Perhaps you couldn’t find that perfect piece of jewelry for sale in a store, or maybe you wanted to use your creativity and craft a bracelet featuring a unique medley of colors. Whatever the reason, if you’ve tried and enjoyed making jewelry, you might be looking at the beginning of an exciting business. Starting a jewelry making business of your own will allow you to share your talents and ideas with others, and it’s even a business that you can start up in your spare time, right out of your home.
Jewelry making businesses put creativity and an eye for design to work to create unique jewelry pieces and lines. Jewelry makers may work with many different mediums, including precious metals and stones, as well as more affordable supplies that can be found at local bead and craft shops. With jewelry available at many different price points, it’s possible for a jewelry maker to start off with more affordable materials before progressing to higher-end jewelry and supplies.
A talented jewelry designer can build up a loyal customer base with effective marketing. Many jewelry makers sell their products directly to consumers through venues like craft fairs and through online platforms like Etsy. Some jewelry makers may choose to wholesale their products to retailers, allowing them to focus entirely on production instead of customer sales.
According to IBIS World, the jewelry manufacturing industry experienced a 3.2% decline from 2015 to 2020. As of 2020, the jewelry manufacturing market was a $7 billion market, with 1,873 businesses in operation. Those businesses employed 22,341 staff. The industry’s decline was closely correlated with increasing gold prices. As gold prices and demand increase, some customers are priced out of the market, leading to a decline in sales for manufacturers.
IBIS World predicts that the industry will experience marginal growth from 2020 to 2025. Weakened gold prices will partially contribute to the industry’s growth. Gold is predicted to fall in price throughout most of that five-year period, suggesting that the market will recover and start to grow again.
Tiffany & Co., Jostens, Inc., and Richline Group, Inc. own the largest share of the market, but there’s also plenty of opportunity for smaller, independent jewelry makers.
The jewelry making industry is subjected to many different trends, including the types of jewelry and materials that are most popular at any time. Even how consumers are buying jewelry is evolving. According to Matter of Form, consumers shop for jewelry online more often, and thanks to increased confidence, they’re more likely to purchase high-ticket items online than they were five years previously. Specialist jewelers and brands need to work harder to stand out from the competition, especially with reduced foot traffic to stores.
Customization and commissions have increased in popularity. Many consumers have begun repurposing family heirloom jewelry, having the pieces reworked into meaningful pieces. Other buyers want to design a brand-new piece to have something that’s unique and one-of-a-kind.
The demi-fine jewelry category has also grown in recent years. Lying between costume jewelry and fine jewelry, this category is more accessible because it doesn’t carry the high price of fine jewelry. Demi-fine pieces are made with precious metals and precious or semi-precious stones and reflect contemporary design trends. Demi-fine pieces are ideal for the ecommerce industry, and these entry-level pieces can serve as a connection point for stores to bring in new customers.
According to Eluxe Magazine, sustainability is increasingly important to jewelry buyers. Natural materials including shell, stone, glass, straw, and wood are becoming highly popular, and in some cases, they’re replacing gems and metals. These more natural materials are seen in shelled anklets, chunky wood bangles, stacked organic bracelets, raffia earrings, macrame earrings, and more. Repurposing old costume jewelry has also become popular, and some companies are using reclaimed gold chains to create new pieces.
With more people being aware of blood diamonds and some of the ethical issues that come with some diamonds, consumers are increasingly seeking out ethical diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds offer a practical alternative, and customers have the satisfaction of knowing exactly where those diamonds came from.
A jewelry making business’ target market will largely depend on the business’ specialization. A business that creates eco-friendly pieces from upcycled materials might market to eco-conscious consumers. A higher-end fine jewelry business will market to a different demographic. While most jewelry is worn by women, men often buy jewelry as gifts, so most businesses will market to both men and women.
Skills, Experience, and Education
A jewelry making business owner doesn’t need a business degree to get started, but certain skills and experiences are valuable and helpful in the jewelry industry.
Experience making jewelry. Some knowledge of and experience in jewelry making will be important when running this type of business. If a business owner doesn’t have experience, then finding a jewelry maker who can mentor and guide them is a wise strategy.
Knowledge of current trends. The jewelry industry is highly affected by fashion trends. A knowledge of which types of jewelry and materials are currently in demand can help a business to develop products that stand a greater chance of selling.
Design skills. Aesthetic awareness and design skills are important. A jewelry maker needs to be able to identify pleasing designs and color choices that look great together.
Attention to detail. Detail work is everywhere when making and selling jewelry. An eye for detail and the patience to ensure that every piece is well-finished will help to build a jewelry maker’s reputation.
Customer service skills. Whether a jewelry maker sells wholesale to stores or engages with customers directly, strong customer service skills are important.
