How to Start a Jewelry Business

Small businesses need big ideas—especially when entering one of the world’s most lucrative and competitive marketplaces.

You see, there are 2 types of people who start a jewelry business: The artist and the entrepreneur.

But if you want to sparkle in this business, you need to be both.

And, it wouldn’t hurt to learn how to get in the jewelry business fast, establish your brand, and build a community of adoring fans who eagerly await each new design you create, would it?

Continue on, and we’ll tell you how to start a jewelry business that’s a cut above the rest.

1. Define your niche (jewelry style)

Your first step in establishing your jewelry business is defining your niche. This will help you identify your target audience, enabling you to create marketing strategies that successfully engage and connect with them.

So, what’s yours?

If you design jewelry, then it’s your style that influences your niche. If you’re not a designer but a vendor, then it’s the type of jewelry you intend on selling and the sector of the market you’re selling to.

Whatever your niche, it must be crystal-clear.

One of the many beautiful things about the jewelry business is the endless retail possibilities, due to the vast range of jewelry types. Fortunately, for simplicity’s sake, most fall under 3 main categories: Costume jewelry, handmade jewelry, and fine jewelry.

Costume Jewelry

This niche was valued at $32.9 billion in 2019 and it’s expected to grow to $59.7 billion by 2027! The costume jewelry market is a viable business opportunity with huge profit potential.

Also known as fashion jewelry, costume jewelry is made from semi-precious stones, simulated diamonds, beads, plastic, wood, brass, and many other metals.

Handmade Jewelry 

If you want a niche that’s as unique as your designs, then handmade jewelry is for you.

With websites like Amazon Handmade, Etsy, Aftcra, Artfire, Folksy, and ShopHandmade, it’s never been easier for creative artists to reach a global audience, and the demand for handmade jewelry has soared because of it.

Fine Jewelry 

Fine jewelry is made of solid gold, platinum, sterling silver, and other precious metals and gemstones such as real diamonds, rubies, sapphires, etc. This type of jewelry is of high quality and often has a price tag to match.

It’s a booming market, with fine jewelry products ranging from $100 to $10,000 and more, depending on materials, their size, and the brand selling them. (But with the high price tag comes expensive setup costs, which we’ll talk more about later in the post.)

Identifying trends and micro niches 

You can also find your niche by staying up to date with the latest jewelry trends, through following fashion blogs, industry publications, and of course, influencers. And, you can find a micro-niche by focusing on a particular audience or jewelry for a specific occasion, such as prom, weddings, anniversaries, etc.

Doing so enables you to focus your branding, marketing strategies, and resources, so it’s an excellent way of entering the jewelry business.

OK, you have your niche; what’s next?

Now, you’ve got to dig deep and find your audience:                                                                                                    

2. Zero in on your audience

Your jewelry might be beautiful, and there could be a massive demand for it, but you can’t sell (or it will be more difficult) if you don’t know who the audience is that you’re selling to. And before you start your business, it’s always a good idea to ensure there’s a viable market for your jewelry (a wanting audience)—one that’s preferably not overly-competitive or saturated.

But there’s a problem!

Are you now asking “How can I conduct audience research when I don’t have an audience?”

If so, you’re right; it’s a chicken and egg type of scenario.

The solution is developing a buyer persona:

A buyer persona is a fictionalized representation of your perfect target audience, or those you believe will buy your style of jewelry. Some key characteristics to include in your buyer persona are:

Age, gender, location, family, job title, income, day-to-day lifestyle, possible hobbies and interests, and the jewelry styles they might prefer. Also, consider any pieces you’ve made in the past; did any sell particularly well, and to whom?

Once you have a better understanding of your dream client, you can zone in on that elusive audience research!

Here’s how:

Your buyer persona may be fictional, but your target audience is as authentic as the Koh-I-Noor diamond. And so are the e-commerce platforms and marketing channels they use to research and buy products that are similar to yours.

