The Basics of Wholesale for Jewelry Makers

Buying beads in bulk

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Congratulations! If you’re looking into wholesale for jewelry making, then your small jewelry business is likely growing and you’re ready to expand into a bigger market. By offering a line of your jewelry wholesale to retail stores, you’ll become much better established in your craft. Here, we offer tips on how to sell your products wholesale to stores successfully and give you ideas on minimizing your production costs so there’s more money left for you!

Creating a Wholesale Line

The first step in selling wholesale as a jewelry maker is to select the pieces or collections that you think will sell the best. You’re going to want customers and other boutiques to recognize your brand, so when you’re putting together your list of wholesale jewelry items and prices (called a “line list”), it’s best to remove any pieces that don’t represent your signature style and expand your best pieces into collections with a variety of matching pieces (necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc.). Each piece will need a tag that includes your brand name, logo, and contact details. If you don’t already have a logo, now’s the perfect time to have one professionally designed!

The Price is Right

Next, you’ll need to set your wholesale prices. Understandably, these prices will need to be lower than the retail prices so that the shops can make money from sales too. How do you set a wholesale price so that you don’t end up missing out?

  • First, calculate the cost of materials for each piece of jewelry.
  • Second, multiply the length of time it takes you to make each piece by the labor costs – the amount you want to make, or the costs for any help you employ. For example, if you want to make $50 per hour and a piece takes you half an hour to make, then your labor costs for that piece are $25.
  • Third, add your profit margin. This could be anywhere from 5-100% but aim to add at least 30% of the costs+labor price as a profit margin to set your final wholesale price. The stores will at least double your wholesale jewelry-making production price to arrive at their final retail price, so divide the retail price of similar jewelry pieces and sets by two to see how your wholesale price compares with competitors. Then, increase the retail price of your direct sales to match the retail prices of your products in stores.

Here are the formulas for pricing:

Your wholesale price = Cost of materials + Time to make x Hourly rate + Profit margin

Your retail price = Wholesale price x 2 (approx)

Competitors’ wholesale price = Retail price ÷ 2 (approx)

Setting Your Terms

You will need to decide on minimum order amounts for your line, and your wholesale jewelry making business as a whole. Start by determining forms of payment, shipping options offered, and return policies, before you start contacting retailers.

For a minimum order, you can specify a base dollar amount (“orders over $500”), or number of pieces (“12 pieces minimum”). You can also require the buyer to include a certain number of a particular item (“a minimum of five dolphin charm bracelets”). The minimum order needs to be large enough to make it worth your while (avoiding unprofitable trips to the courier or post office), and small enough to be approachable for businesses. In general, having a higher minimum order tends to generate reorders, as buyers get a more complete idea of your style and are more likely to make a purchase.

Include your accepted forms of payment in your wholesale invoices (free templates here). To make it convenient for businesses to pay wholesale for your jewelry making, consider offering a range of payment options, like a credit card, PayPal, bank transfer, money order, and check. 

Shipping

For shipping, decide how far you are prepared to ship (statewide, nationally, or internationally), and find out how long it will take your product to reach its destination. It could be worth testing this out, as actual shipping times can vary greatly from what is claimed on postal and courier websites. You’ll also need to be prepared for dealing with returns of defective or damaged products.

How will you reimburse the store for their purchase and return shipping costs? Will you accept returns and return their money, or will you exchange the faulty item for a new/different one? Having answers to these questions will also help you to be better prepared for managing direct sales with clients on your website and at markets.

Making Your Wholesale Catalog Available to Retailers

To show retailers the items you are offering wholesale for your jewelry making business, start by preparing a “line sheet.” This is a list of your products, photos, descriptions, and prices. You can also include your business and contact details and terms of sale. Brand Boom offers a free line sheet template on its website. Print out your line sheet to send or hand out to potential retailers, and have a PDF version to attach to emails. Once a retailer wants to place an order, have an order form ready to give them.

An alternative to sending outline sheets is signing up with online wholesale for jewelry and craft-making websites that will sell your products for you. Some of these services charge a transaction fee for each sale (Etsy.com), while others charge a monthly fee for using their platform (IndieMe.com, Skue.co), with or without a once-off setup fee. If you have your own Shopify profile, you can use a third-party app to handle sales, such as Wholesale Hero.

Once you start dealing with other businesses (“business to business” or B2B), you’ll need to register for a business license and a seller’s permit. Having a business license means you and the retailers that are buying from you can claim business costs back on taxes and helps you keep track of your sales and earnings. A seller’s permit will allow you to buy some supplies tax-free and is often required if you want to buy bulk supplies at trade shows.

Keeping track of your business income and expenditure is essential for working out how profitable your current wholesale for jewelry making prices are, and for helping you find ways to improve your bottom line. File receipts and invoices in an orderly way, and keep track of which items are your best sellers so you can have more ready to go.

