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Jewelry Appraisals

Posted by learntobead on July 28, 2011

Jewelry Appraisals

Homeowners insurance rarely covers the full value of jewelry, in the event of loss or theft.

To cover the full value of your fine jewelry or collectible art jewelry, you should have a professional appraiser evaluate each piece, and then have it covered by your insurance as a separate policy or attachment to your current policy.

Choosing A Qualified Appraiser

Check out the following:
1. Educational Background.    Certified gemologist?  Certified jewelry appraiser?   Training by American Society of Appraisers?

2. Does the jewelry appraiser follow the Uniform Standard of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)?  Not a requirement, but a good indicator of quality.

3. Works full time as an appraiser.

4. Associated with a jewelry store or manufacturer

5. Ask for references.   Especially from other professionals, such as banks, lawyers, or trust companies.

6. How does the appraiser charge? The fee for a professional appraisal should only be on an hourly rate or a piece rate based on time and complexity, and never a percentage of the value of the item appraised.

Be prepared to give the appraiser any documentation you have, such as receipts.
Be prepared to be charged a flat fee up front, typically $50.00 or more.
Verify with your insurance company how often they require appraisals, for the insurance to remain valid.


Valuing Costume Jewelry

Most costume jewelry has little inherent value because it is not made from precious metals or with precious stones.

So, the value of costume jewelry has to do with such things as:

Re-Sale Value

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Any Lessons To Learn From Nail Polish Trends?

Posted by learntobead on July 1, 2011

Any Lessons To Learn
From Nail Polish Trends?

From Alllacqueredup.com

I read this article recently in the NYT, how women are using many more colors of nail polish than the traditional reds and pinks, and that the use of the full color palette of nail polish colors is getting very institutionalized and accepted.

The writer offers a point of view here for discussion.   Her main point, is that in an era of a weak economy, Chanel nail polish offers at a much lower cost the same cache as purchasing the more expensive Chanel perfume or clothing.   People still want status and the qualities associated with it.   They can not afford the top of the line items they used to.

Many of us are in the business of selling jewelry.     In this economy, how do we survive and thrive as a jewelry design business?   How do we preserve our brand — especially if most of what we sell is on the high-end side?

Is it enough to lower our price points?  Or must we also maintain very visible links and symbols to ideas of status, quality and sophistication?    And if we are to stand out from the pack, should we push things like out of the ordinary colors, textures and patterns?   How far do we push things like color, texture and pattern, to get noticed?   How far can we push these kinds of things, and still be accepted?


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Tiffany Video

Posted by learntobead on March 12, 2011

Tiffany Video
Opening of their Flagship Beijing Store



On October 29, Tiffany lit up the night sky in a groundbreaking extravaganza. In anticipation of the December 2010 opening of the new Tiffany Beijing flagship, a breathtaking display was projected onto the store’s façade, with jewels coming to life in astounding 4-D.

This is a great video.  Runs 3 min 21 seconds.

These videos are also related to their Beijing opening:





Tiffany also makes some great marketing use of YouTube.    Here’s where you’ll find some of their other videos:





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Posted by learntobead on December 16, 2010

A message from David Chatt

David Chatt recently sent out an email calling attention to his current project, and requesting financial support.

This project and this process for finding support of one’s creative self are fascinating.    We have a professional campaign for personal philanthropy.   We have a coordinated marketing effort with an email campaign and a facebook presence.

I wanted to share this with you.      You may want to make a worthy donation to his cause.     You may also want to learn from his successes.

David wrote:


At some point in the past  you expressed interest in what I have been doing, specifically about my writing a book.  Well for the past three years I’ve been living in North Carolina doing an artist residency at Penland School of Crafts.  I am now working on a large finale piece.  a 2000 pound window for the front of my house. I am going to be blogging  and posting on Facebook about it as I make progress. I invite you to become a fan of the Community Crow by joining my fan page on Facebook.   I am including a link to a video I have done to introduce this project… fair warning, United States Artists, where you will find this video and a link to my blog, is helping me to raise money for this project.  Fear not, while I am welcoming all donations, you need not feel obliged, and I welcome your interest whether it comes with a donation or just good wishes.  I hope this finds you well.


