Jewelry Design Inventory--Part of Your Business Plan

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

Taking detailed pictures and including thorough lists of materials used doesn't sound very fun to the artistic jewelry-maker. It's the kind of paperwork most of the artistically minded loathe.

But ...

If you're making jewelry--even a few pieces--keeping these kinds of records can save you heartache, frustration and possibly even trouble with the taxman.

Jewelry Design Records (or, Your Inventory of Design Ideas)

What does that mean? It means keeping your version of the Gallery of Designs: a good picture of your piece (including the back or clasp separately if needed) and a materials or ingredients list that shows how many of each component you used in the piece. Make sure that list includes not only beads and findings, but also stringing materials, crimps and tools!

Most of all? Save your gallery files on the Internet.

You can email a spreadsheet to yourself or use free "cloud storage" such as Dropbox™ or Google Drive. What you choose doesn't matter--you'll be glad it's accessible from anywhere if you lose your paper files, computer or thumbdrive.

Use as a Catalog

Besides planning for the future, jewelry design records offer you a kind of pre-made catalog. You can easily show a list of designs you're willing or able to make for your customer, who may ask you to customize the look by using their birthstone or a clasp their elderly mom can open easily.

If you are really thorough, you can add the prices you paid for each item in your materials list and how much time it took to make the piece. That makes your pricing easy-peasy lemon-squeezy! When materials prices change, you'll be able to track what you originally paid for the component--not what you'd pay now. This improves your sales margins, as well!

Even if you're not making jewelry as a business person, this is still a good idea! Just think how low stress levels can be if a bride knows exactly what her jewelry will look like before she buys the gown (or vice versa). Some people just aren't visual--having a photo helps everyone stay on the same page.

Planning Ahead for Obstacles, Adversities and Even Disasters

Artists face obstacles every day. Some you can control (your recordkeeping, your organization of your space), while others are simply beyond your control (the IRS audits you, a fire destroys your workspace, a hurricane hits your city, etc.). One of the things that will save you heartache, frustration and possibly even trouble with the taxman is to keep these kinds of records of every design you've made.

When it comes to a business producing products (jewelry), having an image of those products will make it more clear that you are a legitimate business. Images let your auditor see what you've done; attaching the materials list makes it clear what you used in it (which shows there's no shenanigans going on with your supplies inventory). This is especially important when you're using A grade gemstones or precious metals!

Even if you're not in business (I'm only doing this for fun!), keeping a design database is a good idea. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados and wildfires can roll through your life with utter disregard. You can't control that--but you can plan for it. If you suffer a catastrophic loss of your supplies or finished jewelry, you'll be glad for these electronic copies stored on "the cloud"--the Internet. This is what you used, this is what you made, and this is what you lost. That allows you make insurance claims with greater accuracy. (Your insurance company may not appreciate this as much as you do.)

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