Question

I received a question via e-mail from a jewelry maker last week:  A company is interested in consigning her handcrafted jewelry, but she didn’t know where to start.

What should she do?

The answer is: There is no easy answer.

On the one hand, I disagree fundamentally of the idea of consigning handmade jewelry to anyone.  To me, “consignment” is what you do with that old framed picture of the dogs playing poker you finally decided to get rid of, or that box of old clothes your kids outgrew years ago.

In other words, consignment strikes me as something you do when you don’t believe you can sell the item yourself. Based on that understanding, then some jewelry makers may still decide to consign their jewelry IF they believe that the person selling it will sell it better than the jewelry maker.

Also, the more people in between you and the buyer, the less you make. Why? Because having a “middle man” selling your jewelry doesn’t increase the value of the jewelry, it just adds someone into the mix who you have to share your profits with.

Finally, there is the “opportunity cost” — if someone else has your jewelry, you cannot sell it, but you still have invested the time and expenses into those pieces. If the consigner sells everything, that’s great! But if they don’t, it’s possible you would have sold those pieces to someone else, and you can’t if they are being consigned.

Does that man you should NEVER consign your jewelry? No, but it may be in situations where you have leftover pieces/old designs you would like to sell but wouldn’t miss if they didn’t sell.  You may be better off taking those pieces apart if you can and using them for another piece.

If you do decide to consign your jewelry, be aware that the “deal” you make with one shop may be very different than what your peers are doing with someone else. There is no standard to go by, so you will need to know what you must make on each piece in order to be profitable in consigning it. Also, make sure that whatever agreement you make — around commissions, the amount of time the person has to sell it and more — that things are put in writing and signed by both parties. Although this may seem a little formal, it makes sure there is mutual agreement. If someone agrees to something but refuses to put it in writing, I question how seriously they back up their words.

What consignment agreements have you entered into in the past? Would you do it again? Any tips for others? Post a comment!