• Pricing my Collection: Finding a Supplier…

    "Lotus & Lilypad Collection"

    To me, this is one of the most critical decisions for a jewelry manufacturer- probably any manufacturer.  I am glad that I have spent the last five years doing torturous research across the Internet in the search for gem suppliers, metal suppliers, tool suppliers & findings suppliers.  It really taught me something.  You can waste a tremendous amount of time trying to save a few dollars on an item.  And if the supplier is from overseas, then one must look at the shipping costs & time.  Reliability is a huge issue when buying from overseas- quality can vary tremendously from one shipment to the next.    Some suppliers provide huge, cheap inventories of one gem, but not others- which can lead you to using so many suppliers that you need a book-keeper (or many weekends) just trying to manage them.  What if they go out of business?  Visiting their company would cost too much money.  What if one of them raises prices?  Will you react to that quickly enough?  Will you find another supplier quickly?

    Another issue I have been thinking about is the manufacturing angle.  Some companies will provide the gems & metal, will cast the pieces and even finish them.  But what are their prices like?  Some companies will only do one part of the manufacturing and not the others- adding shipping cost & time to my overall production schedule & budget.  I need to KNOW exactly what my production strategy is BEFORE I can price- as this will determine who is or is not supplying the gems & metal for the collection!

    A lot to think about.  But I have made a decision concerning my supplies:  I plan on pricing my collection by using one American company’s catalog & inventory.  They do not offer the gems in all the sizes I need- but I have decided to change my designs in ArtCAM rather than flail around looking for companies who do provide them.  This company is huge, American and 100% reliable.  It’s been around and looks to stay around for a good while.  I believe it is safe to assume that this company only supplies readily available components and that their pricing is mainstream.    It will save me time, in the end, to use the calibrated stones they offer (I hope!).  I have learned through the design of computer systems that the greatest errors (in time & cost) are errors in the original designs.  Better to get them ‘right’ than to regret the implementation later.  Also, I think it wise to develop a strong relationship with the companies who will be supplying me and manufacturing for me.  Less is more in this case..(I hope!)

    Although I will use this company’s catalog to price my pieces, the reality is that the company that sets and finishes the pieces will probably provide the gems as well.  Ultimately, I will probably just buy the gems & metal from them.  I must be cautious to ensure that their pricing matches mine.  Based on the prices of this American company, I can probably negotiate the prices I need as they will be familiar with the company as well.  If not, then I will need to provide them with the materials.  But remember, this will mean I need to order them & get them mailed- a week’s turn around time.  Probably not worth it.  But in a pinch, I can order from this American company and KNOW I can get exactly what I need at the price I need it to be.  Another good reason to not use overseas suppliers…

    As for my production, I believe I will need to break it up.  I will use one company to ‘print’ my designs in wax and to do the initial casting.  I will use another to set & finish the pieces.  If the piece is two toned, I will need to use a third company to do the plating.    I simply can’t find one company who will do the entire manufacturing process.  Luckily, I have already found these companies.  I can only pray that I can work the kinks out for my first order with some level of satisfaction to my customer & to me.  *gulp*.

    I am hoping that because I have thought of these things before entering the sales phase that I will be able to out-compete other new jewelers releasing new lines…wish me luck!

  • A New Jewelry Brand Is Launched! Will Lim Studio Make It Big?

    Jewelry Designer & Lim Studio Owner- Susan Shannon

    Salutations! Susan Shannon, designer & owner,  is proud to announce the completion of the Lim Studio Website.  Lim Studio is a luxury 18kt gold, fine jewelry brand with a new collection that will be ready for sale within the next several months (as soon as pricing is done).  Our plan is to sell around the world (with a special emphasis on China & Europe) to the best privately owned jewelry stores we can find.  We have created a completely unique, sculptural collection to appeal to a discerning, well- heeled clientele who likes their jewelry to reflect their personality & affluence.   We knew it was a risk to deviate from the ‘pop culture’ of jewelry designs (mostly modern, linear designs) in favor of more tactile, artistic pieces.  We know that this will limit us to a much smaller clientele than the more predictable designs.   Susan purposefully selected 18kt gold for the collection- not only for its beauty, but for strategic reasons as well.  She is betting that with gold becoming unreachable by ‘normal’ people, the wealthier clientele will enjoy demonstrating their ability to afford it.  For this reason alone, we have made the primary focus on yellow gold.    We have decided to use an order initiated production model as opposed to keeping an expensive inventory on hand (which would be impossible for Susan’s budget in any case).  In order to do this, we have created each design in a 3-D design software program that can instantly produce the piece on demand.  Being launched on a shoe-string budget, Susan has decided to use only computer generated images of her designs rather than the obscenely high cost of actually producing the designs and photographing only a few for marketing.  She is relying on past experience that prospective retailers will order based on these photographs alone- as long as they are offered quality guarantees up front.

    Susan has been selling her jewelry for over five years and has had her designs featured in two magazines and many jewelry websites.  She has won national awards for her new collection and is hoping that these nods from the jewelry industry will give her enough credibility to begin her sales of the new collection.  Susan believes that her past five years of selling have given her the critical knowledge necessary to launch the Lim Studio brand collection.

    We are adding a blog page to the website so that you can watch Susan as she walks through the grueling process of creating and launching a new jewelry collection & brand.  This blog will address Lim Studio’s early years to present time and will take you, the reader, on the surely soulful journey into the future. Will Lim Studio & Susan survive the bad economy? Will Susan figure out how to break into the luxury jewelry market so dominated by giants like Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpel & BVGARI?  Or should she have stuck to less pricey boutiques with less pricey designs?  Or should she have tried to sell to distributors like Zales?   Has she made the right decision to use 18kt gold when gold markets are soaring? Is her bet that only the extremely wealthy are buying jewelry correct? Or should she have followed the crowd and gone with sterling silver and less expensive gemstones? How will she get her jewelry in the top luxury jewelry stores around the world? Will she be able to get her expensive pieces in front of the right clientele? Did she go too bold with her designs? How many people with enough money to buy will be interested in such sculptural jewelry? Has she made the right decision to use CAD images to represent her collection on her website?  Will these images convey the wrong message?   Is her logo & marketing strategy going to work?   This blog will tell the story of how one small time artist began- what she has learned and whether or not she learned the right things.   Susan will keep you up to date on where her business stands as it progresses. Stay tuned and share the triumphs and heartbreaks with her…


    Friends in my blogging community, I have put myself 100% on the line here with this ‘new’ business venture. In some ways, it is a terrible thing to design something and then put it out there for all to judge.   Every artist out there will understand me here. To create with your own two hands, from your heart, from your soul, from your mind- and then put it on a table for the crowds to see- takes guts. Will the people walk by and never even notice what you have done? Or will they stop and admire? or, best of all, covet what you have created? The first tears your heart out of your chest. The second shoots bright sunshine in your body and the last almost gives you reason to breath.

    Any artist who says that the creation process is the most meaningful part of their art is just a liar- plain and simple. The most important part is when people look at it.  It is in the observer’s eyes that we find our success or failure as an artist.   It has zero meaning outside of that. And let’s face it, without a purchase, an artist is left a little deflated. Praise can just be kind words from a stranger who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. But cash on the table shows that they loved what you did- again, food for the artist’s soul.

    And guess what? Artists DO need to eat and put a roof over our heads! As we age, we truly realize that an artist who remains temperamental and difficult will never succeed in the jewelry business. One has to develop a certain business sense. I know I had to.  My next article will fill you in on how this all started.  Thanks for joining me on the journey of a lifetime…

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