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How to Start Your Own Jewelry Business: The Ultimate Guide

What begins as a hobby for many can often develop into a lucrative company. Jewelry making is a profitable, low-investment business for creative minds (and hands). It doesn't always require manual skills, which makes jewelry one of the most popular things to make and sell online. Even without any manual talent, maybe you have a great online business idea and an existing audience and are looking for a creative way to make money.

It's a saturated market, but there's still room for newcomers who can fit into an untapped niche or bring a new perspective into the traditional craft.

Regardless of your motivation or craftsmanship, starting a jewelry business comes with a number of considerations and complications. For one, the segment is quite competitive. The global jewelry market was valued at $ 348 billion as early as 2018, with costume jewelry making up the lion's share. It's a relatively saturated market. Even so, there is still room for newcomers who can fit into an untapped niche or bring a new perspective to the traditional craft.


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How to start a jewelry business

If you want to know how to turn jewelry into a profitable small business, this post is for you. We'll look at all aspects of a jewelry business - from conception and design to production and marketing. This guide contains advice from professionals, tactical tips, and loads of inspiration from established designers and business owners.

We interviewed two jewelry designers and asked them to share their personal experiences building a brand from the ground up. These are our two experts:

  • Corinne Anestopoulos, Founder of Biko
  • Gillian Johnson, Hawkly founder

💍 To the most important sections

Building a Jewelry Business: Getting Started

One of the first questions to ask yourself: real jewelry or costume jewelry? Maybe your interest is somewhere in between. Each category has its own materials, production processes, price points and customer profiles:

💍 Real jewelry

  • Made from precious and semi-precious metals and precious stones
  • Higher price
  • Made with excellent craftsmanship, not usually mass produced
  • Customer segment: luxury / weddings / special occasions

📿 costume jewelry

  • Usually trendy
  • Made from inexpensive or less expensive metals and materials (beads, wire, clad metal, plastic, synthetic gems, etc.)
  • Lower price
  • Can be mass produced
  • Customer segment: everyday life, work and leisure

👑 Others

  • This category covers everything else from jewelry made from middle-class materials (textiles, metals, semi-precious stones, wood, 3D printing, etc.) to jewelry defined as art (collectibles, custom-made, one-of-a-kind) or highly skilled craftsmanship.
  • Emphasis on design and uniqueness
  • The price varies, usually in the middle of the range
  • Customer segment: special occasions, design enthusiasts, collectors, gifts

21 inspirations for 2021: We'll introduce you to the best designs for your online shop in this post!

Once you've narrowed down the category for your jewelry business, it's time to find a niche for your products. Start by defining your ideal customer (classic, trendy, brides, socially conscious consumers, etc.) and decide whether your products should be occasion-related (wedding, party, everyday life, etc.). This will ultimately determine your marketing strategy.

Jewelry trends

Researching trends is one way to determine (and validate) the direction you have chosen. Read fashion and jewelry blogs and related publications, and follow influencers in this area to stay up to date on the trends for the upcoming season. With Google Trends you can see search volume for a specific term (global or specific to the country you want to sell to).

Alternatively, you could look into related trends or consumer habits, such as: B. with the desire for individualized products (engraving, etc.) or manufacturing with ethically harmless materials.


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But you don't always have to just follow trends. You could also use your jewelry business to establish your very own trend. That is exactly what Biko founder and designer Corrine Anestopoulos did and launched her collection based on her own personal style. “Somehow I had the feeling that I had found a market for something new by accident without really planning it,” she says. "It was just my taste."

When she started Corinne worked with a brass-colored finish. “Nobody else did that,” she says, noting that shiny silver was the trend back then. Although their collections evolve every year with the trends in the industry, the common thread is a recognizable look that defines their brand and ensures follow-up orders.

Find inspiration for jewelry design

Success as a newcomer to any niche in the fashion industry depends on strong aesthetics, unique design, and consistent branding. Before working with a designer to develop your branding, and before creating individual pieces, you should define your unique signature style.

Depending on how you like to be inspired, you can create Pinterest boards, design your own digital mood boards, use a mobile jewelry design app or collect your ideas physically on a pin board or in a sketchbook.

