Maker Resources

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Handmade Jewelry

November 13, 2014

Handmade jewelry has been all the rage lately. The personal attention and love that makers and artisans infuse into their work is evident in the masterpieces that they create. What most people don’t understand is why handmade jewelry is more of an investment than its mass produced counterparts. There are many reasons why handmade jewelry is more of an investment than pieces that are mass produced, so I thought I would break it down for you!  Below are 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Handmade Jewelry.

7 Things You Didn't Know About Handmade Jewelry | UncommonGoods-548x421

1. No Mass Production Machinery Involved: By definition, handmade jewelry is literally just that, made by the “hands” of the artisan or maker.  The pieces are soldered, sawed, carved and shaped without the use of mass produced manufacturing machinery. A machine can crank out hundreds of units per hour while an individual can only make a finite quantity or fraction of the number of pieces in the same amount of time.

7 Things You Didn't Know About Handmade Jewelry | UncommonGoods

2. The Value of Time: As previously mentioned, since there are no machines involved, handmade jewelry takes an incredible amount of time to produce just a single piece. As a designer myself, I know I often spend hours designing a single piece of jewelry for a client. The time to make the piece often can take weeks.

7 Things You Didn't Know About Handmade Jewelry | UncommonGoods

3. The Maker’s Process: The maker has a very intimate relationship with each piece or design they create. The design process is key to the value that is inherent in each piece. Emilie Shapiro talks about her process and says, “While creating jewelry, there is a very intimate relationship with my work. I know every curve and line (is) put there with intention. As a maker your energy goes into the piece.”

7 Things You Didn't Know About Handmade Jewelry | UncommonGoods

4. Materials: In almost every case, the value of the materials involved in a handmade piece are of stellar quality. It’s difficult to regulate or even know exactly what alloys are used in mass produced factories where dirty metals are blended together to create costume pieces. Handmade materials are generally sourced from highly reputable suppliers.

7 Things You Didn't Know About Handmade Jewelry | UncommonGoods-548x421

5. Sustainability: Jewelry Makers are often dedicated to sustainability and ethically sourced materials. By nature, being ethical can be much more costly than taking the easy route and purchasing from the refiner or dealer with low prices and shady sourcing. Once again, Emilie Shapiro always uses the highest quality materials sourced from suppliers who share her ethos about sustainability whenever possible. Smaller scale production is almost always higher quality.

7 Things You Didn't Know About Handmade Jewelry | UncommonGoods

6. Quality: Smaller scale production is almost always higher quality because the ability to track and control the process from start to finish is inherent in the making process. Makers and artisans are extremely proud of the work they produce. They aren’t going to let something of inferior quality leave their studio with their name on it.

7 Things You Didn't Know About Handmade Jewelry | UncommonGoods

7. Locally Made with Love: There is a lot of buzz with “buying local” these days. Reducing your carbon footprint and supporting local artisans is good for the environment and good for everyone. Artisans and makers infuse love and energy into each piece of work. There is HUGE value in supporting local from a sustainability and energetic standpoint. Along with the extra value inherent in handmade jewelry you are also buying a truly one-of-a-kind product. Even if the handmade piece is part of an edition – no maker creates two pieces that are exactly identical. You are the only person with that specific piece of jewelry which says a lot.

7 Things You Didn't Know About Handmade Jewelry | UncommonGoods

The next time you consider purchasing a handmade piece of jewelry, remember that even though the piece may be an investment, you are supporting something even bigger. You should feel really good about your purchase knowing that you have a special piece of the artist in your jewelry collection.

Handmade | UncommonGoodsKeep an eye out for this blue hand icon while shopping at UncommonGoods for handmade products!

7 Things You Didn't Know About Handmade Jewelry | UncommonGoods-548x421

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125 Comments

  • Reply Harriet Hicks November 16, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    This is well presented, and thought provoking. Maybe more people will understand the investment in truly hand made jewelry.