You find those platforms by doing the following:

Observe your competitors: A proven tactic for locating your audience is to look at your competitors. Start with Google, check out the top listing websites for your niche, and look for any marketing strategies they’re using, such as web design styles, images, videos, keywords, and of course, social media.

Research your competitors’ social media channels: Odds are, your competitors are using Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms to run marketing campaigns and increase brand awareness. Find their accounts and look at their comments, replies, and testimonials.

Most will be of people wearing the jewelry, giving you an insight into your audience’s demographic! You can also check the Facebook Ads Library to see which campaigns your competitors are currently running.

Top tip:

If you really want to deep-dive into this research, you can use BuzzSumo to find out which platforms are working best for your competitors. Simply insert keywords relevant to your industry, and BuzzSumo will provide a list of the most shared content across every social network, including engagement levels

Bonus tip:

As your audience research tells you which platforms customers use for purchasing, you now know where to advertise. But the real bonus is, you’ve also found your competitors!

I’ll tell you why that’s important next:

3. Scope out the competition

It’s important to scope out the competition in your niche to ensure you can compete and gain a competitive advantage. And, you do that by conducting a competitor analysis.

Competitor analysis is a research strategy that identifies who your main competitors are, their main products, sales statistics, and what marketing strategies they’re using. But it also tells you what their strengths and weaknesses are, in order to point you toward your own competitive edge.

 Here’s how to conduct competitor analysis:

  1. Identify your competitors
  2. Research their products
  3. Check out their pricing
  4. Research their sales strategies
  5. Review and match their shipping costs
  6. Research how they market their products
  7. Analyze their content strategy and engagement rates
  8. Find which social media platforms they use and engagement strategies

Top tip:

To find your competitors’ Achilles heel, look at their reviews on third-party sales platforms, such as Amazon, Etsy, and Artcra; this is where you’ll discover unedited customer reviews. Look for any recurring complaints about the seller or their product.

Your goal is to find something you can improve: Shipping times, product quality, customer service, or a missed marketing opportunity. Whatever it is, hone in on it, improve it, then use it to your advantage.

Once you know your niche, audience, and competition, you’re almost half-way to starting a successful jewelry business.

But the next step is where a lot of budding entrepreneurs fade like a cheap rhinestone.

If you want to shine, you’ve got to check your finances:

4. Check your finances 

It pays to check your finances before you begin your jewelry business because it gives you an understanding of your operating costs. This will help you define your price points, ensuring you turn a profit.

Your first question should be: How much does it cost to start a jewelry business?

The answer, of course, depends on several factors, such as:

  • The business model you’re registering – LLC, Corporate, Sole Proprietorship, or Partnership
  • The type of jewelry you’re selling – Custom, handmade, or fine jewelry.
  • Where you plan on selling it – e-commerce store? Brick and mortar? Or a combination of both?

All three will determine your costs. Then, you can project your annual expenses and determine the amount you’ll need to start and run your business until it’s turning a profit.  

To get a handle on your monthly outgoings, consider these expenditures:

  • Material costs
  • Tools and equipment
  • Rent
  • Website fees
  • Licenses and permits
  • Quarterly and annual accountancy fees and taxes
  • Annual insurance fees
  • Advertising and marketing costs

Financing:

No one wants to go into debt when starting a business, but if you need to, and you’ve done your research correctly, it can be worth it. Some ways to obtain a loan are through your local bank, in the form of a commercial loan; an SBA (small business loan) obtainable online; crowdsourcing; and of course, friends and family.

Now that your finances are in order, it’s time to find your profitable platforms:

5. Decide where you will sell 

One of the most crucial decisions you’ll make is where to sell your products. The good news is, your options have never been more varied, lucrative, and affordable.

For many, the obvious question is, how do I start an online jewelry business?

And, it’s the right one to ask, because you no longer need the overhead of opening a physical store to build a successful jewelry business. But even if you are going local, you should still be looking at utilizing the power of e-commerce.

