Considering Selling Your Artisan Jewelry Online?
Top 10 Tips by Ruby Lane
You may have only discovered the joys of making jewelry recently. Perhaps your items caught the eye of relatives or co-workers, and you soon found yourself selling jewelry. You may have had success at local galleries or craft shows and now wish to expand into the world of internet sales. Or you may be an experienced hand at jewelry making, and are looking for a great venue to sell your items.
Ruby Lane has hundreds of shops selling their own artisan jewelry creations and a steady stream of shoppers looking for these items. We have some hints that will help you sell, whether you are new to jewelry making or new to on-line sales. Even seasoned professionals may be able to polish up their presentations with a review of these tips.
1. Know your materials. The number one issue with Artisan Jewelry shops being reviewed for opening on Ruby Lane is improper presentation of gemstone materials and metals. Any jewelry seller should be aware of the Federal Trade Commission's Guides for the Jewelry and Precious Metal Industries, an industry of which you are now a part. Gemstones must be described accurately, leaving your customer no grounds to claim misrepresentation. It is your responsibility to correct any misrepresentation made to you when you acquired the material. Are the pearls you are offering cultured, simulated or natural? Are they color enhanced? Are the beads you bought as "turquoise" stabilized, dyed, or enhanced in some manner? Is there a possibility they are actually another material, such as howlite or calcite? Are your settings actually silver, or merely silver colored metal? Learn what gem materials are subject to misrepresentation. Learn to identify these problems, and do not hesitate to ask your suppliers questions about materials and enhancements.
2. Present this information accurately.
If you aren't sure what the turquoise colored beads are, admit it. Describe them as "turquoise color stone beads". If the bead caps you are using are silver colored, but you are not sure if they are actually sterling silver and do not have the ability to test them, describe them as "silver colored bead cap".
3. Present your pieces completely and attractively.
Your customer does not have the benefit of handling the piece before sale in an on-line transaction. Make sure your pictures show the true colors of the piece. Make sure your pictures show the complete piece, including clasps. Make sure the fronts and backs of pieces are shown. Take your photos in an environment that keeps the focus on your jewelry, making sure that props and backgrounds do not overwhelm the piece. Be sure to include lengths and size information. If you are making wire-wrapped creations, make sure to include some photos that will reassure your shoppers that the pieces are finished smoothly and that their favorite sweater will not be the victim of a sharp or loose wire. Make sure photos are focused and show off any unique features of materials or design.
4. Romance the stone.
Now that you have a technically accurate and complete description, get creative again. Is there some legend or metaphysical property associated with the stone? Is the piece the newest trend in jewelry? Is it in the colors that are all over the fashion world this season? Is it a birthstone? Is the stone used to signify a special occasion or anniversary? Let your customer know this. But please remember to share any metaphysical claims about the properties of gemstones as something less than scientific fact.
5. You have made some great pieces and had some sales success.
There are a lot of other jewelry makers in the world, and they make some great pieces, too. Create a unique identity. Incorporate some feature into your pieces, your presentation, or your packaging that sets you apart from the crowd. It may be a special hang tag on the piece, a free gift with purchase, or a unique package or enclosure. You want to develop the kind of identity that will make your shop the first one a shopper thinks of when they are looking for jewelry.
6. Stand behind your creations.
In online sales, as mentioned before, your customer does not have the benefit of handling the piece. It should be constructed in such a way as to hold up to normal use. Do you offer a warranty? Are you willing to repair the piece that isn't covered by warranty, the bracelet that got caught in the dog's collar? While not covered by a warranty, your service will be appreciated by the shopper. And you may be able to point out a new creation that would go wonderfully with the repaired piece.
7. Offer alterations.
They found your piece. They love your piece. They want to buy your piece. But your piece is 7" long and they need an 8 ½" piece. Can you make yours longer? A little foresight in the design stage may make this an easy job, and one which the customer will remember and appreciate.
8. Offer custom work.
Nothing makes a customer feel more special than a piece created just for them. Take a serious look at this option. The customer sees a piece of yours, loves the design, but wants a different color. Can you do it? How long will it take? How much will it cost? What process will you follow? Do you want a deposit before starting the job? What will your return policy be? Clarifying these questions before a job starts can save you time and money and helps keep your customers satisfied.
9. Take advantage of free advertising opportunities.
Marketing your website is a must, so when an online shop hosting site such as Ruby Lane makes free advertising available to you, jump on it. Write articles for the monthly newsletters, post items in monthly finds, submit your show events to the blog calendar, write articles for the blog, and submit book titles to the blog library. Then you have Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites, which for a small investment of time give you a platform to announce sales events, make professional connections, and get your name out there. Take advantage of each one.
10. Make it Personal
For whatever reason, some artisans find it difficult to write about themselves. Provide information about who you are and your craft, in the form of an artist's statement or an informal written presentation including your background, the organizations you belong to, your training, shows you attend, awards you have won, etc. If you are new to jewelry making, you still have something to say. Let them know you are 'real'. It's about making a personal connection with your shop visitors and customers. Put a 'face' to the artisan name; include photos of yourself, your studio, or you working in your studio.
Ruby Lane is home to over 2,000 individually-owned shops from around the world offering antiques & art, vintage collectibles and jewelry. Visit www.rubylane.com