Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mass Production & Wholesale

 Recently in a discussion group, the comment "Where are all the wholesalers?" came up. Stone wholesalers, that is.... Well, I don't really know if that exists much anymore. I think the goal as a jewelry-maker is to find a dealer who isn't so far removed from the mining of gems that the prices are astronomical. I have certainly bought slabs of rough from the guys who actually mine the rock. Then I turn them into finished cabochons and sell them for a profit. That's about the best situation, but not everyone can cut their own stones, and sometimes even I don't have the time and don't want to spend the time to do it. I have luckily found a few dealers from India who seem to have good prices on wholesale lots of finished stones.

In February, hubby and I shopped at the gem shows in Tucson. There, in the Electric Park show, were guys who actually slabbed the jade, mined the Mexican opals, etc... It truly was wholesaling and the prices were great. Back home, I can't hand-select stones. I have to trust the feedback others have given and cross my fingers that the gems I'm purchasing online will be as good as they look...

This is a parcel of small opal cabs, 5x7mm, that came today from India. Great price- but I had to buy a lot. If you have money to buy in bulk, it seems beneficial to do so...

These are 8mm stones- lapis, prehnite, and amethyst. The reason I'm stocking up is because I, too, would like to get into wholesaling. I want to mass-produce items that typically are one-of-a-kind. Why? Well, I recently took a wax-casting class, and what I got out of it was, 'Why constantly re-invent the wheel by spending time making one-of-a-kinds? Why not take a nice design and replicate it a few times? Will a customer care if the item they buy from me is one-of-a-kind or one of 10 if the price is better?'

So, here's my first stab at it... I'm going to make a piece that will house any one of these 8mm stone cabochons, to become earrings. I sketched out a design, created a template, and have started producing the piece in silver as I normally do. The difference being, when I'm finished with the piece, but before I solder on the earwire, I'm going to have it molded and cast. Then, I will solder on the earwire and set the stone- whichever one the customer wants.

The learning curve will be to see how successfully it can be cast, and at what quality. I may produce a couple at first to be cast, to see what's possible, so I know what's achievable. But I'm excited at the prospect of developing a 'line' that is fast but still is a quality product. This will allow me to increase my inventory and start approaching stores/galleries to carry my items.

We'll see! I'll let you know how it turns out!!


  1. Who is going to do your casting Dana?

    1. Hi Janice- the class instructor recommended ArtTech in NY- she's been using them for years. So I will try them. There are so many out there! Do you have any recommendations?

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