Why Is Handcrafted So Expensive?

When I present Buckaroo Bling at in-person events, I often hear a question that sounds more like a complaint, "Why is handcrafted so expensive?"

The fact that what's expensive to one person is cheap to another aside, most of those who question prices of handcrafted items don't fully understand all that goes into making something by hand. So today, I'll try to explain the not-so-obvious costs and processes that go into creating a piece of our bling to help you understand why our prices are the way they are.

First, the obvious: COST OF RAW MATERIALS.

Here at Buckaroo Bling, we use quality materials: sterling silver, genuine American mined turquoise, other semi-precious gemstones, real leather, and occasionally real aspen leaves. The price of silver changes daily depending on market trends, and for the most of 2022, it has hovered between $19 and $25 per ounce. Genuine natural gemstones aren't cheap either. One can expect to pay upwards of $80 (and more often than not, upwards of $100) for one strand of genuine, American mined turquoise beads, and that is wholesale pricing. The price of deer leather - which we use in our designs - has increased by about 10% in 2022 as well.

Now, in order to make a pair of earrings for example, I first need to spend time thinking about the design and sketching it, making sure that what I envision can be made from materials I have in mind (each metal behaves differently when bent, coiled, hammered, or otherwise worked with). And, that's just the beginning of LABOR COSTS.

Once I have all the raw materials on hand and all the design kinks worked out, I need to make - by hand - components for that particular design, and then assemble them into the finished design. Depending on the design complexity, time needed to make one piece of bling from raw materials ranges anywhere from 15 minutes to upwards of 4 hours. Now, minimum wage in the United States for basic, unskilled labor is $7.25 per hour right now. Jewelry making is by no means unskilled work! It requires both knowledge and very specific skills that take a 2 or 4 year college degree or a couple of years of hands-on apprenticing with a master jeweler to start with. Then, those skills are honed over the years to where one becomes a master of certain jewelry making techniques. You've heard the old adage that time is money... And, we can't even dream of covering the cost of all that time through our product prices.

So now, we have our piece of jewelry made, but when it is sold, we can't just put it into customer's hand and say, "There ya go! It's yours now." If I sell my bling at in-person events, the piece needs to be protected from damage until the customer brings it home. Enter tissue paper, jewelry pouches, and bags. If on the other hand, the sold item needs to be shipped, I have to make sure it doesn't get damaged while tossed and squished by postal service on the way. Depending on the type of piece being mailed, that protection would include a jewelry card or box, tissue paper, pouch or bag, padding material (e.g. bubble wrap), and an envelope or box to ship the piece in. So, yes, PACKAGING COSTS can definitely add up.

I'm not even going to mention SHIPPING COSTS - we all know those increase every single year. There are also other costs: PRINTING COSTS for business cards and care instructions - the recipient needs to know where the piece came from, how to properly care for it, and who to contact if a repair is needed; CREDIT CARD PROCESSING FEES for every order the customer pays with a credit card or PAYPAL FEES if the order is paid for through PayPal; annual DOMAIN REGISTRATION and WEB HOSTING FEES so customers can find our bling and shop online, or BOOTH FEES if we sell at in-person events; and so on, and so forth.

Last but not least, we small business owners have homes and families to take care of too. We can't simply sell our wares at a price that equals only the sum of our costs involved in creating the products. That doesn't put food on the table and it doesn't pay monthly bills. Still, most of us understand that the money you spend on our products is hard earned money too, and we appreciate your choosing to spend it with us.

That said, I've got a proposal for you. Let's not blame each other for "overpricing" or for "being miserly." Instead, let's - in our minds - step into each other's shoes and try to see the other side of the proverbial coin. Let's resolve to be kind to each other even when we don't fully understand what the other person is going through. So, the next time you're walking through a handcrafted market or other in-person event, if you can't afford the price of something that caught your eye, don't tell the maker that their prices are too high. Instead, thank them, compliment them on the design, smile graciously, and walk away. That way, the maker won't be tempted to brand you a miser. That's a win-win situation, don't you think?

Now that you know the gist of what all goes into making a piece of our bling, check our shop to see if anything catches your eye.


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