Boost Your Beaded Jewelry Sales Part 4: Take Custom Orders

Boost Your Beaded Jewelry Sales Part 4: Take Custom Orders

By Dr. David A. Weiman, Ask the Experts' Jewelry Marketing and Sales Coordinator
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

''How do I sell more of my handcrafted jewelry?'' is a frequently asked question online at Fire Mountain Gems Ask the Experts. David Weiman, Ask the Experts jewelry marketing and sales coordinator, has created a 5-part series to help address this popular topic. Here is Part 4 on boosting your beaded jewelry sales.

Part 4: Take Custom Orders

Several years ago, I was at a gem show in Tucson when a jewelry maker showed me a blank check he was given by a customer. It was to buy three stones for a custom piece of jewelry she had ordered from him. Imagine how much she trusted him to provide a blank check! That's when I became interested in custom orders and the special connection they create between buyers and jewelry makers.

Customers take pride in saying they ''know'' the jeweler

How can you develop that type of relationship?
First, it's important to understand that buyers love personal contact with jewelry artists. Jewelry customers take pride in saying they ''know'' the jeweler who made the piece they're wearing that others admire and ask about. Buyers like commissioning a piece, because it gives them an even more interesting and compelling story to tell: they were involved in creating the jewelry.

Designing a commissioned piece gives you the chance to learn more about a client than you typically would. You will learn what colors, materials, shapes and types of jewelry they like. You will also learn how they use jewelry to accessorize, where they wear it and how they feel when they do. Do they play tennis? Where have they traveled? What restaurants do they enjoy, and why?

Knowing these important details makes you a more savvy seller. For example, you'll have a reason to contact them about new pieces that contain elements or themes you know they prefer. Over time, their high degree of comfort with you will translate into more trust in your jewelry, your knowledge, your opinion and your business ethics.

How should you promote custom work?
A marketing piece that explains what it is and how to contact you can be distributed wherever you sell face-to-face. On your website, include a link for ''custom orders.'' If you sell through galleries or stores, mention custom work on the marketing literature accompanying your jewelry.

What about pricing?
The cost of a custom-made piece should be determined in advance and is typically much higher than pre-made pieces. (If the piece depends on the availability of certain beads or other materials, make sure you confirm the price of those elements as soon as possible.) Customers expect to pay a premium for custom-designed jewelry, and you should feel good about the opportunity to provide them with this unique service.

How can you create an effective arrangement?
Write up the steps in clear language. Steps might include initial discussions, sketches, agreement on a final design and delivery of the finished piece. Consider partial payments at each stage instead of billing everything at the end. Partial payments assure mutual commitment and satisfaction with each step. Include a statement about what happens if either of you wish to discontinue the process. Review it with the prospective customer. Both of you should sign it.

Creating custom jewelry is an excellent way to strengthen your connection with key clients. It's the highest level of trust you can have with a buyer. And if you handle that relationship well, you might be shopping the Tucson gem shows one day with a nice blank check.

Additional Resources: Dr. David Weiman is a respected expert in the field of marketing and selling handcrafted jewelry and a well-read contributor to Fire Mountain Gems and Beads "Ask the Experts". He is the author of Introduction to Marketing and Selling Jewelry, The Jewelry Selling Answer Book and The 5 Keys to Selling Handcrafted Jewelry (all available through Fire Mountain Gems and Beads). A free newsletter on selling handmade jewelry is available at his website: