Using Software to Price Your Jewelry

by Barbara van Look, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Pricing what you've created is--for many jewelry designers--the singular most frustrating part of the jewelry-making process.

Juggling a range of numbers, from material costs and inventories to time investment and taxes, can be problematic for the artistically minded. Why not get a pro to help you out: pick up software that does the calculations for you. Software not only helps you make sure you don't short change yourself when you price your designs, it also ensures your pricing stays consistent from piece to piece and marketplace to marketplace--even online marketplaces!

Here are some complicating factors to keep in mind when selecting your software:
  • Time
    Computer programmers used to say the problem with computers was "GIGO": Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you're putting inaccurate information in, you're only going to get inaccurate prices out.

    You can set up a number of ways to evaluate your time investment in your work. Will you price by complexity? By hours invested in the technique? Track your time so you can make those decisions. Once you do, add the most accurate information you have to your software.

    You'll also spend some time setting up the software. There's a bit of data entry you'll have to do--or hire somebody in your personal network to enter for you. (Some of them can be paid with jewelry. Or cookies.) Spend that time up front. You'll save it in buckets later.
  • Inventory
    These days, most pricing programs also let you track your inventory levels. Convenient, isn't it?

    When you create a new piece, you just enter a list of items that you used. Then the program tracks how many of each item you still have left. You'll know exactly when to order more! And if something's a hot, hot seller during the holidays? You'll already have ordered your replacement stock. No unhappy last-minute surprises, emergency replacements or scrambling through your tangled bins of stuff because you're absolutely sure you have just one more bag of those earwires left. (You don't.)

    Many types of pricing software also let you load images of the materials into your inventory database, so you can see at a glance what that particular bead or paddle pin looks like, and log which vendor it's from. Software also lets you track how much you paid for items (especially precious gold or silver) at the time you bought them--not how much they're worth right now. The effect that has on your prices is immeasurable and can mean the difference between a profit and a loss.
  • Gallery
    The flip side of keeping an image and pricing inventory of your components is that you can also keep a correlated gallery of the finished work they've gone into, along with the prices of each.

    Then, whether you're pricing at a boutique, trunk show or online, your pricing structure is accurate and consistent. You'll never be caught flat-footed by the question, "How much does it cost?" when someone wants you to remake an old design for them.

    You only need to say, "Let me look that up."
  • Sales
    One way to add to your bottom line--and to the complexity of your pricing system--is to have a sale.

    Some designers prefer to change their price tags before the event, so they don't have to do calculations on site. Others prefer to leave the tags as is, and calculate the pricing in the booth. Others will keep a database of the sale prices with them, but leave the tags marked to full price.

    Whichever method you choose, software like ''Jewelry Designer Manager PRO™'' CD customizable computer program makes those calculations easy.

So get ready. Get set. Annnndddd ... price!

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