Let’s look at your options:

Have you thought about how to start a jewelry business on Instagram?

You should, as Instagram is driven by images, which of course, suits jewelry. It also enables sellers to build a brand and a loyal community in record time.

Another excellent feature about social media platforms like Instagram is they allow you to link your images directly to your website—which is a free and powerful way to drive traffic and reduce marketing costs.

But there’s more good news. 

Jewelry is easy and affordable to store and ship, which means low overhead and unlimited opportunities for the entrepreneurial seller.

You can sell on numerous third-party websites—some with in-house shipping—such as Amazon Handmade, Etsy, Aftcra, Artfire, Folksy, and ShopHandmade. However, to maximize your revenue and create a famous brand, you need a website.

Your website:

You now have affordable and easy-to-use e-commerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce (or Tailor Brands!) that enable you to build a professional-looking website quickly. An added bonus is they also provide analytical reports for traffic and sales and inbuilt features that help you promote your store.

And, there are website-hosting platforms like WordPress that are easy to use and come with customizable templates that integrate seamlessly with e-commerce platforms.

But you can’t sell without stock, right? Here’s how you can get your production line up and running:

6. Set up your production line

Your production line requirements depend on two things: Jewelry type and the quantity you want to sell. If you’re creating handmade jewelry, you can make it in-house; all you need are the right jewelry-making tools and your imagination.

But suppose you’re designing with your eye on mass production. In that case, you’re going to need to outsource, either locally or overseas.

Making jewelry in-house:

A common question asked by newbies to the jewelry business is: Is it profitable to make jewelry? Well, according to every online statistic for 2020, the answer is yes.

And you can make all 3 jewelry categories in-house, as long as you have the equipment, expertise, specialized training/certification for fine jewelry, and meet local safety standards and regulations.

Costume jewelry: You don’t require any specialized training and can start with only the necessary hand tools. And, it’s an easy business model to scale; you can purchase materials in bulk and hire people with limited experience at an affordable cost to meet demands.

Handmade jewelry: The training level depends on the design’s intricacy, as are the tools. And, as pieces are usually one-off or made to order, it’s a tricky business model to scale up.

Hand-crafted fine jewelry: If you’re creating fine jewelry with expensive raw materials, you’ll require specialized training, certificates of proof, costly equipment, and possibly license and permits. Scaling a business of this nature while keeping it in-house can be done, but finding experienced employees is no easy task. However, the rewards of creating a successful fine jewelry business are priceless.

Here are some in-house jewelry making tools:

  • Flat-Nose Pliers
  • Round-Nose Pliers
  • Nylon-Tipped Pliers
  • Wire Cutters (Toenail clippers work just as well)!
  • Flush Cutter
  • Ruler
  • Disk Punch
  • Jeweler’s Saw
  • Wire

Some skills you’ll need to master are:

  • Soldering
  • Silver/goldsmithing
  • Casting
  • Laser-cutting
  • Leather-tooling
  • Weaving
  • Gemstone-setting

Outsourced jewelry production:

If your aim is to sell globally on numerous platforms, you’ll have to outsource to meet demands. Outsourcing is most popular with fashion jewelry, especially if you’re sourcing from overseas. However, it is possible to outsource fine, custom, and handmade jewelry, but it’s advisable to keep it local.

Here’s why. 

Local manufacturing:

Pros: By keeping it local, you immediately have the “made locally” appeal to your product. You can build a close relationship with your supplier, keep a close eye on production standards, and avoid shipping, import tax, and other fees.

Cons: You’ll pay more due to labor costs and raw materials, have fewer manufacturers to choose from, and production volumes can be limited.

Overseas manufacturing:

Pros: A vast choice of manufacturers, lower labor, and raw material costs, more extensive choice of materials, and scalable production volumes.

Cons: Communication can be difficult. You’ll have to employ a third-party inspection company to maintain and assure quality control. MOQ’S (minimum order quantities) can be high. Shipping fees, import taxes, and fees are not cheap.

