by Dianne Linderman

Want to know a secret? The jewelry-making business is one of the most recession-proof businesses there is. When the economy goes into recession, people seek entertainment, but they also look for security by investing in items of value and beauty like art and jewelry.

When I was sixteen years old, I opened my own jewelry business, renting the front of a small thrift store to sell my handmade jewelry. My older brother built a wonderful workbench for me, and I set it up where the public could watch while I soldered. They were so impressed to see such a dedicated, young business owner that I became the darling of Ventura, California. Before their eyes, I created unique sterling silver settings adorned with stones like turquoise and malachite and arrays of semiprecious stones and beads. My clientele was extremely varied, ranging from the very rich to the very poor. I even had the opportunity to design and create custom belt buckles for the local Hell's Angels group (but that's a whole other story!).

While other girls my age were going to the mall looking for boys, I was driving my step-through red motor scooter to my own business every day! Although I did not think much of what it meant to be an entrepreneurial woman at that time, I truly understood and appreciated all of the incredible opportunities that came from my jewelry business. I was free to work 100 hours a week or just one hour a week, but the more time I put into it, the more money I made.

My nine-year-old brother and I also sold jewelry at craft fairs and small events in hotel lobbies, parks and other locations. My brother had such exquisite taste that (and this is the absolute truth) he was able to make as much as $900 in one day! I usually didn't make quite as much, but one time I did make $840 at a single event. This was a very addicting hobby and, needless to say, it turned into a great business.

Many people think it is difficult to rent a retail space, especially for a young person, but it's very simple. When I wanted to open my jewelry store, I began by searching for the best location, location, location, and then negotiated a very fair rent--all on my own. However, a landlord may require that a parent or guardian sign the rental agreement if you are under 21 years old.

These days, there are so many locations available that you can take your pick. To really make a good go, you must do your homework and find a location with a lot of walking traffic: near a movie theater, tourist attraction, or by a popular restaurant or mall. Don't be afraid to dicker over price and terms, and try not to sign a lease right away so that you can give yourself six months to a year to make sure your location will be profitable.

Although I rented a storefront location when I was a teenager, my favorite places to sell jewelry were the craft fairs and bazaars. These venues provide a great opportunity to be up close and personal with your customers. They are also great testing grounds for your designs. Also, you quickly learn which shows are busy and which shows have slower sales.

Today, the internet is another excellent vehicle for selling jewelry, and because of advances in technology, anyone is able to build a website or blog.

I truly believe that Americans are returning to the simple things in life and are valuing handmade crafts, homemade confections, and other items that are meaningful. With this in mind, I would like to inspire everyone who loves to create to start a small jewelry business in your home or garage. Eventually, you may expand to your own store or website. Whether you string beads or you're a silversmith, there will always be customers waiting for your beautiful jewelry.

In my future columns, I will be inspiring you with different ideas to make money in the jewelry business. You'll be surprised to find out how simple it is to add to your income. Until next time, start looking at other people's work, gather your ideas, and don't be afraid to fail. The worst that can happen is you'll end up with a beautiful, signature piece of jewelry handmade by you that will become a family heirloom!

Dianne Linderman talks about Everything That Matters... life, business, parenting and cooking. A counselor for troubled teens for 25 years, an award-winning author of children's books, and a serial entrepreneur owning everything from a nationally-renowned traveling petting zoo to a country gourmet restaurant, Dianne believes that in life we can have it all while keeping it simple.

Read more about Dianne at her website:

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "Jewelry-Making: A Most Recession-Proof Business," featured in a 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.

"That was a lovely and very inspirational story."
- Diana

"I read the article by Dianne Linderman. Are you really saying YOUR business (Fire Mtn) has not been affected by the recession? I find that hard to believe and think it borders on irresponsible to say just because it is beads or jewelry it is recession proof. This article makes it sound like a sure bet and is addressed to beginners who actually don't know any better. Gee, sounds too good to be true, so........"
- Jamie

"I think it is a wonderful idea to have someone with lots of years and types of experience, put their thoughts together and inspire others to try something new or just have the courage to keep putting effort into what they are already doing. I am glad to know that during a recession period, people actually look for jewelry they can consider an investment. That is encouraging. Thank you for your thoughts."
- Danielle

"Good late..evening- I found Dianne's beginning story very cool, I have been laid off for over a year now, and have made earrings and necklaces off and on for over 5 years. now. I have everyone saying things like "oh wow, that's so nice!" or "that's so beautiful," "why don't you turn that and your other crafts into a living." I find those compliments very uplifting and all, but I have so much doubt about whether it'll ever really work or just be another let down. Maybe as Dianne's columns are posted here I will learn what it is that will finally push me "over the edge"- Thanks for posting this column."
- Buck

"Very good article by Diane. Look forward to seeing more articles"
- Kim

"Just read the article by Dianne Linderman.

That's just what I needed to hear. I lost my Office Managers job last May, and have not been able to get another one so far. I have been selling seed beaded jewelry items and recently learn how to set natural gemstones. My Clients are for the most part in the same boat as myself, but some of them as well as my friends, seem to think that I should be giving them my pieces and the price is too high all of a sudden.

The depression I have been under has taken a strain on my ability to create jewelry I love. Dianne's message was right on time. Not only was the message about the jewelry business, it was an inspirational one as well. Thank you and her for putting it out there. I needed to hear someone say what I know in my heart to be true."
- Jackie

"This was one of the best articles on jewelry selling that I have ever read!! So very positive, and very simple advice... just get out there and do it? Please keep up these type of inspirational articles, they make the challenging days seem worth the struggle."
- Lisa

"I think this article is truly amazing. I make jewelry just for fun and friends, but this has been so inspiring, that I just may try to take it farther. Thank you Dianne. You are amazing!"
- Lane