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. In Part 5, Dr. Dave explains how (and why!) to boost sales by offering repair services.

Part 5: Offer Repairs

My mother once had a beaded necklace that broke as she stepped off a bus in downtown Philadelphia. She watched helplessly as the beads cascaded off the strand and down into a sewer grate into whatever lies beneath the sewer grates on 15th Street.

She thought the beads were irreplaceable, but I convinced her to let me send the necklace to a talented bead jewelry artist I knew. Although it wasn't possible to match the original gold-colored beads, the jewelry maker suggested similar beads my mother found she liked better. The repaired necklace was stronger than the original, my mother was delighted that she had her necklace back and the jewelry maker had a new fan for life!

That's one tale out of many I could tell about the bond created between artist and customer when a repair is made.

People often have strong emotional connections to the jewelry they own. The piece might be connected to a special occasion, a life-cycle event, a loved one or some other special memory. When a cherished piece is broken, the owner can feel a great sense of loss as well as some urgency around having it restored. Repair work is both technical (repairing the piece) and emotional (giving back something they felt was lost). When you restore a piece for someone, they will think of you every time they put it on.

How can you increase revenue through jewelry repair? One way is to charge for it. If you're not sure what to charge, ask local jewelry stores in your area what their price is for repairs and set your prices accordingly. You can also consider what you want as an hourly rate based on your skill. Whether you use an hourly rate or charge by the job, give the customer a simple written estimate in advance, even if it's a range.

Another way of handling repairs is to do them for free, charging only for the materials. How does that boost sales? Kathy, a jewelry maker in Maryland, said, "I am often asked to repair jewelry, sometimes even someone else's handmade jewelry. I do this at no charge, and it almost always results in a sale."

A customer will buy from you after a free repair because of "reciprocity," the concept that when you do a favor for someone, they desire or need to return the favor. People who give find they often get quite a bit back.

How should you market repair services? Make sure you mention repairs in all marketing materials, newsletters, on your website and in blog posts. You might even blog about a particularly tricky repair--one in which you went the extra mile to make a customer happy.

Also, include testimonials in your marketing materials from real people about the outstanding job you did restoring a cherished piece. Additionally, you can create a special event around repairs, like a home party that includes free repair of broken jewelry.

Finally, tell jewelry stores and the jewelry counters at local department store that you do repairs. You might be surprised at how many retailers "farm out" repairs and need extra help.

Aside from extra revenue from repair work itself, there are several ways it can help you sell more of your beaded jewelry. For example, a broken piece lets you see what kind of jewelry that person likes. You can learn about their style, what they buy, what they've received as gifts and more. That can help you make excellent recommendations on what the individual might like from your own beaded jewelry collections. Let customers who are waiting for repairs try on your pieces. You can continue to make the repairs while selling them something beautiful!

Whether you decide to charge or do it for free, promote it widely or just to select customers, offering repairs is an excellent way to increase revenue, meet new prospects and strengthen existing relationships. And you never know when a few beads that were lost in a sewer will turn into a real find: a new customer for you!

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' online Ask the Experts brings you design tips and information from jewelry-industry professionals. You'll find new question and answers on jewelry-making posted daily, so be sure to check back often for valuable information.

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:

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "Boost Your Beaded Jewelry Sales Part 5 - Offer Repairs," featured in the May 31, 2011 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. The article is quite thought provoking, and on a subject that had never entered my mind."
- Patricia

"I'd like to thank you for the email about offering repairs on jewelry making. I have offered that service when I make my jewelry. Now I know the way, and what I offer is not bad. If the customer has a piece of jewelry that they own and it's broke I tell them I can try to fix it and tell them the problem I may have getting the exact material I charge them only for the material and I go over the material (if it's not exactly like they had) to see if they like it or not. If they have a piece that I made I offer to repair it or adjust the length or tightness for nothing. If they have it so I can see why it broke so I can make any changes to make it stronger so it won't happen again. But if they say they lost it they will have to buy the replacement. I did have one person that told me they lost it and wanted a new one, I told that person that they will have to pay for it. They thought I was going to do it for free. They did pay for it, but then just ONE day after I sold him the new one the person found the one they lost. So I'm glad I did charge for the new one cause I would've been at a loss, of time, materials, and the cost it took me to get the materials. Thank you so much for the newsletter, at least now I'm doing it the right way. I look forward to getting more information that will help me on my jewelry making and selling. Thank you for your time. P.S. I also love buying my material from you, the costs are reasonable and sometimes awesome (sales) and the quality, quantity, and the variety. Your Inspired jewelry maker,"
- Ginger