How to Price Your Wire Jewelry

By on May 24, 2010
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Dale here again– I receive many emails and questions through our Tip of the Day program asking questions about pricing, so I decided to address them in this article.

Please keep in mind that the following methods are not “set in stone,” as many people have their own formulas that work well for them. Rather, this is how both my personal students and I price our work. Note: none of us sell wholesale, as we are artists, not manufacturers.

Pricing is always the most difficult part of any art form, and jewelry is the hardest to determine, as there are so many ways to price. When you are making and selling jewelry in today’s economy, you may not be able to receive the compensation you fully deserve, but you should be able to survive if you price correctly for your area.

Most hobbyists (those who make pieces as a way to relax and to obtain a little extra cash) will take the price of their materials and multiply by 3. Weekend craft show warriors (who participate in shows close to home, so there is no added expense of hotels) often multiply the cost of their materials by 5. Many of my personal students will multiply their materials cost by 3 and then add a realistic hourly rate for their time, beginning at $10/hr. Please note, this time does not include any learning curve; rather, when you can make a piece without hesitation and no mistakes, that amount of time is what we charge for.

As you become more proficient with your skills, and the piece is made more quickly, then you are increasing your rate of pay per hour. Example: when beginning, an about-perfect bangle takes you 3 hours to create at $10/hr. Later, with experience, the same quality piece takes just an hour, and you have increased your rate of pay to $30/hr.

Of course, special pieces deserve special prices, such as a one-of-a-kind pendant or ring with the only stone “cut just like that,” for which you can ask whatever you like. If your one-of-a-kind piece sits in your case for a year and is well-behaved, it doesn’t eat anything, so it doesn’t matter if it sells immediately or not. If you set a special stone in a serious metal such as 14k or 18k, same scenario; I would just as soon not sell it than give it away.

To be able to sell your pieces in today’s “I want it for nothing” world, you need to get them out there. Here is the link to an article I wrote to give you ideas for sales venues: Where to Sell Your Wire Jewelry.

When displaying your work, no matter where, be sure divide your jewelry inventory into percentages of items priced according to the potential market.

For example, try having:

  • 20% of your items priced from $20 and under (for example, headpin earrings or little bead rings, made with crystals or unusual gemstone beads like agates and jaspers)
  • 30% priced from $48 to $25 (wrapped crystals, more elaborate earrings, regular cab pendants, etc)
  • 30% priced from $85 to $48, and
  • 20% priced specialty items from $90 and up.

It’s also smart to have a few designer pieces (priced wherever you want) to show just what you are capable of. Not only will these will attract higher-end customers, but also may catch the eye of gallery owners, etc.

Often, my specialty and designer pieces attract more sales because folks would really love to have one but can’t afford it at the time, so they purchase a lower priced item just so they can take a piece of my work home. I always have several of these customers return the following year, looking for me, because they are now ready for a special purchase or a custom order.

Unfortunately, there is no one, single pricing formula that will work for everyone. My advice is to test the waters to see what your potential customers are willing to pay, and go from there.

One last thing–don’t just give your pieces away! For example, someone attempts to convince you that the bracelet you have invested $30 worth of materials and 2 hours of your time in is not worth more than $35, and that you need to sell it to them! Don’t listen to that. Personally, I have had to remove items and put them in my pocket to end an occasional situation such as this.

Remember, Inspiration comes from every Where and every Thing!



  1. avatar


    May 24, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Thank you for such a great article – and for remembering to add not to give away our pieces. If too many designers decide their pieces aren’t worth much, it adds t a prevalent thought into buyers’ minds that ALL work isn’t worth much. Don’t get discouraged if your pieces aren’t selling and you are quite sure your prices are reasonable – just keep trying to find your niche audience!

    Jewelry artists are the best bunch in the world, and I’m privileged to count myself among you!

  2. avatar

    Marie Love

    May 24, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Hello Dale, I get and read the daily tips from you, and this one was right on time, as I am always queasy about pricing. Your words give me the courage to stand my ground! Thank you so much!!!

