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.

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.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Reminder That My Shop is Going Green

I made an announcement on Facebook a few weeks ago and got several thumbs up that my handmade jewelry is now made of 100% recyclable silver and all my gemstones from reputable jewelery suppliers that have verified that none of their gems come from those horrid places where people are worked hard, in terrible conditions for no money and at risk of their lives. In other words, conflict free gemstones.

See this blog from my fellow Etsy metalsmith who wrote a paper for her college course on gemstone mining if you'd like more information.  http://thesquarepegnation.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-social-entrepreneurship-means-to.html

I thought I would clarify a few points just so everyone who purchases from me understands what this means to me and to them as buyers.

Well, it is important to me to make sure that I am not creating beautiful things at a cost to the environment. I have made changes in my purchasing and in my daily routine to keep All Wired Up Jewelry Designs as "green" as possible. This is a lot of hard work and research, I'm probably not all the way there yet, but it is my goal to be 100% by year end.

First and foremost, all my creations are made with reclaimed &recycled metals. Unfortunately the world of jewellery is full of "dirty" and non-earth conscious practices, and mining for new metals is one of them. Not only does metal mining produce huge amounts of environmental waste, but it leads to contaminated waterways and our precious earth. By using recycled and reclaimed metals, AWUJD is doing our part to keep the beauty of hand crafted jewelry, without the price to the environment.

In addition, I purchase my gemstones from ethical and reputable sources. I work directly with small stone businesses and family owned mines. I have developed a great relationship with these small business so that I get great stones at fair prices and know I am supporting U.S. business done without child labor, poor working conditions or stones obtained in any illegal manner.

My next step is to use up all my current packaging and go to 100% recycled for sending your lovely treasures!

So now you know that when you see this bracelet in my shop, it was from a reputable U.S. family owned business.

And when you see my cute gemstone sterling stacking rings in my shop, they were make with 100% recycled metal and fro conflict free gemstones! http://www.etsy.com/shop/PPennee?section_id=6791576

So, wear your AWUJD  jewelry  knowing that each pieces boasts the support of small business, comes from environmentally friendly materials and is entirely hand crafted by an artisan that is working hard to make both beautiful jewelry and a better environment.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm Part of an Awesome Team on Etsy

This is Sunday, and I promised myself I would blog at least several times a week. I also promised in my last blog to start highlighting some of my favorite artists. Today I'll start with a small group and at least once a month, with their permission, I'll give you some details about members of my awesome Aspiring Metals Team on Etsy.

As a group, we decided we wanted to get recognition as a team on Handmade Spark. Handmade Spark features lots of different crafts and artists, so the rule was, the team leader had to pick 10 photos of work that represents their team. No problem you say, lots of pretty shiny baubles to choose from. There are 200 members on our team!!! And they want 10 photos. I wouldn't have wanted to be Clarity of Scrollwork Designs this month for anything. You can see Clarity's work in her shop on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/Scrollworkdesigns .

 Well, she finally came up with 10- we blogged about it on our team blog, talked about on e-mail and here is a link to the Treasury Clarity created to show 10 great pieces of work out of 200 members :

We were all grateful she had to do the work and happy for those whose work represented the team. I was honored to be included with my sterling hammered cuff bracelet. I've been on the team since January 2009 when it began. Just so you know, the whole team is planning  a sale in January to celebrate our anniversary! Guess it will be a January white sale, you know, for those who got money for Christmas and not any of the really good presents they hinted for. This will be your big chance to score some great one of a kind jewelry at a great discount.

Not to be outdone, I am seriously considering sponsoring a give-away here on my blog to celebrate being back and in hopes of gaining a few more readers. With more readers, I'll be more inspired to do some actual posts on jewelry making techniques, jewelers tricks and best buys for those who want to start making their own shiny adornments.

Have a lovely Sunday and come back again next week. Next post will be my first on jewelry making start up needs and must haves.