Making Jewelry:
Producing in Quantity

Making jewelry in quantity. Once you have designed some products and have done your marketing test to prove that they can be made and sold at a profitable price, it is time to begin to produce them in quantity.

Making jewelry in quantity has its advantages and disadvantages. Let's look at these both separately:

    Advantages

    • Savings in the purchase of raw materials and supplies since they can be bought in larger quantities.
    • More effective use of production time.
    • Ability of retail stores to reorder items that they know are good sellers.
    • If you have an item that sells well, you can increase sales potential by increasing your supply of them.
    • Making jewelry in quantity helps to develop and perfect techniques and skill.

    Disadvantages

    • Maintaining Quality Control. Whether you are working on your first piece or 100th the same high standard of quality should be maintained through out your whole production run.
    • Boredom. Producing the same thing over and over can become very tiresome and boring.
    • Repetitive tedious work can make you feel that you are not using your full creative talents.
    • Cost. Can you afford to invest in larger inventories?
    • Storage. Do you have the space to store not only your raw materials but also your finished goods?
    • Over Producing. Many crafters will produce a large quantity of an item before test marketing it, and then find out after that it is not a profitable nor salable product.

The Production Process

In setting up to work on a particular item, think through the production sequence, then break it into step by step procedures. Most jewelry pieces naturally have a logical sequence of production steps to follow. For instance: A beaded dangle bracelet, obviously, can't have the clasp attached until the beads are strung, and the beads can't be strung until all the dangles are made.

To produce in quantity, the important questions are:

  • How many steps should be performed at the same time?
  • Can any operations be simplified or combined?

Who would dream, for example, of making a total of 20 beaded dangle bracelets one at a time? It would be a clear waste of time and money to make enough dangles for one bracelet, sting them and the beads on wire, then attach a clasp, make enough dangles for another bracelet, sting them and the beads on wire, then attach a clasp. make enough dangles for yet another bracelet, sting them and the beads on wire, then attach a clasp.

Making enough dangles for 20 bracelets at one time, stringing them all together, then attaching the clasps all at once in an assembly-line style expedites the process and keeps you from wasting time jumping from one job to another. By repeating the same action you establish a rhythm that makes it faster and more efficient, reducing the production time, and thereby increasing profits.

Once you have broken down your production sequence into the various steps, your next question is: How can you rearrange your materials and equipment to make the process more efficient? If you have the space, set up a work station for each stage of production with the proper equipment, tools and supplies needed.

Even if the items are not exactly alike you can save time by working on the different stages at time. For example, if you make several different styles of bracelets but all with dangles, strung and clasp attached, then batch them all together when working on the different stages. Make all your dangles, string them all together, then attach all the clasps at once. After they are all put together you can then work on the individual details for each one.

Producing in LARGE Quantities

Once you have the production process down pat, you may decide to increase you sales by booking more shows or taking larger wholesale orders, therefore increasing your production runs.

When increasing your production runs there are a few things to take into consideration:

  • Scheduling Time
    While making jewelry time is a crucial factor in planning for large production runs. If a particular step in your production process takes about three minutes, and you usually produce 25 pieces at a time, then you would normally schedule about one hour and twenty-five minutes to complete this step. If you increase your run to 200 units, this seemingly insignificant step will now take ten hours to complete. The hardest thing about scheduling high production runs is estimating the time required to complete them.
  • Trying to produce too much at once.
    An important factor to keep in mind when making jewelry in quantity is the amount of items you can work on at one time. It is easy to get carried away with trying to produce too much at once. The goal is to work with the largest run that you can handle efficiently.

    Only experience will tell you what is best for you. Producing too many items at one time can be discouraging—instead of feeling that you are making progress and will be done soon, you feel that you will never finish. As a result, your production actually slows down. Space could also be a problem if your are producing in very large quantities.

    When making jewelry consider the optimal amount of products to work on at one time, it is important that you produce a few more than you really need to allow for mistakes and broken pieces.

  • Availability of Materials and Supplies.
    Purchasing your materials and supplies from a local supplier may not have been a problem when ordering in small quantities. But, before you increase your production run be sure your supplier can provide you with the quantities you need.

    This can be a major problem if you start your production process and then find out half way through that some of the materials you need are unavailable—your production run is worthless until it is completely finished.

  • Cost
    Once you have found out that all the materials and supplies you need are available, your next step to think about is the cost of these materials.

    Before you can increase your production run in making jewelry you must purchase all the raw materials needed to finish the job. So now comes the problem of the initial cash outlay. Can you afford to tie up your money in a large inventory long before any sales are made? Or do you even have the money to buy the quantity of materials needed and still afford to pay your booth fees?



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