I am always looking for inspiration and collecting inspirational pictures no matter where I am.

Corinne Anestopoulos, Biko

Reading tip: You can find out here how Pinterest works and how you can use it effectively for your business.

Collect images, colors and textures from nature, architecture, fashion or travel, and then identify the themes that emerge from them. “You should never stop being inspired. I am always looking for inspiration and collecting inspiring pictures, no matter where I am, ”says Corinne.

Build your own jewelry brand

Remember that the concept of “brand” is different from “branding”. The brand is your voice, mission, vision and your brand story. It tells your customers what they should think of your product. Fashion purchases are often emotional. Accordingly, emerging brands can attract customers by connecting on a personal level. Tell your story on your About Us page, get involved in your social media posts, and share the process and inspiration behind your designs.

Branding: Packaging, logo and website design for your jewelry brand

Branding refers to the more tactical elements that visually represent your brand, such as: B. your logo, your packaging and your website. Once you've established the aesthetics of your products and your customer profile, it should be easier to come up with an overall look that defines your brand. This is an essential step, even for a small business. That's why you shouldn't rush anything.

If you're on a tight budget, you can set up a simple Shopify store with a free theme and develop the logo yourself with a free online logo maker. If you are looking for some inspiration for a suitable domain name, we have a suitable tool for that too. Remember, you should still reserve part of your budget for professional product photos. We will go into the importance of good photography for jewelry a little later.

If you have a slightly larger budget, you should work with a designer who can translate your vision into a complete branding package for your company - from the logo to the website to packaging and marketing materials. Check out the portfolios of Shopify design experts to find a designer whose work suits your taste.

Writing a business plan for your jewelry brand

Unless you want to present your idea to potential investors or are looking for other forms of debt financing, a formal business plan may not be necessary. However, it can be good practice to better understand your target customers, goals, business model, costs, and growth plan.

Reading tip: Here we show you how to create a business plan and which template you can use for it.

Production: How to make jewelry

What do you need to make your own jewelry? How you will develop your products (by hand or in a manufacturing facility, at home or off site) will depend on the complexity of the design, price, materials and skills required. In this section we're going to discuss how you can make jewelry in four different ways:

  1. Handmade jewelry production: fine jewelry
  2. Handmade jewelry production: fashion and costume jewelry
  3. Jewelry production: outsourced manufacturing
  4. Jewelry production: print on demand

1. Handmade jewelry production: fine jewelry

The production of fine and unique jewelry can be one of the most complex, but also one of the most personal and versatile production methods. Depending on the material and design, some methods of this type of jewelry making require special training / certification and expensive equipment. These methods include:

  • soldering
  • Silver / goldsmithing
  • to water
  • 3D printing
  • Laser cut
  • Leather processing
  • weaving
  • Gemstone setting

If you're not sure which path is right for you, you should start with free online tutorials. Once you know which area to study, you can invest in paid classes or apprenticeship with a skilled artisan to improve your skills.

2. Handmade jewelry production: fashion and costume jewelry

Handmade costume jewelry often consists of pre-existing elements (chains, wire, beads, cast pendants, etc.) and does not require any special training or equipment beyond simple hand tools.

This type of business is easier to scale because you can purchase items in bulk and create templates for employees to manufacture.

If design and production are the elements of your business that you enjoy, consider outsourcing other tasks or hiring people to scale your creative work. Biko founder Corrine turns to local universities with renowned fashion communication programs to find their interns. “I'm not looking for someone who's into design,” she says. "I need someone who can help me to buy time so that I can design more myself."