 Now that production is sorted, I’ve got a quick question—what’s your favorite jewelry brand?

Now think about their brand identity (if you don’t know what it is, we’ll get to this in a minute).  

Can you envision it?

OK, here’s how to create yours:

7. Develop your brand identity

Why is branding important?

The answer can be pretty complex, so let’s simplify it with an example.

A copywriter called Frances Gerety was once asked to write a tagline/slogan for De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd.

She wrote: “Diamonds are forever.”

And in doing so, she changed an industry forever and put De Beers on the jewelry map. This brilliant but straightforward tagline is a perfect example of why brand identity is essential.

It makes you memorable, recognizable, and trustworthy.

Create your brand personality: You create your brand’s personality by assigning it human characteristics, making you more than a faceless organization and giving your target audience something they can relate to.  

Find your brand voice: Your voice is every way you communicate with your target audience; it has to speak their language, be true to your style, and suit your brand’s personality.

Focus on brand imagery: Your brand imagery is everything consumers see and hear about your brand. It’s vitally important in today’s image-driven market and enables you to connect with your audience on numerous emotional levels. Isn’t that what jewelry is all about?

Consider your brand design elements: Brand design elements complement and reinforce your brand; you use them in your marketing to express your personality and voice and stand out in your niche. They include typography, colors, shapes, content, and of course, your logo. Let’s look at that next.

Your logo is more than just a pretty picture: In its physical form, a logo is a combination of text, shapes, color, and images. But its purpose is far more profound. When designed correctly, it conveys your brand’s story and instantly engages the viewer.

Perfect your social profile covers: Your social media cover is the photo on your social media profile pages. It’s a powerful way of communicating with your audience and should be consistent throughout to build familiarity.

Stand out with product packaging design: We all love a well-packaged product, especially if we’re giving a loved one a gift—and with jewelry, that’s 99% of the time. But packaging also helps you stand out from your competitors, so make it beautiful.

Now, you’re ready to enter your market and shine, but before you do, ensure success with this last step:

8. Create your marketing plan 

To successfully sell, you have to put your jewelry where your audience can find it, and you do that by creating a marketing plan.

You need a plan that reflects your hard work and ensures the success you deserve. The good news is, you have numerous platforms available to make that happen. 

Social media: Your audience and competitor research will tell you the social media platforms your target audience uses to buy jewelry like yours. The key to a successful social media marketing campaign is to post consistently, encourage engagement, share images and videos of your products, be natural, build a community, always reply to problems and comments, and provide value.

SEO: “Search engine optimization” is how you improve the quality and quantity of traffic to your website. Some ways of doing it are: Create a Google My Business Account, get and promote customer reviews, optimize your website for mobile and voice search, identify and use relevant keywords, and always create exciting, relevant content.

Influencers: An influencer is someone with a large following on social media, who you pay to promote your products. It’s a quick and effective strategy for getting your products seen by a wider audience who trust the influencer.

Jewelry publications: Of course, the old ways can still be the best, so don’t overlook advertising in jewelry publications. Some to consider are the Lapidary Journal, Jewelry Artist, Metalsmith, American Craft, Gems & Gemology, Rock & Gem, Bead & Button, Beadwork, Vogue Accessory.

Time to dazzle 

We hope our guide on how to start a jewelry business has given you the inspiration you need to turn your jewelry business dreams into a reality.

Take each step one at a time, polishing them until they shine.

Most of all, don’t leave people waiting; start selling now.

The world is waiting to wear your creations!

About the author

Terry O' Toole
+ posts
Terry O'Toole is a freelance writer, scuba instructor, and serial entrepreneur who spends most of his life sailing from one country to another, starting businesses as he goes. He has no plans to stop and believes we're here to live our dreams and fulfill our potential and tries to inspire and help others to believe it too. When not doing that, you'll find him kicking back on his boat, perfecting the art of Wu Wei.
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