Mimi and her girls

Mimi and her girls
Mimi and her girls

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Silver Prices and the Artisan Jewelry Market

Is there anyone out there that isn't feeling the brunt of the precious metals market prices? If you shop at a jewelry store, you've surely seen a huge jump in the price of gold and platinum, if you shop on line the discounts are getting smaller and smaller. For those of us in the hand crafted market, silver has always been our mainstay. Silver was more affordable, lovely to wear, and fairly easy to work with and create with. Over the last 6 months, silver supply costs have risen by almost 30%. Why? No one has been able to explain this to me to my satisfaction. I use 100% recycled silver- does it cost 30% more today to recycle than it did 6 months ago?? Probably no chance that is the case, but suppliers are taking full advantage of raising their costs based on the spot price of silver posted daily.

In hopes of maintaining my small hand crafted business, I decided to do a real cost analysis and find out just what it costs me to make for example, a sterling stack ring. Now, not all gemstones are created equally as we all know. A fine quality aquamarine or Brazilian amethyst costs lots more than a heat treated topaz to make a sky blue topaz stone. However, even some of the treated stones can get up there in cost. So I went through all my receipts for stones and silver, plugged them into a spreadsheet that looks at all my fixed (rent, electric, tools) and variable costs (silver, stones, mailers, accountant) and it calculates my cost for each item. To my surprise, I was right on in my "estimated costs" for lots of my artisan crafted products. To my chagrin, I was overpriced on quite a few of my rings. So, good shop owner that I am, http://www.etsy.com/shop/PPennee, I lowered quite a few of my prices by 10% or more on lots of my gemstone rings.
http://www.etsy.com/listing/54357922/sky-blue-topaz-sterling-stacking-ring

Now, I hope this makes lots of my customers really happy. Since I offer discounts on multiple ring purchases, this should make most everyone who has hesitated, reconsider a purchase that isn't for a special gift, but just something they'd love to have. On the other hand, will I be able to continue making these little pretties at this price if the cost of silver continues to skyrocket? I guess only time will tell, but let's hope we as artists can continue to provide our wonderful customers with the best possible quality at a fair and affordable price.

I have read several other blogs on this same subject, so I won't beat a dead horse. Many artists are rasing prices prior to the holidays because they're afraid they won't be able to afford to replace their stock of silver when holiday demands deplete their current inventory. What I am hoping is that I will break even, maybe even make a small profit and that these ridiculously high prices will eventually come down. Keep your fingers crossed for me and for those who have purchased from me or other artisans in the past, thank you for supporting the small businesses that try so very hard to offer you something special.