How the Pros Compare Prices

How the Pros Compare Prices
How do you know that you are getting the best bead prices at Fire Mountain Gems or other jewelry component sellers?

It is often quite difficult because:
  • Similar items often come in widely differing qualities
  • Suppliers 'bundle' their products in different package sizes--one may offer a pack of 12, the next has a package of 20. So, how do you compare?
  • Other valuable considerations include quality of packaging, speed/cost of shipping and reputation of the supplier.
Today we're going to talk about the first two considerations, quality and bundling.

The pros know that they can't compare every item from every supplier to see who has the best prices, so they select the items they use in quantity as a basis for comparison. The items that they choose are items that should be identical from every supplier. If they were shopping in a new supermarket, they might decide that double-A large eggs and the large cans of Alpo dog food are identical, in every store. They might compare these well-known items to get an initial idea of the pricing structure of each seller. Later on, they will compare in more detail.

In our field, one of the most commonly compared items is Swarovski beads, because of their great uniformity. Beaders know that a Swarovski 6mm bicone bead in crystal color, purchased from any reliable supplier, is identical--all you have to compare is the price.

Now, let's compare the price between suppliers. Because each supplier may load different quantities of beads into their packages, comparing the cost of each package gets us nowhere. What we need to do is to compare the cost per bead. If supplier 'A' sells a package of 12 beads for $2.25/dozen, supplier 'B' sells the same bead in a pack of 20 for $3.60 and supplier 'C' sells these beads in a pack of 24 for $2.78, how do you compare?

To compare their prices per bead, we just need to divide the cost of each package by the number of beads in each package. For supplier 'A', we would enter the cost of 2.25 into our calculator, hit the divide button (·/·) then enter the quantity of 12 and hit the equal button (=). The calculator should then show the cost of each bead: .019; that's $0.19 a bead or 19 cents a bead.

Let's do the same for each of our suppliers:

Supplier "A": $2.25/12= $0.19 a bead,

Supplier "B": $3.60/20= $0.18 a bead, and

Supplier "C": $2.78/24= $0.12 a bead.

Wow, that's a huge difference--let's buy from Supplier "C.''

Note: When comparing Fire Mountain's prices, you'll see four different prices. The one you choose depends on the total number of items in your complete order. This is mix and match, assortable pricing. For example, if you choose any 16 items, you would refer to the '15-49' price column to see your prices.


Just pick the price column that's right for the quantities that you buy and compare, using that price. That will give you the best overall prices, no matter how large a buyer that you are.

You know that Fire Mountain Gems and Beads wouldn't show beaders and jewelry makers how to compare prices, unless we were proud of how our prices work for you. But go ahead, prove it to yourself and compare our prices on the items that you use the most.

Customer Comments

Email Campaigns We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "How the Pros Compare Prices," 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.

"Thanks for the great article, and I am a smart shopper always try to get to the third level when buying from fire mountain!"
- Shelley

"I am a new beader who has retired from many years in the corporate working world and the cost of beading products was a mystery. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of figuring the cost but this really does help! Thanks for the clarification!"
- Charlie

"This was good information on pricing."
- Richard
"Excellent and helpful article. In auctions I often wonder whether the other bidders did any such figuring."
- Anonymous

"Very good--I do this for everything! Should be common sense, but always good to be reminded."
- Anonymous
"This is feedback to the article How Pros Compare Prices. You left out the shipping factor. That makes a huge difference, especially when having to add say $20 plus to the cost of a Swarovski order. I always divide my costs and price each bead. I have to also take into account exchange and customs. Those things certainly jack up the price per bead."
- Jeanne

"This e-mail is a response to your recent article on comparing bead pricing. The article seemed a bit superficial to me. It might have been more informative to state the obvious (comparing per-bead pricing when beads are packaged differently) and then discuss how you determine how many beads you will get per strand--especially since many of your beads are sold by the strand. For example, approximately how many 8mm beads would you get in a 16" strand? I would appreciate a quick and dirty chart that gives me approximate counts. You could even refer readers to your mm to inches conversion chart for additional info. What about discussing grade? It seems to me that another extremely important factor when determining pricing for stones is their grade. How about discussing base metals for plated beads/components? Is silver plated brass more or less expensive than silver plated copper? What about specialty beads or handmade metal beads? Is cloisonne usually more expensive than, say, a handmade metal bead? Here are many different ways to compare pricing of beads, and I think you could have delved deeper into the subject."
- Anonymous

"This resource was very helpful and educational. I liked it."
- Anonymous
"I applaud Fire Mountain for educating the customer and keep them in the know about this important information that can directly affect the pocket book. Keep it up :) please."
- Anonymous

"Your comparison pricing resource is perfect. I have been using your system to compare, and your prices come out to be the best for the products I keep in supply. I know the quality is great, so it's a no brainer for me. Thanks for all your help and great products."
- Christine

"This article is a great reminder tool to have on hand. I have learned so much and have been reminded in a wonderful fashion from your newsletter. I love reading about the artists!!!! I love that all the articles are available to me by creating a folder for all the newsletters. In the subject area I list what item I was most interested in the newsletter. That gives me a quick resource, it's wonderful that you also have an online directory filled with this information and more. I love your prices!!!! I love looking through the new booklets that I receive in the mail also. You folks have got it going on!!!!! Thanks for all the wonderful information!!! Keep it coming!!!!!"
- Anonymous

"Thank you so much for your article on price checking. That is the way that I have always done my checking - with a 4mm Swarovski bicone. I felt quite chuffed with myself when I read your article. Thank you so much - I really do get a lot of info from your site - and yes I just love it that your orders are PACKED WITH LOVE."
- Patricia

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