  3. avatar

    Lynne Bell

    May 24, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Hi Dale,

    Thankyou for your tips on Sales. I have been placing jewellery in a shop front and 2 galleries for some years on commission. I have learnt from experience and also taking into account the area/suburb you are marketing to. I have no idea of the what percentage of stock is in the ranges you suggested, but I do agree that you need to have stock that is priced and available in the $20 range and graduating upwards with more upmarket jewellery and designs. While people admire my wire work its not a huge part of my sales as I find at present, in Australia there is not maybe the appreciation of the art. I have completed 2 courses – one with a professional who studied the art of wire wrapping in U.S.A.

    Oh! and I love your book “Wire Work” so many inspirational ideas.
    Thanks for sending the disc, only just arrived, havent had time to look at it yet.

    Regards Lynne

  4. avatar


    May 25, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Thank You for the great tips! I agree with the not selling yourself short. Jewelry is not exactly easy and as such should not be “given” away.
    Also, I second the opinion that Jewelry artists Rock!!
    Thank You!

  5. avatar

    Aja Enun

    May 26, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Thanks for the daily tips you guys have been providing. They sure encourage a lot of us. In deed, pricing wire pieces has been a major concern of most jewlry artists especially now that some do not appreciate the worth of their creation. As much as we should not over price, we also should not throw them away! Your article on this is absolutely instructive. Once again, thanks for the useful tips.

  6. avatar

    Michelle Gray

    May 28, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Dale, thank you so much for this post. Helped me to know I was on the right track for my pricing, esp. my hourly rate.

  7. avatar

    sue pieper

    June 1, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to write this article. Pricing just drives me nuts as typically the customer has no idea how long it took to learn, and sometimes (a lot of times) how long to make, and everything else involved in the whole process. Your formula sounds perfect, but where I get stuck is with gallery pricing, needing to be able to make money for both myself & the gallery, yet keeping it affordable.
    Thanks again for the input!

  8. avatar

    Deb Weller

    June 3, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I just found this article. I own an LBS and one of the most common questions is “how much should I charge?” Your article reinforced everything I try to explain to my customer/designers. I think most of the information you gave could apply to most areas of beadwork from stringing to beadweaving, also.

    I also liked how you broke down the percentage of price points. That’s another big question I hear – “I’m doing a show next month, how much inventory do I need?”

    With your permission, I’d like to print out the article and share it and/or the link with my designer customers – the fledglings who are not quite confident enough to price their work well.

    Thanks for this article!

  9. Pingback: What's a Good Price for a Handmade Bracelet?

  10. avatar

    Cheryl Dunham

    June 18, 2010 at 6:44 am

    I have a picture frame that can hold several hundred photos and does a slide show. I do some wire wrapping but mostly chain maille, now that’s time consuming. So I have had pictures of the process, from making the coils, cutting and opening them then the weaving process. This makes the customer realize the time that went into the piece. I also multiply the costs by 3 and the time it takes to make the item.
    I agree, don’t give you designs away, I have a couple of pieces that I just kept for myself. One is a bracelet with over 7 troy oz of silver and gold filled, a Japanese weave, that was just too pricy, I love it and wear it all the time.
    Great article, something that every newbe needs.

  11. avatar

    Kathy Statton

    June 18, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Hi Dale, your classes certainly helped hone my wire wrapping skills, I know my pieces have improved since then. Pricing is tough since all my faceted stones are unique in that they are perfectly cut. Any stone that my husband cuts that is not perfect does not make it to Kathys Kreation.

    So pricing is a constant question. The value of the gem from helps and your advice on dividing inventory by percent seems to be crucial. I have customers who buy my earrings, who I hope will return.

    • avatar


      June 19, 2010 at 2:08 am

      Thanks for sharing that link Kathy!

  12. Pingback: Making Money with Jewelry: Pricing Jewelry

  13. avatar

    Nancy Bryant

    August 2, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Hi Dale,
    Thank you so much for all the information you share with us. I lived in the Baja for several years (in the winters) on the Sea of Cortez. Each morning I would walk the beach and find the treasures of Sea Glass that had washed up in the tide. I only saved the smooth ones that they say takes 20 years of rolling in the rocks and sand to get to that state. Later, I wondered what to do with it and discovered wire wrapping. I love to create beautiful pieces with this Gift From the Sea. But I do have a problem pricing it as well. It is rare to find now, so I feel that it should be priced higher than some. I have sold it right off my neck a few times! Can you give me an idea on pricing?