You can find some more requests from other artists, craftspersons and performance artists for “Personal Philanthropy” on this web-page:


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nOir Jewelry – Capturing a Fantastic Style

Posted by learntobead on December 2, 2010

nOir Jewelry – Capturing a Fantastic Style

nOir Jewelry is a phenomenal hit among the celebrity set, and a visit to their website shows you why.     Fantastic, imaginary pieces.

Leeora Catalan is the owner and designer of this 14 year old company.    She produces jewelry that is glamourous, fun and edgy at the same time.    She has produced special pieces for various clothing designers, musicians and actors.

From a marketing standpoint, how do you capture the excitement and thrill her pieces generate?

Let’s look at some of her pieces, and then look at one of her marketing ads, and compare.




And now the promotional ad:


Now, I’ve only presented a sample of her pieces, so it may not be fair to compare what I’ve shown to the ad-copy.     However, to me, the ad seems to showcase nOir as art deco jewelry.    But it seems to be so much more than that.    Her jewelry has power and artistry beyond deco.

What do you think?   How would you begin to get ahold of noir jewelry, from a marketing and ad-copy perspective?

With or without the marketing, it’s clear that Talent has found Talent.

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Posted by learntobead on April 27, 2010

Business and Jewelry Art

To what extent do (and should) business concerns influence the artistic choices bead and jewelry artists make?

I’d say “A Lot!”  But this isn’t what a lot of artists like to hear.

You have to market to audiences.   You may have to standardize things to be able to make the same thing over and over again.   You may have to work in a production mode and repeat making certain designs, rather than freely create and design anew each time.   You have to price things so that they will sell, and you have to price things so that you can make a sufficient profit.    You can’t undersell yourself, like offering discounts to family, friends and co-workers.

You have to conform to prevalent styles and colors and forms.    You have to make things that will photograph well for sale online.     You have to make things that local stores want and are willing to buy or put on consignment.    You may end up with a lot of “one size fits all.”

You find that if you want to make your jewelry design into a successful business, you may have to compromise with yourself, your artistic drives and sensibilities.    You may have to limit what you offer.    In order to make that sale.   In order to make a profit.   And stay in business.

Business involves:
– Putting your artwork on a sound cost/revenue footing
– Developing market-driven strategies (as opposed to product-driven ones)
– Pricing your pieces for sale
– Implementing various selling strategies
– Compromising artistic and design choices, in the interest of the business

Over and over again, I have seen one jewelry artist after another fail as a business.    The reasons repeat themselves as well.

1. A reluctance to learn how to conduct oneself as a business.    

Many jewelry artists get so excited after selling their first piece, that they think they don’t have to get too involved with business principles.      They understand their “business” as a “necklace-by-necklace” endeavor.   Make something, sell it.   Doesn’t matter what the price.   Doesn’t matter to whom.  Doesn’t matter if making the piece in the first place is in line with the resources you currently have to make the piece, or will drive you in debt in order to get those resources.

Artists need to focus on what’s called “Velocity”.   You need to have in place sufficient strategies for keeping the money turning over at a constant rate.   If you can’t maintain this rate, you  go in the hole.    You make something.  You sell it.  You reallocate the money you just made to reinvesting in more inventory, replacing the inventory you sold, evaluating the pros and cons of the sale that just happened, adjusting accordingly, and strategizing how to keep this velocity going at a constant, or ever-increasing, velocity.

And artists need to keep good records, and implement good accounting principles.

2.   Gets Bored.

People who get started are very excited.   They’ve made a lot of pretty pieces, and someone has bought some of them.    But then you need to leave your creative mode, and enter a production mode.   You need to discipline yourself to make the same things over and over again.   Many artists quickly lose interest.

3.  A fear of marketing your own things

You won’t succeed without marketing.   Marketing is more than advertising.  It includes all forms of self-promotion.  It includes doing research on your markets and market niches, how to reach them, how to get their attention, how to get them to translate this attention into needs and wants and desires, and how to get them to part with some money.    

