Monday, September 5, 2011

A Few Tips On Buying Handmade Jewelry

Oh Boy! This month’s Blog Carnival** topic is sure to elicit a wealth of stunningly obvious insights and self-serving advice. Not to be outdone, we’ll kick it off by offering this: buy what you like, but above all buy OUR handmade jewelry. 

OK, now that we have gotten that out of our system, the real tip is that most of you don’t really need any “tips” on buying handmade jewelry at all. 

The real tips come from selling handmade jewelry. As makers, we talk amongst ourselves, and one of the perennial topics is interaction with customers. These conversations often have recurring topics related to behaviors perceptions, and questions that come up over and over. The vast majority of people who visit artisan booths, stores or shop online are wonderful, polite and perceptive folks who are a pleasure to deal with.

But then, there are a few gems amongst you. Here are few tips for those extra-special situations to help you with buying custom and handmade jewelery.
Truth in advertising: ALL of the following have actually happened

Handmade jewelry (or handmade anything) will not be cheaper than what you buy at Wallmart, Kmart or Costco. The items you are looking at are not mass produced in a factory overseas. They are often one of a kind or a very limited edition.

Your kid cannot make something just as good. Declaring so to the person showing you the work simply demonstrates your lack of manners. In fact, the person showing you the work is almost certainly the person who made it. They have invested years of practice and study to develop their skills. Its OK if some art does not appeal to you. No need to be rude…and might we add, your kid is ugly.

When requesting custom work, artists cannot determine your ring size from a photograph, your weight, height, age, job title or any other information other than….your ring size.  Emailing the jeweler a photo of your girlfriend’s hand as an indicator of ring size will not work. Emailing the jeweler a photo of your girlfriend naked is just weird.

The jeweler’s name on the inside of your ring’s band is the maker’s mark. It is not an ego power play to put THIER name in YOUR ring.

A jeweler is not likely to make a “sample” of a custom ring, bracelet, or any other item so you can see it and then decide if you want to buy it or not. So don’t ask. 
PS: this doesn’t work in restaurants either.

Wearing your jewelry while swimming in the ocean is generally not a good idea. Particularly if incorporates wood, ivory, or other organic materials. The jeweler is not responsible for replacing items that are lost in the ocean, or corroded/damaged by prolonged exposure to salt water.
Extra Note: shiney/sparkly things are used by fishermen to attract fish. This could be inconvenient if you happen to be in the water WITH the fish, some of which are bigger than you.

While we’re on the subject, the jeweler is also not responsible for replacing your jewelry if:
1. You drop your diamond ring into a running garbage disposal
2. You leave your jewelry on the top of your car, drive off, and find it is not there when you arrive home
3. You hide the gift box in the garage under the car, and then run over it on your way to dinner
4. You break up with your girlfriend and she customizes your ring with a 5lb sledge hammer before returning it to you.

When having something custom made, the artist will consult with you to determine the specifics of the item to be made and a price. Once the job is started, changing the specifics will almost certainly change the price.  Deciding that you want an engraving of the Last Supper on the inside of your ring after it is made just might add to the cost. Nothing personal, we’re just sayin’…

We could go on and on, but we’ll leave some room for all the other Blog Carnival jewelers to weigh in on the topic. At the end of the day, making handmade jewelry is great fun, and the never-ending cavalcade of experiences stemming from those activities is an enriching source of humor and amusement. And don’t forget to buy OUR handmade jewelry.

** Blog Carnival is a group activity of EtsyMetal, an international collective of jewelry artists. Each month the group selects a topic and members link their writings on that topic, thus providing readers with a multidimensional rambling collaborative brain-fart experience.


  1. This is really such a good humored post that it made me laugh and I enjoyed it very much. Just wanted to say so.

    Catherine Witherell

  2. Thank you Catherine. Humor is healing.

  3. I've fixed stuff that had gone through what I didn't even think was possible to do with jewelry, and the folks thought I wouldn't notice ! Excellent post, once again !