  • Reply Cheri November 16, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    this explains it perfectly!!

  • Reply Sally November 16, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Great article and I love to shop at UncommonGoods

  • Reply NLS November 17, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I disagree slightly with number 4 – there is still a large and I do mean HUGE amount of jewelry that is handmade where the materials are ordered in bulk from online stores that deal in materials and that stuff isn’t regulated – it comes from China and is full of lead. I love the idea of handmade jewelry too but I wouldn’t buy anything for a kid or teen that I couldn’t be sure came from lead free materials. Findings, clasps, jump rings – things of that nature are often purchased in bulk from overseas.

    I’m not saying don’t love and buy handmade – just be a smart consumer and know where the materials come from.

  • Reply Michele November 17, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Great article! Handmade items are much more special than mass produced! Lots of love is poured into them, and the items can last a lifetime!

  • Reply Why Buy Handmade | Avenue Beads Blog November 17, 2014 at 10:31 am

    […] came across this blog post “7 Things You Didn’t Know About Handmade” and it was like a hammer hitting a nail. If I still did art shows I would turn that blog […]

  • Reply Norman Seldin November 17, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Since being family involved with jewelry since the age of three, I’ve watch in our own stores that time it takes to make the hand made piece or an original wax model. I am so proud that my wife’s store Seldin’s Trinkets & Jewelry in Red Bank, NJ can handle all of these special requests and in time for the holidays. Some of the authentic one of a kind American Indian jewelry is also awesome. The Seldin family has been serving the jewelry world since 1947! This was a very well done article also.

  • Reply Anna November 17, 2014 at 11:25 am

    A really well written blog. Well done and I hope you don’t mind me sharing it.

    Anna x

  • Reply Ashley Elizabeth November 17, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Thank you for this article! Well said!

  • Reply Cassie November 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for all of the comments, everyone! Tracy did a great job on this post, and we’re so glad to have opportunities like this to partner with Flourish & Thrive Academy.

    A few folks have asked about sharing the article. Please do! We’re thrilled that there is so much excitement around spreading the word about handmade jewelry.

    Best,

    Cassie | UncommonGoods

  • Reply Neogami Origami Jewellery November 17, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Handmade jewellery is so much more than just a personal adornment.
    You have explained so perfectly how all the work artists put in to creating the piece makes it all the more meaningful.

  • Reply marianne mckoveck November 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Great article, well written. It helps for the consumer to understand the higher prices than “store bought”!

  • Reply Mike Billings November 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Nicely written and illustrated. Beautiful words for beautiful works.

  • Reply Megan November 17, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    An excellent article from the lovely Tracey Matthews! There cannot be enough education in this area.

    Even with explaining how each of my hand beadwoven pieces takes me several hours to create, I still get meet with the occasional offhand remark of my jewelry designs being too expensive from those who are unaware of all the time and skill that goes into the creation process.

  • Reply Rebecca November 17, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I completely agree. A dear friendof mine is a jewelry artist that uses old china pieces and sea glass to design her works of art. To see her work go to http://www.jl925.com.

  • Reply Ana November 17, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Could not agree more. Most people are looking for a bargain and don’t realize that with hand made they get quality. This is a very good article. Check out my shop at Etsy. http://www.etsy.com/shop/sonobella

  • Reply Erica November 17, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    This was beautifully shared. Handmade jewelry is a true treasure and heirloom piece that ends up having meaning for the recipient, buyer and artisan.

    aftcra only features handmade goods made in America. Check out some of our talented artisans here: http://aftcra.com/category/jewelry

  • Reply sarah November 18, 2014 at 5:10 am

    Great post

  • Reply Kiesha November 18, 2014 at 5:43 am

    What a lovely post and that lace necklace is stunning.

  • Reply Jasminka November 18, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Well explained!
    @NLS,I disagree with you. People who make a real handmade works will not include any Chinese products in their work. I avoid them and always wonder if customers care about what containing these metal components.

