I get orders for jewelry, but I have gone thru a troublesome economic situation. How could I keep my customers satisfied? Shall I ask for a payment in order to purchase the materials then charge the rest as labor work and expenses?
If you're talking about finished pieces, then it would be customary to be paid at the time of the order. If you're talking about a custom order that you will be creating just for that client, you should feel comfortable creating an arrangement where the customer pays a deposit in advance which would help cover materials (or other costs). For example, you could ask for a third at the time of the order, a third at the time the customer approves the design (not the actual piece) and a third and final payment when the piece is delivered. That step-wise process will protect you from a loss in the event of a canceled order, and it gives the customer "skin in the game" so they are committed to the process. If you do create that kind of arrangement, it should be in writing and signed by both you and the client in advance to confirm mutual agreement.