Tuesday, October 6, 2020

5 Questions You Might Be Afraid to Ask About Handmade Jewelry

I remember when I first started exploring the possibilities of handmade jewelry. Like a lot of people, I was used to buying my jewelry from a department store, where there were many copies of the same design, probably machine-made, and you could easily tell which designs were popular based on how many were left on the shelf. With handmade jewelry, however, it was harder to tell which pieces were going to be "in", because a lot of handmade jewelry is unique and one-of-a-kind. Why should I buy handmade?, I wondered. What's the difference? I was too hesitant to ask any of the jewelry artists at the craft fairs, though, for fear of offense, and stuck to Googling and figuring stuff out on my own.

If you're like me and have the same questions, lucky you! I came up with five questions that I had when I got serious about buying jewelry and making jewelry, and I answer them the best I can with my own experience and knowledge. :)


Does the quality differ from machine-made jewelry?

Since handmade jewelry is made individually or in small batches, I'd say yes - in a good way. As both a buyer and a maker, I find that handmade jewelry is often of higher quality because it receives more individual attention than something made on an assembly line.

Why buy handmade? Why is it better than machine-made?
Well, the question of whether handmade is better than machine-made or not is up for debate. I have some machine-made pieces that I adore and wear often. However, I prefer handmade due to the close relationship it has to the maker. With a handmade piece, someone designed and crafted it, and if my experience is anything to go by, they probably put a lot of time and effort into it. Undoubtedly, work goes into machine-made pieces, but...I dunno. I just feel like the maker has a closer relationship to their handmade pieces than someone in a factory does to the pieces that they make, and that relationship is part of why I, personally, prefer handmade. With handmade, you can often get the piece customized, tailored to fit you and your tastes, or personalized with engravings or stamps.

Isn't handmade more expensive?
Sometimes. At the risk of sounding glib, it really depends on the piece. Remember, though, that you're not just buying the piece - you're paying for the artistry and expertise that made it, the time that went into sourcing the materials and learning the technique, let alone the material and labor cost. Some consider jewelry to be art, where they're also buying the emotional connection that they feel to the piece.

Why should I buy your jewelry when I can make it myself?
Great question! I wondered something similar, years ago, when I realized that I could learn how to make my own pieces. I fully encourage people to get creative and hands-on, as a maker - but as a seller, I also remind people that when you buy one of my pieces, you don't have to spend all the time learning the techniques and the tricks and the trial-and-errors - I already did all that for you. ;) When you buy a piece of my jewelry, you're paying for twenty years (so far) of experience.

What's the difference between fine/fashion/costume jewelry?
This really could be its own post, honestly. In short, fine jewelry is the fancy stuff - the precious gemstones, the fine metals, and solid workmanship, with the price tag to match. Costume jewelry is often inexpensive materials made quickly, and may not be the highest quality - but it doesn't cost much to buy. Fashion jewelry, however, is kind of a bridge between the two: it usually has the craftsmanship of the fine jewelry, with less expensive materials (semi-precious stones and glass beads, with silver-filled or gold-filled metal, or more common metals like copper). Actually, I believe "bridge jewelry" is another term for fashion jewelry. This is what I make - I appreciate the artisanal qualities of fine jewelry, and the wearability of costume jewelry, so I seek to "bridge" the gap with my own pieces.

I hope you find this useful! Do you have any questions about handmade jewelry, fashion jewelry, or anything along those lines? Drop your question in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer it!

Catch you on the flip side,
~Fern