Creativity. There’s plenty of competition from other jewelry makers. A business owner needs plenty of creativity to come up with unique pieces that will stand out from others.
Amazon has several books on starting and running a jewelry business.
How to Price Crafts and Things You Make to Sell (Free on Amazon Kindle Unlimited)
Costs to Start
The cost to start a jewelry making business will vary significantly depending on the type of jewelry the business will create. Working with materials like woods and some more common gems and stones can be affordable. Working with precious metals and precious stones will require much greater startup funds. It’s possible to start this type of business out of a spare room in the home, saving on rental costs and minimizing startup costs.
Plan to spend $300 to start a basic business working with jewelry crafting supplies. Businesses involving mold development and fine metals can cost $30,000 or more to start.
Common startup costs for a jewelry making business include:
- Jewelry making equipment and tools
- Inventory of raw materials
- Jewelry boxes and packaging
- Photography equipment
Steps to Starting a Jewelry Making Business
Step 1. Write your Business Plan
After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your business should be to write a business plan. Not only will a bank require you to have a business plan, but multiple studies have shown that a business plan helps increase the odds of starting a successful business.
Step 2. Form a Business Entity
A business entity refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business entities to choose from which include the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and LLC. Each type of entity has its own pros and cons such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.
Related: Comparison of Business Entities
Step 3. Select your Location
Most jewelry making businesses can be started out of a spare room in the home, saving on rental costs. As the business grows, it may be time to move into a manufacturing space. Rental costs will depend on factors like the space’s location, available amenities, whether the space can double as a storefront, and the size of the space.
If a space will serve both as a manufacturing location and as a retail location, then its location becomes important. A store in a high-traffic retail area can bring in valuable walk-in traffic, but it can also carry higher rental costs.
Related: Choosing a business location
Step 4. Apply for Business Licenses and Permits
A jewelry making business owner will need to obtain certain business licenses and permits. These permits and licenses can vary based on the state and town where the business is located.
Step 5. Find Financing
Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing, but getting the funding to start a jewelry making business is another. In order to get a loan, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and be able to invest 15-25% of their money towards the total start-up costs.
Step 6. Get your Marketing Plan in Place
Jewelry makers will need to actively market their pieces. If a jewelry maker’s goal is to wholesale to retailers, then this marketing might take the form of networking with business owners, attending industry events and trade shows, creating promotional materials, and visiting businesses. If the jewelry maker sells directly to consumers, then marketing might involve photographing products, creating a website, establishing an active social media presence, and going to events like craft fairs. Marketing costs will vary depending on the type and volume of each marketing activity.
Step 7. Get Insurance
A jewelry-making business will need several types of insurance for full coverage:
- General liability insurance helps to protect the business against expenses that could occur if a customer ever falls or is injured while on the business’ property.
- Commercial property insurance helps to cover expenses that the business might face if the building or its inventory are ever destroyed or damaged in an event like a fire. Especially important when operating out of the home since most homeowner’s policies won’t cover losses from business activity.
- Worker’s comp insurance helps to cover expenses that a business might face if an employee were ever hurt while on the job.
The cost of insurance policies varies depending on the business’ size, location, the value of its supplies and inventory, and even the number of employees on staff. It’s best to request quotes from multiple providers to get the most accurate idea of what to budget for insurance. When comparing the quotes, consider factors like plan exclusions, coverage limitations, and deductibles, as well as the differences between premiums.
Related: Common types of business insurance
Step 8. Hiring Employees
Many jewelry makers start and run their own businesses without hiring staff. If the business grows to the point where the owner can’t keep up with the demand, then it may be time to hire staff. According to PayScale, jewelry makers earn an average of $15 per hour, though pay rates can range from $10.48 to $22.50 per hour.
Staff salaries are just one of the expenses that come with hiring employees. A business will also need to include expenses like workman’s comp insurance, unemployment insurance, and paid time off in its budget.
Related: Hiring your first employee
How much can you potentially make owning a jewelry making business?
A jewelry making business’ profits can vary dramatically depending on factors like the business’ specialty, profit margins, location, and more. A business owner can maximize profits by performing thorough market research, developing a unique but highly appealing concept, and carefully pricing out pieces to maximize profit margins. Effective marketing also plays an important role, especially when building awareness of a new business.
Things to consider before starting a jewelry making business
The jewelry making industry is highly competitive, so jewelry designers need to be creative and innovative in creating pieces that stand out. Market research plays a role in this, though it’s also important for a business owner to create pieces that they like, themselves. An awareness of trends and the ability to anticipate which trends will become highly popular can help a business owner to create pieces that will be in demand.
Accredited Gemologists Association
American Gem Society
American Gem Trade Association
American Jewelers Association
Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association
Independent Jewelers Organization
Jewelers of America
Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America
Society of American Silversmiths
Women’s Jewelry Association