  • Reply Martha Mawson November 18, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Excellent blog and makes a good companion piece to my latest blog – http://ailleasdesignsblog.com/2014/11/14/what-is-art-worth/.

    I do have to agree that number 4 isn’t always the case, unfortunately. Handmade jewellery isn’t always handmade. Sometimes it is just hand-assembled with pre-made bits and pieces. And many of the jewellery ‘makers’ I’ve seen use stones that are not genuine, although they have been told they are. It is a veritable minefield. I would suggest that people be very sure that the price is an adequate reflection of the piece you wish to purchase. If it seems too inexpensive, it is not of high quality.

  • Reply Elle G November 18, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I love this post, there is a lot of confusion around #4 and it is further muddied by sites that change the very definition of handmade to include items made in factories in other countries.
    There is a terrible disconnect between actual handmade and what is being sold en mass as handmade. Sadly, when the websites that claim to support handmade items do not do a good job of choosing sellers wisely, or clearly defining Handmade in the first place, it doesn’t help the issue.
    Buyers are confused because too many sellers will claim a 19.99 ‘gold’ ring is handmade, when in fact it was purchased wholesale from a factory overseas. Often times the same item can be found on Ebay for 4.99 from a factory in China.

    As real designers, selling TRUE handmade, our best option is to educate, inform and refuse to support sites that “hand wash” factory made goods.

  • Reply Jennifer November 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Thank you for highlighting the love, attention and time that is involved in creating handmade jewelry. As an artist, I am often challenged with competing on price, although my work is so time consuming. There is value in obtaining a piece directly from the artist, rather than a mass produced item from a store shelf.

  • Reply Judith November 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Excellent article. I have tried to articulate this many times but Tracey has put it beautifully, thank you.

  • Reply Patrick November 18, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    This is a nice list, but I take issue with your use of the term ‘investment’. An investment is something you buy because you expect it to provide you with income in the future.

    I have friends that are jewellers and I buy pieces from them because they make beautiful, quality work using fine materials. I believe that this makes their pieces a better purchase for me than some of the mass-produced alternatives.

    I don’t buy their jewellery because I expect to rent, use or sell it for profit. If I did, then it would probably end up being a bad investment anyway.

  • Reply maureen November 19, 2014 at 8:36 am

    @NLS What you are referring to is not really handmade. Many people make jewelry by assembling pieces together. In silversmithing we make all the pieces including jump rings (which are soldered closed) and make all the clasps etc out of sterling silver.

  • Reply Elizabeth Anne Norris November 20, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Well said Tracy. I shall remember this points and they are so on the mark.

    Thank you,
    Elizabeth

  • Reply Erin Dubrow November 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Thank you for pointing out many of the reasons why handmade jewelry is often more expensive. It is also important to keep in mind that these points hold true for many handmade items. As a jewelry artist I try to support other artists by buying handmade.

  • Reply Armande November 24, 2014 at 4:13 am

    That is awesome post, and so true!

  • Reply Mii Myx Jewelry November 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Thank you Tracy, for putting into words what jewelry artist have always known very well, but don’t always know how to express to potential customers without sounding defensive, or “SALESey”. Well written Tracy!

    Thanks again,
    Jennifer Kroll,
    Mii Myx Jewelry

  • Reply MiHo November 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    A lots of words about classic jewelery approach and comparing with mas produced galvanized dirt metal jewelery , and that’s it, like there is no other way to make it ?
    What about stainless steel or titanium materials, combined with ebony or precious metals as details … some designers even inlay concrete in stainless steel …
    Funny how classic jewelers know only about their own work approach , not much about modern design way, tools like metal lathe or water jet.

  • Reply Courtney Gillen November 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Thank you!

