Where to Sell Your Jewelry

with Jean Campbell

Taking the leap from making jewelry for your own enjoyment to selling it for income is something that crosses the minds of most jewelry makers. This leap, however, can be a scary one unless you're armed with good information and tips from others who have made the same leap. Besides selling online, wholesale and consignment jewelry selling is one of the strongest market opportunities for jewelry makers. You just have to find the small shop that matches your jewelry style. Think about the places you frequent that have jewelry for sale. You might be surprised. Dress shops are an obvious non-jewelry store venue, but museum gift shops, tourist venues, bridal shops, art galleries, small gift stores, beauty salons, barbershops (for the guys) and stationery stores sometimes offer local handmade jewelry, too.

How do I approach a shop?

First, inconspicuously visit the shop. Is it well-run? Do they seem to take care of their merchandise? What is the sense of style? Can you tell what's selling well? What's the general price of the other jewelry that's for sale? If you think your work would be a good fit and you'd be comfortable doing business with the shop, ask for a business card and try to find out the name of the person who makes the shop's purchases.

Next, prepare your work so you can make a cohesive presentation. Tag all your pieces with your company name and contact information. (A shop owner may decide to take these off before they put them in their shop, but it's good to have them with your work anyway.) Put together a complete and organized price list. Put all of your pieces in an attractive display case where your work can be quickly and easily accessed (no plastic baggies please!). Have a professional-looking business card ready and consider making a small brochure about your work.

Finally, make an appointment with the shop owner or buyer (walk-ins are a no-no!).

What happens once I'm at the appointment?

First and foremost, be sure you are on time, look good (wear some of your own pieces) and have everything you need with you. Once you've walked through the door of the shop you shouldn't need to run back out to your car, etc. You need to be very considerate of the person you're meeting with--they probably don't have a lot of time to meet with you--so you don't want to waste one minute!

The buyer will go through your things to decide if there's anything they'd like to buy or keep on consignment. As you watch them doing this, keep in mind that their main job is to run a profitable business, so they'll probably have very specific needs on the day you show up. Don't be hurt if they decide against carrying something you brought in--it may be that it's not exactly what they're looking for (much the same as you might feel when shoe-shopping for yourself).

Once they are finished and have decided to take some of your things, be sure to carefully note everything they've kept. It's especially important to keep track of this if you're selling on consignment so you don't lose track of your pieces, but it's also good to know what you'll need to restock if you're selling wholesale.

Important note: If you've left things on consignment, don't leave the shop without a signed consignment agreement--there are free templates on the Internet--that includes a reasonable end date (3 - 6 months is common) and payment schedule (monthly is best).

Before you leave, give the buyer your card, graciously thank them for their time, and let them know you'll check back from time to time to see if you can meet any of their jewelry needs.

These are great guidelines to follow. The key is to be prepared, professional and prompt!

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "Where to Sell Your Jewelry" as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

''Thank you for your article about how to approach a store to sell your jewelry. I am just about to do that for the first time so your article was very timely. Thanks again!"
- Kathy

"I would also add, make sure that your contract has a clause that reimburses you if things are stolen from their store; we have lost some of our favorite pieces to shoplifting and the store selling them did not give us compensation. Remember you are giving them a hefty commission to sell and take care of you creations. Also, be aware that some unscrupulous store owners will take pictures of your work and have them copied at a cheaper cost to them."
- Jo

"Your article was very informative. I tend to carry many items in the 'no, no' plastic baggies. Thanks for the pointers."
- Shirley

"Not everyone who designs and makes jewelry is female. Any suggestions for men. We can't wear our work, or for that matter, be taken very seriously.What could you suggest for men who are in this business? Most of the men I come across are making the very high end product. I on the other hand sell to the medium or low end. My venue has been local fairs, churches and schools.I received your email on how to sell jewelry and it was basically for women."
- Stan

Response to Stan:
Thank you for your comment, Stan! We will keep this in mind as we write upcoming articles. When packaging and marketing jewelry, the rules (other than wearing the pieces) apply to both men and women.

"I found the article 'Where to Sell Your Jewelry' by Jean Campbell to be very informative. However, being specific as far as items to bring to the interview, besides products and business cards would have been helpful ..."
- Harriott

"I have pieces on consignment with a shop owner in Newport, RI. She gives me a price range that she would have no problem selling and it has worked out great. She sells to a lot of tourists. It is really nice having your work out in view."
- Donna

"Feedback on the 'Where to sell your jewelry' article. I would have liked to see more ideas for this article. What about online venues? There are many people like me that don't know which may be a better option, if online, a consignment store, a hair salon, a jewelry store. So many options. A check sheet or a pros and cons sheet or things to look out for in those environments would be nice. Something that looks at fees too, what should you expect in fees if you are consigning or selling online? I know etsy.com (I believe) takes a percentage as does PayPal? Helping customers make informed decisions would be great! Would Fire Mountain Gems ever consider having a site where people could sell or a links section on their page to places where you can sell jewelry made with your products? Just a thought. Thanks!"
- Christie

"Loved the 'how to sell your jewelry' article. Short and to the point. Everyone needs to read this who wants to appear professional when dealing with galleries and shops. Excellent job."
- Mary

"Your article on 'where to sell jewelry' was quite lacking as far as the various venues to sell. Good info on selling wholesale to retailers, however, you left out many great venues such as home parties, art shows, holiday bazaars, internet, etc...Let me know if you would like me to write an article about one of these for you. Thanks."
- Lauri

"Great article on selling jewellery. I would like to add that in Australia, quite a lot of dress shops do sell some jewellery. They will offer you some to try on with your outfit. Not sure if it's the same in US. Many thanks for all the helpful tips you give on your site."
- Kaye

"Thank you so much for this article it was very informative. It can give you an uneasy feeling when you are out there trying to sell your product but, if you are prepared it takes away that feeling. Bottom line: BE PREPARED."
- Charlene

"Great for a basic article. How about some articles on merchandising ... labeling jewelry, table presentation, packaging, establishing an image and logo, and pricing for a professional price tag--not to just recover the cost of your beads so you can buy some more. We need jewelry designers to treat pricing/selling as a PROFITable business, not just something we do for fun at home!!! Your company has a lot of influence. Let's elevate the business."
- Ann

Response to Ann:
Thank you Ann! We appreciate suggestions for articles of interest. At this time, we currently offer articles on branding and packaging and creating marketing materials, as well as a variety of marketing answers in the Ask the Experts section that may be helpful.

"In regard to the article on 'Where to Sell Your Jewelry,' I felt this was valuable information that anyone who is considering selling the jewelry they make needs to know. I hope you can keep information of this nature coming out to those of us who are trying to decide whether or not to take that step and sell their jewelry outside of friend, family, etc. Best regards."
- Wanda