Many artists are shy about self-promotion.    Time to train yourself, if this is you, to get over it.

4.  Trying to please all audiences

When people get started, they are reluctant to use the “No” word.    They want to please everyone.     But when you get started, you can’t.    It will put you out of business.

Let’s say you have some jewelry that is predominantly purple.   Someone at work loves the jewelry, but asks if you can make it in red.     If you don’t have an inventory of red beads, and will have to go out and buy them, it may make this sale foolish, from a business standpoint.   You can’t buy just one bead at a time; you need to buy strands or packages of these beads.   

When you start, you need to pursue a strategy of depth, rather than breadth.   You want to buy a limited number of pieces in large quantities to get adequate price breaks.   So, initially, your designs will be limited, as well.     You need to be able to say No.    No  to your family.  No to your friends.  No to the people you work with.

In my experience, such as the situation with red vs purple beads above, when you say No, the potential customer tends to make a face.     Pitiful.   Angry.   Frustrated.    Sad.   Pleading.      If you can wait 60 seconds, in almost every case, the customer stops making this face, and says, “OK, I’ll take what you have in purple.”      But so many jewelry artists can’t wait that 60 seconds.

And don’t give these people discounts.    They’re already getting it cheaper, than if they bought the same piece in a store.    One major way your business will get built up is word-of-mouth.   You don’t want some of that information to include extremely low price expecations that will never be self-supporting in your business.

5.  Doesn’t do homework on the competition

You need to understand how other jewelry artists you compete with function as a business.

How do they define their markets?
How do they price things?
What kinds of inventory do they carry?     What kinds do they NOT carry?
Where do they advertise?   How do they promote themselves?
How do they define their competitive advantage — that is, all the reasons people should buy from them, rather than from anyone else, like you?
Where do they sell things — stores, shows, fairs, online, etc?      What seems to work better for them?

You can find a lot of this out by Googling.     You can look for jewelry designers.  Directories of jewelry designers.    You can plug in a jewelry designer’s website, and see where they are listed, and who lists them.

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Using Beads/Jewelry As Economic Development Tool

Posted by learntobead on April 15, 2010

Using Beads and Jewelry
As Tools For Community and Economic Development

Recently, I read a column by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times entitled Partying to Change the World.

I wanted to share this link with you.

In the article Kristof discusses the work of BeadforLife.

Here two women created an economic support system based on the talents of African women who make beads from trash, and the profit-motive — selling the beads in finished jewelry at home parties in America, and reinvesting this money back in the local enterprises in Africa.  

Moreover, they developed an educational program about Africa for American schools.    The motivation was marketing, but the outcomes far exceed that.

Fascinating story and case study.    I meet many people each year who work with local villagers around the world, to help them find markets for their jewelry, better beading supplies for their craft, and strategies for improving productivity in their efforts.     Here’s a very full and flushed out operation to learn from.

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Consignment Selling – A Last Resort

Posted by learntobead on February 22, 2010

Over At The Consignment Shop

“She’s CHEATING ME!” the woman from Rhode Island screamed into the phone.    She could hardly catch her breath, the anger overtaking her ability to explain why she was calling.

“I read your article about Pricing and Selling on-line, and I’m not getting my $70.00 for my piece.”

She didn’t have to say anymore.   I knew right off the bat she was talking about CONSIGNMENT.     I recognize the anger.  The frustration.   The feeling that someone put something over on you, and you’re powerless to correct the situation.    You don’t know what to do.    You know the sweat, time and cost you put into all the pieces you let some stranger have, and now what do you do?

“I put 10 of my pieces of jewelry in her shop in Northern Rhode Island – not a big shop, no sales, except, this one piece sold, not in a major place,”  she continued, taking breath after breath, to get it all out, in some way that made sense, and some way that kept her from losing it.

“What do I Do?”   “She sold my piece for $70.00, and didn’t give me my money?”    “Should she have given me my money right away?”   “Should I take my jewelry out of her shop?”   “Should I never do consignment again?”   She peppered me with questions, not waiting for an answer.