  14. avatar


    August 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Great article, thanks! May I ask how I might price an item that uses recycled materials, which are free? For example, taking a cab made from broken china plates with a floral pattern and wire-wrapping it with leftover copper electrical wire, thus turning trash into treasure. Would time used be the only pricing factor?

    • avatar


      August 2, 2010 at 10:28 pm

      Ken – in my opinion, No! The time involved is not the only value in a piece such as you describe (which I often make myself). Rather, it is the one-of-a-kind rarity and the story behind the item, that goes with your skills as a wire artist to set such a unique item; this determines the selling price. Personally, I charge whatever I think I can and if it sells fine – if not, well it doesn’t eat a thing.

  15. avatar

    Anna Winter

    August 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    I truly appreciate the information you provide. The break down on percentages was precisely what I was looking for. In speaking with a few fellow artist, they likewise appreciated the breakdown.

    I enjoy reading the tips each day and look forward to them. I am still relatively new to wire work, but find that I really enjoy the art and I know that in time the quality will grow.

  16. Pingback: Formulas for Pricing Jewelry | Jewelry Making Instructions

  17. Pingback: Pricing Bracelets | Jewelry Making Instructions

  18. avatar


    October 4, 2010 at 5:47 am

    When you do price your jewelry it’s important to account for your time and overheads as well as the materials that go into your creations. So many people overlook the true cost of creating their pieces so we put together a quick video here to show how you can price your jewelry without forgetting these important factors;

  19. Pingback: Pricing Jewelry by the Carat Weight | Jewelry Making Instructions

  20. Pingback: How to Price your Wire jewelry | Jewelry Making Instructions

  21. avatar

    Out of Hand in Nevada

    April 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    I always read tips on pricing to see if I am “in the ballpark” with accepted pricing. 3x materials and $10.00/hr. is my standard. My worst case scenario is being at a show next to someone who prices ridiculously low. To me that is a sign of low self-esteem and inexperience. With metal prices going through the roof, the newbie who sells precious metal jewelry for less than it would cost for materials is one of my worst nightmares. I just did a show with exactly that scenario this weekend

    • avatar


      October 10, 2014 at 4:27 am

      I had to comment on this—sorry. (It’s not “wire”-related, but jewelry in general)

      I was at an event a few weekends ago, things were REALLY slow, so since hubby was watching the booth, I went & wondered around.

      Anyways to the point—this lady was selling all kinds of jewelry, even make your own jewelry (string Euros to Chain.), & NOTHING was Over $4!! Plus if you bought 4 beads, the FAKE Euros, you got the chain FREE!!!

      She had the Euro beads—& tons of them, I’m talking hundreds & at least 75 Different ones, I could tell they were from China or the equivalent & the other “made” jewelry was cheap junk (I could tell when I looked at the jewelry/lifted-felt it.)

      Needless to say everyone flocked to her!!! I wasn’t the only jewelry seller there, plus there was Origami Owl, Direct Sellers & the such.

      My problem is—is how are the Handmade jewelry artists suppose to charge for the “Real” materials & the time it takes, when you have people buying look-a-like type jewelry overseas for pennies on the dollar &/or full of lead/other dangerous materials & then lying. Plus some of the direct sell companies are now selling jewelry (not positive which one), but all there jewelry is $5 (I believe–sorry if I’m incorrect!!)

      How are we even to compete with them??

      Desperate Jewelry Designer

  22. avatar

    Sandy Bellante

    July 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Dale, It’s not an exaggeration to say your class has changed my life. I was so bored with just beading, now I not only have a new craft in wire wrapping, but I incorporate both styles and find it so rewarding. I have purchased several of your videos, and watch them when I am working , your chatty style makes me feel as if you are right there in the room. Thanks again, I am an avid fan of both wire wrapping and Dale Cougar Armstrong

    • avatar


      July 13, 2011 at 9:58 pm

      Sandy, wow – thanks so much! Hearing how I have encouraged people to explore different aspects of their creative side always helps me remember why I do what I do. I wish you all the best with your “wired” beady endeavors and I look forward to working and visiting with you again!