Creating a Prospect List of Potential Retailers

Now your products and paperwork are ready, it’s time to compile a “prospect list” of 50-100 potential retailers for your jewelry. Think about your ideal customer (your target market). Where do they live? Maybe they are concentrated in particular states or cities. Where do they shop? They might frequent galleries, museums, boutique stores, or other kinds of retail shops.

Google boutique jewelry stores in your chosen areas, or find them on Yelp.com. If you look on other jewelers’ websites, their lists of “stores that stock our brand” can give you some ideas. Try to pitch your wholesale jewelry line to retailers that sell complementary products, but not the jewelry line of your direct competition. You want to add to what they’re offering rather than doubling up.

In a spreadsheet, list all your potential retailers with their addresses, contact details, and the name of a contact person if possible. Email a personalized wholesale for jewelry-making pitch to each store, introducing your line and explaining why you think it would fit in well with their current products. It may seem like a lot of effort to go to, but this thorough approach is more likely to get retailers’ attention than a group email or non-specific letter.

Another way to approach retailers is to have a postcard made with pictures of your products and send this out to the retailers on your list with a personalized message. For your top-priority stores, send your line sheet or catalog along with the postcard.

Following Through

After you’ve put your wholesale jewelry-making catalogs out there, expect rejection and always act professionally. Once you have your first wholesale order, make sure you deliver your product on time, and in excellent condition. If there are any problems or issues, resolve them quickly and to the retailer’s satisfaction. Contact the retailer after a little while to find out how well your products are selling, and if there are any favorites.

Then follow up every now and again to offer further orders—without overdoing it. Stores that didn’t place an order but also didn’t say “it’s not for us” might simply not have had enough space on the shelf or room in their budget for your product at the time. Call or email them again after a few months to see if anything’s changed, and if they’re still not interested, move on.

Now that you know some of the basics of wholesale for jewelry making, we’ll give you some tips and ideas on how to buy your materials in bulk for lower costs and higher profits.

How Can You Lower Costs to Increase Your Profit Margin?

Most of your tools will probably be one-off purchases, so you typically can’t buy these wholesale for jewelry making. However, you can save some money on tools by buying a jewelry-making toolkit that includes the basics as a set and adding in other bits and pieces as you go. Hammers and stamps can be purchased in a set, depending on whether you want a specific combination or are happy to take the particular combination on offer and add to it later.

You can buy many of the regular components or “findings” that go into each piece in bulk, as well as metal flat sheets, chains, and beads. Be careful about buying everything wholesale for jewelry making, because there may be materials that are part of a specific piece or collection, or that you might never use again. Consider making wholesale orders together with other jewelers if you each need a small amount of the material and want to save on costs.

Sourcing Wholesale Jewelry Supplies Online

There are a number of companies that offer wholesale for jewelry making online, but you need to know what you’re looking for to avoid disappointment.

Which jewelry supplies can you buy online in bulk?

There are all sorts of findings and materials you can buy online, and it varies by company. You can find wire, chain, cord, string, metal sheets, beads, gemstones, charms, pendants, pendant cages, custom-stamped tags, and jewelry findings.

Is the company reputable?

When looking online to buy wholesale supplies for jewelry making, it’s best to choose large, reputable companies. Not only will your supplies be more likely to arrive, but you’re also more likely to receive the product exactly as it was described. You’ll also have a wider range to choose from and can avoid doubling-up on shipping costs with different companies.

When do you need it?

If you need supplies today for an urgent order, buying wholesale for jewelry making online is probably not going to fill the bill. Check shipping times and allow extra for unexpected delays so you don’t miss a production deadline. Be aware that local supplies could arrive faster than overseas supplies, but this is not guaranteed. If you’re in a rush, find out whether you can pay an express service or private courier for faster shipping.

Are you sure it’s the right item?

After you’ve found a reputable company and calculated shipping times, make sure that the item you’re purchasing wholesale for jewelry making is the right one. There’s nothing worse than waiting for your order in excited expectation, only to find that the “small” beads you ordered are three times smaller than what you imagined, and won’t fit on your wire. Measure, research, and read the description three times to make sure you know what you’re getting!

Trade Shows and Expos

Another option for sourcing wholesale for jewelry making is attending trade shows, events, and expos where jewelry supplies will be sold. Here, you can find specialty gemstones, minerals, and high-quality tools, as well as see other designers’ work. The advantage of going in person is that you can see and touch the products, and ask suppliers to tell you more about them.

Trade shows and expos are also great places to learn more about your craft and network with other jewelers. You never know where a new contact could lead! For upcoming jewelry shows in the United States, check out the events pages on intergem.com and TradeFairDates.com.

Look for gems and minerals at trade shows

Evaluating and Re-evaluating Your Sources

As you continue buying wholesale materials for jewelry making, you’ll start to find similar supplies that are cheaper, nicer, or arrive faster. Keep records of all your purchases (as well as the receipts, of course), and review your list of suppliers to keep updating your favorite sources and products.

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