She indicated that the store owner told her that she paid her artists 30 days after a sale.   Her customers had 30 days to return something.    If the store owner paid before that time, she would be out the money.     Store owners can set whatever policies they want, and in this case, I told the woman it was reasonable to wait 30 days, given the policy.

Of course, it had already been 7 weeks.

“Should she call her?”   Her husband told her not to call yet.   He didn’t want her to make waves, or ruin this opportunity to sell her jewelry.

“Call her,” I said.   If the store owner said 30 days, then 30 days it should be.

Consignment may be a necessary evil, especially when you are getting started in the jewelry making business.   But consignment is not the best situation to be in.    Most stores that accept consignment do not understand the consignment business.    As a result, when the time comes to pay the artists, there’s no cash flow.

In Consignment, the store is at greater risk than the artist.   The store has to make space available for the pieces, and forgo the opportunity to get something else in that retail-real-estate that might do better.    The store has to display the pieces, and keep them clean and presentable.   The store has to train its sales staff so that they have sufficient information and motivation to make the sale.   And, of course, there’s the tracking and accounting that goes with every consignment piece on sale.

Your best clue to whether a particular consignment situation is a good or better one, is the percentage split between the store or gallery owner and the artist.    Given the level of risk each party assumes, the optimum distribution is 60/40 with the store or gallery getting the larger amount.     But if the split is 40/60 or 50/50, this would be a acceptable sign as well.

However, when the split is 70/30 or 30/70 or outside this 60 and 40 range, yellow flags should go up.    This shows that the store or gallery owner is not aware of the level of risk in their business.    You probably won’t get paid on time, and not get paid without a lot of time spent yelling on the phone.    Your pieces won’t be maintained.  They won’t be displayed in a prominent place.   No one will be trained or motivated to sell your pieces.

Just because you confront a potentially bad consignment situation doesn’t necessarily mean that you should walk away.     There are a few prominent boutiques in Nashville that offer a 70/30 split between the store and the artist.    They rarely pay their artists when the pieces sell.     It takes a lot of screaming, “Bloody Murder!” before you get paid.    But these are very prominent shops.     Letting other stores and galleries know that you have pieces in these shops will open many doors for you.    You might view the delayed payments and the effort to get your money as “marketing expenses.”

Other reasons you might settle for a bad situation:
– You’re just getting started, and saying your pieces are in a shop anywhere has some marketing cache that goes with this
– You can direct customers to this shop.     At least you have a place to send people.   You might not have a central base from which to work.   Your main business might be doing craft shows, and here you can direct people to your jewelry between shows.
– This might be the only game in town.

But otherwise, if consignment doesn’t have some added value for you, you want to minimize your consignment exposure.

When you negotiate consignment terms with a shop, try to:

1) Get a feel for the amount of consignment they do (and how long they have been doing this), the range of artists, the range of types of merchandise on consignment, and the types of customers they have
2) Get a 60/40, 50/50 or 40/60 split
3) Work with store or gallery owner on final retail pricing of your pieces.
4) Get a written contract
5) Get in writing if possible, but an oral agreement would suffice, to convert the situation to “wholesale terms”, if you pieces sell well.   (Be sure to define what “selling well” might mean.)

6) Determine a specific date when to take your pieces out, or trade them out for new pieces.   Usually it’s good to trade them out every 3-6 months.
7) Determine exactly how and when you will get paid, after any one piece sells.    A 30-day waiting period is reasonable.

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The More The Community Supports Crafts…

Posted by learntobead on December 29, 2009

The More The Community Supports Crafts…
The More Crafts Resonate
As Products of the Human Hand

In most places across America, you will find a lot of crafts.     But also in most places, the quality of these crafts leaves much to be desired.   Often what you see are repetitions of things done elsewhere, little innovation, little risk-taking in artistic expression, poor to weak techniques, and little use of newer technologies.    

Crafts aren’t created in a vacuum.   They are created in social settings.    They require nurturing.  They require support.   They require a sense of expectations and where the “bar” is, and where the “bar” can be set.   When you see the same-old, same-old, it tells you alot.   It tells you alot, not only about local craft artistis, but the quality of life in the community you are in, as well.