  23. avatar


    September 21, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I really like that you said to not give in when someone is pressuring you to sell at a cheap price. So many people think that since it is made at home that it isn’t worth as much as something in a jewelry store. Then there are people who are just bullies when they buy. They may have a little experience with jewelry then try to downgrade your creations. I just tell them in a not too nice way to leave if you don’t like the price. You might not get a sale but it bolsters your own self esteem and others will respect you for it.

  24. avatar

    Linda Keesee

    October 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing your great tips on pricing jewelry. I have a really hard time with the pricing, and have been told recently that I price my items to low.

  25. Pingback: Wire Jewelry Resource: First 7 Steps to Selling Online | Jewelry Making Blog | Information | Education | Videos

  26. avatar

    Tracy Schwenson

    August 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Hi Dale,

    Thanks for the jewelry pricing information. It can be nerve inducing trying to figure this very important part of the jewelry making business. I have been making jewelry as a sole-proprietorship business for nine years. Before this, I held a number of positions in cost accounting in the high-tech computer and medical industries (over 30 years experience). One thing I learned about pricing high-tech devices, don’t forget to add the overhead costs. Examples in jewelry design are the costs of business cards, postage, shipping costs, costs to participate in shows, liability insurance (this protects you should someone visiting your booth injure themselves). There are other costs – basically any cost or expense you incur to do your craft. I find it best to review all my expenses, not including the wire and gemstones, once every six months. I total all these other expenses. Of course, I total all my material costs and my labor costs too. If you divide the other expenses by the total of your labor costs, you arrive at a number you convert into a percentage. This is your overhead rate. For example and to keep is simple – your total labor costs, for 6 months, are $1,000 (50 hours worked x $20 per hour. Your other expenses are $200. Now divide $200 by $1,000 and convert it into a percentage ($200/$1,000=0.20×100=20%). This means that you will add an additional 20% to your labor costs for every piece you make and add you material cost to arrive at your total cost. Here’s what I mean – It took me 1 hour to make the piece, or $20. $20 x .20 or 20% = $4. So, $30 material cost + $20 to make the piece = $50. Add $4 overhead to arrive at $54 total cost. Use this method to determine your sales price. You could take your $54 and multiply it by 2 or 3. The goal is to make a profit that works for you. For one of a kind pieces, a stone you will never find again, try multiplying your $54 by 3 or 4. There are many ways to look at pricing your work. Just don’t forget to make a profit that takes into account all of you expenses. Cheers!

  27. avatar


    August 9, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I find that there are very few items I can sell in my tri-state area if I add additional % for labor cost. I consider myself \"lucky\" if I can recoup cost X 2. That is why I stopped making precious metal jewelry on a regular basis, turning instead to lower-end costume jewelry. I believe this is because many of the box stores devalue handmade anything due to their use of of near-slave labor – and we Americans get used to such goods without any idea of actual production costs. Until we educate consumers…

  28. avatar


    September 22, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    very good,thank learning a lot here.

  29. avatar


    January 16, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Hi Dale,

    Thanks for the info. I’m just starting out making jewelry as one of my hobbies. I also paint, draw and do woodworking. I just like making things with my hands. So far I’ve just been fiddling around with stuff and most of the pieces I have made have been for gifts to family and close friends. I did make a necklace & earring set for my Daughter for her wedding and also a set each for the bridesmaids. They all thought they were beautiful and couldn’t believe that I made them. I felt kinda proud that day. Hahaha. I also made a few gemstone “Tree of Life” pendants and gave out as christmas gifts. Received great compliments on those too. So maybe I’ve hit on something here. Not looking to open a business but I have thought about trying to put a few things together to sell but was concerned that people wouldn’t want to pay much for it. But your article has given me new light so I plan to create some pieces and see how it goes…

  30. avatar

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