3. Jewelry production: outsourced manufacturing

Instead of making the jewelry with your own hands, you could have someone else make your designs. This is not ideal for fine, custom jewelry, but can be an inexpensive alternative for costume jewelry that is produced in large quantities. There are two main options for outsourcing:

Local manufacturing

➕ advantages

  • Local reference
  • Possibly faster / more reliable shipping
  • Easier review of reputation and relationship building
  • More opportunity to check (factory visits)

➖ Cons

  • Higher cost
  • Less choice (fewer manufacturers, limited materials)
  • Possible limitation of the production volume

Manufacturing overseas

➕ advantages

  • Lower cost
  • Often more options in terms of materials and processes
  • Scalability to larger volumes

➖ Cons

  • Communication barriers (culture, language, time zones)
  • Less supervision and control
  • The minimum requirements can be high
  • Different standards in terms of manufacturing and ethics

When outsourcing to external manufacturers, precise sketches or 3D renderings are usually necessary. There are several options, depending on your level of knowledge and budget:

  • Manual design tools: Pencils, sketch paper, jewelry design templates (€)
  • General 2D or 3D design software:
    Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketchup (€€)
  • Jewelry-specific design software (best for fine jewelry):RhinoGold, MatrixGold, (€€€)

4. Jewelry production: Print-on-Demand:

The most convenient production method is to upload your designs to a print-on-demand app. Your original designs are printed in 3D or reproduced in stainless steel, wood, plastic, gold or silver and sent directly to your customers.

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Set up your studio or workspace

If you choose to make your jewelry yourself, you will need a workshop area for you and your team. When setting up this area, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Consider the flow of space, especially if manufacturing involves multiple steps. Ideally, you move from one station to the next in a logical order.
  • Some chemicals or tools used in jewelry making require adequate ventilation and safety precautions. Find out about the applicable laws governing the use of these substances and processes.
  • Well-organized storage with different compartments is essential for small parts.

"A jewelry bank, a high-speed multi-tool, and safety are the most important considerations," says Gillian, founder of the Canadian jewelry brand Hawkly. “The multi-tool is a great and versatile tool that you can use to drill, grind, and polish your workpieces.” She also advises wearing a face mask and protective goggles. If you have long hair, pull it back so that it doesn't get caught.

If your production team is larger or your needs are a little more complex (like metalworking or silversmithing workshops), consider commercial spaces outside of your home. If this exceeds your budget at the start, you can look around for a shared studio or share the costs for space and equipment with other creative people. Gillian shares her studio with two other companies.

The sharing of spaces also helps against the loneliness of entrepreneurs, something Corrine knows very well herself. "After building my brand full-time for a while, I ended up working in a clothing store once a week so I wasn't always at home alone in my studio."

Reading tip: Many traditional craft businesses now sell on Shopify, including goldsmiths. Here we introduce you to a few.

Jewelry equipment and tools

There are several online resources for obtaining tools and accessories for jewelry making, including precious gemstones and raw metals.

When it comes to her wholesale suppliers, Gillian relies heavily on word of mouth. “Don't be afraid to ask other designers where they can find their material,” she says.

She also visits trade fairs and industry events to expand her network and discover new materials. "My favorite place to find the latest gems and silver components is at the Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show," says Gillian. "Thousands of suppliers from all over the world are exhibiting here."

Photography for jewelry brands

We have emphasized it many times: Product photography can make or break the success or failure of your online shop. In many cases, with a very simple lighting setup, you can get great DIY photos of your products, even with your smartphone. However, jewelry can be a bit more of a challenge due to the tiny details and reflective surfaces.


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Don't skimp on photography.

Corinne Anestopoulos, Biko

“Don't skimp on photography,” Corrine emphasizes, even if you're only on a small budget. A professional photographer is skilled at handling models and setting up complicated lighting. Other members of your photo shoot team are stylists, make-up artists and assistants.

Booking models doesn't have to break the budget. “There are always people who want to build their portfolio or are willing to work in exchange for the product,” she says. “It's not about taking advantage of people. If you bring a group of committed people together and bundle your strengths, you can create something really magical together. "

When taking your photos, it is also important that you offer several different views and angles of your products within the following two categories:

  • Detail / product photos taken on a clean background, minimize the distraction and bring out the details and different angles of the piece. These photos can create a clear and uniform appearance on category pages.
  • Lifestyle photos with a model show the scale on the body and suggest styling ideas to the customer. This is also great for cross-selling (you can encourage customers to combine multiple pieces into one look). These shots can work on product pages or in a lookbook and are generally better suited for social media posts.

Are you looking for other ways to cut costs? Work with clothing brands to cut photo costs. You could also rent your pieces to fashion editors for photo shoots in exchange for product photos and exposure.

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