In many places, crafts do not get that local support.    Crafts compete with arts, and arts get more attention, visibility and money.    The elites in many communities often try to associate themselves with arts, and disassociate themselves from crafts.     In my mind, there’s little difference.   But that’s in my mind.   What is important in each community is what is in other people’s minds.

It’s usually not crafts.

And some of this lack of local support has to do with long standing biases and assumptions about crafts.   Anyone can do crafts, it’s assumed.   But not everyone has the talent to do arts.    Crafts have too strong of country roots, and art with country roots is at best labeled Folk Arts.     Crafts that meet every definition of art get labeled Fine Crafts — that “art” label always elusive, somewhat unattainable.     Crafts somehow are seen as lacking sophistication.     And as such, people don’t ask how more crafts, better crafts, more integrative crafts, more reknowned crafts can contribute to the local community’s sense of identify, beauty, wealth and value.  

Crafts are often seen as some affirmation of things past — tribal and primitive ways of making things, historical connections from family to new family to new-new family and new-new-new family, and so on.      Arts are often seen as setting agendas — historical agendas, religious agendas, political and social agendas.    Craft choices seem fixed.      There are only so many ways to pot a ceramic toilet.    Art choices seem boundless.     You can never stop art.

And all these social attitudes and expectations stymie crafts.  

We have to change these.

We all have to become deputized advocates for crafts as art forms, and crafts as central and vital to any community’s aesthetic, as well as economic, health.   Crafts, craft artists, and their networks of activity can form the bases of community and economic development programs, tourism programs, neighborhood development programs, and neighborhood cooperation programs.

I live in Nashville, Tennessee, and it’s a great environment to see and experience all these kinds of  conflicts between crafts and arts, as well as the lack of understanding on the part of community and economic developers about the very positive roles crafts can play, and how the crafts infrastructure in the community may be leveraged.    

Nashville is very centrally located to all the myriad of crafts enterprises from the Gulf and Mississippi Rivers up to the Ohio River and out across the Appalachian Mountains and piedmonts and tidewaters beyond.   Pottery, wood, fiber, glass, beads, ceramics.    Berea, Kentucky.    The Appalachian Center for Crafts in Smithville, Tennessee.    Clarksdale, Mississippi.   Ashville, North Carolina.    Face pottery in the mountains of Georgia.   Yet, while you will find a lot of crafts in and around Nashville, you would hardly say that Nashville is a center for crafts.

The city promotes itself as Music City USA.      The city also promotes the arts.   It has tried to centralize art galleries along an Avenue of the Arts.   It has promoted the development of a center for traveling exhibitions of arts.    It has promoted public arts.    It uses the arts widely to raise funds and visibility for many causes.   

There is little promotion of crafts, however.    When Nashvillians meet and greet new people — “I’m from Nashville,”  — they often get a “Hee, Haw” in response.    To which they immediately lower their heads and apologize, and say something like “There’s more to Nashville than country music.”    They go on to point out the Symphony, and the Opera, and the Theatre.      The word “crafts”, when used in Nashville, too quickly gets associated with country crafts, and country fashion and humor, in an all too perjorative sense of the terms.

In one of the centrally located city parks, there are Crafts Fairs in the spring and fall.    But, in my opinion, they seem tired and lame.    You always see the same stuff.    You rarely see the use of new technologies.    The pieces are meant to be saleable to a broad audience.    But if you visit other cities and attend their crafts fairs — like St. Paul/Minneapolis, or Naples, Florida, or even the Peabody show in Memphis — you’ll see crafts that resonate from the life of the craftsperson, forms and shapes and colors and materials and textures and constructions which make you salivate.   You use all your senses to experience the fullness of everything — what a high!

But not in Nashville.

The major local newspaper has 3 arts editors, but refuses to cover crafts events.    Crafts are not art, and they have no place in the local newspaper.    Nashville, for awhile, had a major glass studio.    The studio had national and international glass artists teaching and demonstrating almost weekly.    They sold glassworks from around the world.     The Prism Gallery was on a mission for glassworks, and needed the support and visibility that newspapers could help generate.    But the newspaper refused to cover any event there.    And now Nashville’s loss is Providence, Rhode Island’s gain.    And the Prism Gallery is a local treasure there, supported by all — even the local newspapers.

