Jazz up Your Jewelry
by Dale Armstrong
Question:

I make jewelry and love it. Recently I did a show and was told I make dull and granny jewelry. That hurt so bad- I don't want my jewelry in that category! What could I do to jazz it up a bit?

-Trisha in Breckenridge, Texas
Instructions
Answer:

Oh my goodness Trisha, believe it or not I know exactly how you feel! Especially when you are tired and have spent days working on both, your pieces and your display, one negative comment can really damage your thinking process.

Because I have not seen your work, I can only make generalized suggestions. Go to the front of your display and try to look at your work through a customer's eyes:

Are most of your pieces made in natural stones that are mostly "earth tones"? If so, you could jazz them up a bit by adding a tiny sparkling crystal bead here or there, or by adding a brightly colored stone bead in a complimentary color. Keep in mind that sometimes what we were taught as children is not true; for example, purple and green DO look good together!

Do all of your pieces look basically the same, like they were made using a cookie cutter on different colored stones? Add a complementing headpin drop or chain to a regular frame. Try refreshing the top of pendants by changing the way you use the remaining frame wires to embellish in a slightly different way, or cut some of them off entirely! (If you have not yet signed up for our Free Email Patterns, please do as there are some awesome designs and ideas among them!)

What about earrings? (Simple headpin charm earrings sell well about anywhere.) Often a pendant pops out, if it is displayed with a simple pair of headpin earrings made using similar stone beads as the pendant, mixed with a few sparkling crystals.

This brings up another question. Are you sure it is your work, and not your display? How do you display your items? Are they grouped by color? If so, then all of those earth tone pieces will look boring if they are not broken up with brightly colored pieces or items that sparkle. What are you using as display items? Sometimes a whimsical item will give interest to a piece as it invokes a customer's memory or sense of humor. How about sliding a few silk leaves under otherwise-common stones to break up the color. What type and color of tablecloth are you using? One of my students came by and set up a mock display for me to see. Her issue was that she had a lovely lace tablecloth that took away from her work - made it confusing to the eye. (Yes, the Definitive Guide has great display, design and sales tips that can help with all of the above!)

Seriously, I am sure that a customer's negative comment has made an impression on about all of us, at one time or another. For example: I remember, about two years into doing shows, while they were looking at my jewelry I heard a couple of smartly dressed women say, "Oh look. Big, gaudy jewelry. Ugh." And they walked away. That night I went home and decided I was going to make nothing but medium and much smaller pieces - wrong! I did just that and had several of those tiny things around for the next 4 years!

Above all, make what you are happy creating, step outside of the box occasionally, and always be true to your own instincts. Always take criticism creatively, and not to heart.

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

Materials

The Definitive Guide to Selling Handcrafted Jewelry
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  • Category: Selling
  • Technique(s): Design, Selling