’s actually often more expensive to get a special, bespoke piece, individually handmade.
But why can be handmade more expensive than buying a ready made piece online or from the highstreet?
Firstly the online or highstreet stores buy in bulk so they save money. Many of them outsource the production abroad so don’t pay high wages. The pieces are cast/mass produced/produced in multiples, so each piece will be exactly the same, with no individual character and is cheaper to produce. The stores will have lots of the same piece in stock but the jeweller will have to individually handmake that piece for you.
When you ask a designer to handmake a bespoke piece of jewellery, you will get a completely unique piece of jewellery made to your own specifications. It will not be the exact same as the other 20 or more pieces that are in the store. It can have a different type or shape of ring shank, as well a different sizes and quality of stones. If it’s a professional designer, they will have went through at least 4 years of college or art school to learn the specialist trade skills and gain qualifications, in order to make the custom piece of jewellery for you. They may have a Bachelor of Design or Art Honors degree. They will have to source specific materials and stones for your bespoke commission, which they will take time to do before even making the piece. They will be paying a higher price for materials as they are not buying them in bulk.
What people forget is that designers, artists and makers are skilled professionals and they should be paid like a conventional, professional employee. You yourself, will be in a specific profession and you get an annual salary or you pay yourself a good hourly rate of pay.
When it comes to the creative, CRAFT sector, some people don’t value the beauty, individuality and craftsmanship of handmade products. The word Craft falls into different mindsets, from hobbyist fairs where people just do it for fun in their spare time, to the professionally trained creatives who run a specialist practice and are trying to earn a living.
Over the past few years CRAFT’s profile has been raised for the better, this is due to work that the Crafts Council, The Scottish Artist Union (SAU) and Craft Scotland have been doing to promote the Added Value of Handmade and the skills of the creatives.
Most designers struggle to run their practices full time and need to mix it with working part time. We never tend to pay ourselves a proper salary or reasonable rate of pay. So when someone questions our pricing or says that a piece is really expensive, the creative person has barely paid themselves a minimum wage to make that piece. Above are the rates of pay that artists should be looking to pay themselves. Below shows how (a) the recommended artist rate is compared to a conventional employee hour rate (b).
So remember designers, makers, artists or craftspeople are trained, professional, skilled workers and deserve to be paid for their time.
I hope this blog makes you re-think about the cost of handmade products and helps you to understand why Handmade can be more expensive than the Online or Highstreet stores.
To find out more or to commission your own piece of jewellery, get in touch with Genna.
Thanks for reading x
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