  • Reply Suzie November 29, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you for writing this article. It’s very important for people to realize that “handmade” means you MAKE the pieces by hand, not buy some pre-made pieces, glue them together and call it “your” work. When you make the items you’re gluing together, that will be “your” work.

  • Reply Rebecca November 30, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I believe some people commenting in this blog are interpreting handmade too narrowly. If you are a designer creating a necklace or bracelet using gemstones, up-cycled materials, chain, leather, etc., all made by someone else, is that not a handmade piece? It’s not factory made. I believe it is too limiting to say you need to make every element in the piece. To me, a handmade piece is unique and was created from the heart.

  • Reply Leo November 30, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Upcycling is a whole other ballgame, Rebecca. I don’t see where she said that you have to make every single piece of it. To give you a really easy example:
    You buy a chain. You buy a pendant. You put the pendant on the chain. Is that YOUR work? No. Right? Right.

  • Reply Mimi December 1, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Very interesting post, I love handmade jewelry.

  • Reply cris December 2, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    http://www.cristelisabelmarcon.com

    paper jewelry

  • Reply cris December 2, 2014 at 5:13 pm

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  • Reply Allen December 2, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Have to admit being a little confused. I am a custom jeweler working in a high end jewelry store. I work only in gold silver or platinum. Fabrication in metal or wax carving with lost wax casting is determined on a time basis, as in which is going to take the least amount of time. Nobody in their right mind would ever think of using lead as part of the alloy, it makes gold brittle! As a lot of stones are bought in select sizes, using a manufactured head cuts down on time. Yes I could make one, but for the time taken, no profit hurts the store.
    Hand fabrication takes time. As to this being an investment for the customer, yes as in their money! not something they could turn around and make a profit on. Handing something down to their kids fine.

  • Reply Julyanne December 2, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    I really agree with the idea of buying local. That’s much more love involved when the product is handmade. Great article!

  • Reply Julie Walton December 3, 2014 at 5:28 am

    An excellent article, and I also like the comment Martha made “If it seems too inexpensive, it is not of high quality.”

  • Reply Sarah December 14, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Great article to make people aware that the time and effort for hand made is greater than the sum of the components. Very difficult to compete with the cheap mass produced stuff.

    http://Www.etsy.com/shop/dizzydrakes

  • Reply Pete December 18, 2014 at 4:08 am

    8. Americans can’t spell jewellery.

  • Reply Debbie December 22, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Well said……

  • Reply Lethe December 26, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I love that this conversation has taken on the ‘handmade’ discussion. It’s kind of a slippery slope.

    If you buy all your components pre-made (for example chains, findings, beads, charms) and create a necklace from them, is that handmade?

    What if you buy pre-made jump rings and clasps, but create a complicated chainmaille collar? Sure, you can spend time making your own jump rings, but it’s production work and results in exactly the same jump rings you can buy on the market – no difference. So even though all the components you are using are mass-produced, your final product is certainly not. And let’s not forget, the jump rings themselves are made from wire, and it is highly unlikely you will have fabricated your wire from a raw metal ingot (although you certainly could, and some metalsmiths do).

    On the other hand, you would hardly place a silversmith who fabricates a beautifully formed pendant and hangs it from a handmade chain with a hand-fabricated clasp in the same category as someone who purchases pre-made chain, clasp, and pendant and creates a necklace by combining them. But both create a piece of jewelry. And there are plenty of ‘one-of-a-kind’ high-end pieces of the second variety in stores and available at art fairs.

    ‘Handmade’ is a nebulous term. Buyer be aware. As a ‘maker,’ part of your job is to educate your client base. Make sure they understand the craftsmanship involved in the creation of your work. Make sure they understand the intrinsic value of the materials you work with. Show them as much of your process as you can. There is no substitute for identifying the maker’s hand in the final product.

  • Reply Sarah December 27, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Nice article!

  • Reply Marilyn Davenport December 30, 2014 at 8:58 am

    What a well written and presented article. Marilyn

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