Crafts should be seen as a tool for economic development in the community.   Only in this way, will it break out of its more hidden and overlooked stance.   Only in this way will the various segments of the community not look down or away, when you mention the word “crafts”.   Only in this way will there be pressures on craft artists to perform their endeavors in ways that excite people, motivate people, and encourage people to demand more and more crafts.

What does this mean?   In what kinds of ways can crafts be tools of economic development?

If I were looking at Nashville, Tennessee, I’d make these kinds of recommendations:

I. Build Upon What We Already Have, But Make It Better
a.  Up the evaluative bars on the existing local crafts fairs.   Include the kinds of crafts demonstrations that you would think the Smithsonian would want to videotape for posterity

b. Country Music tourism is one of the major forces of economic development in Nashville.     The city can better leverage “country crafts”, instead of denigrating these.
– Support a country crafts museum or exhibition center — show the best of the best, as well as exhibit all the kinds of humorous, “country-smarts”, crafts, if for no other reason that pure Einstein-level insight and cleverness, they would be a major tourist draw.
– Sponsor contests which promote the use of new technologies and ideas, in  crafts, country and otherwise
– Encourage local universities to research and document local or Southern crafts; teach classes in crafts; promote new technologies in crafts; exhibit crafts

c. Put pressure on local newspapers to cover craft artists

d. Encourage crafts galleries and studios along with the arts galleries and studios on the Avenue of the Arts; rename this area the Avenue of Arts and Fine Crafts

II.  Create New Things To Leverage Nashville’s Cultural Assets
a.   Create a Fine Crafts Museum, like that in Portland, Oregon.    Strongly link this museum to local unversities and crafts organizations, with research, exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops, and presentations.

b.  Work with Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities to find funds to create chairs in Fine Crafts.

c.  Foster a change in attitudes about crafts, through community education programs in the community at large, as well as the public school system

d.  Increase programs which foster greater community participation in crafts

e.  Provide business, marketing and leadership skills to local crafts artists.     Very often the barrier to involving crafts artists in economic development projects is one of communication and understanding.    Craft artists need to market their goods and be able to create and sustain new markets, but lack the skills to do so.    Community economic developers don’t know how to talk and work with craft artists, because this common language of commerce does not often exist.     Creative partnerships between craft artists and economic developers often breakdown.   The city needs to confront the issues here, and encourage these kinds of partnerships.

f.  Stimulate demand for local crafts products.  

g.  Create more opportunities to integrate different types of crafts and different types of sub-communities which create crafts.        Find the synergy, and leverage the excitement around beauty, labor, and identity, for purposes of economic development.    Crafts include systems associated with design, with production and with distribution.   Be aware of all of these.

h.  Create a “Nashville Design”.     Working with the entire community, develop a set of standards about design, materials, construction, appeal, sensibility, production, distribution and cost.   These standards should result in a unique sense of Nashville Design, and should serve to attract buyers, both locally and nationally, to purchase crafts in our local market.       The process of developing these standards could also serve as a way of centrallizing local attention on crafts.    Any set of standards should be sensitive to both traditional and contemporary crafts.      Develop a way to assure the authenticity of any craft/craft artist meeting these kinds of standards.      Use the existence of these standards to encourage companies which produce and/or distribute crafts to relocate to the Nashville area.

i.  Create a Crafts Marketplace, (or an Arts and Crafts marketplace), where vendors who sell crafts can have showrooms, and conduct business-to-business sales.     This could be an actual year-round business in a fixed location, or could be 3-4 exhibitions held in the Convention Center.

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Finding A Job That Utilizes Your Bead Experience

Posted by learntobead on December 25, 2009


Times are tough — particular for craft artists — as opportunities to teach or sell their crafts diminish with the recession, and are slow to come back with an economic recovery.

This is especially true for students graduating with art or fiber arts or other related degrees with a craft specialty, including beadwork.      In this environment, while there may be shortages of more obvious jobs — like instructor or jewelry artist/apprentice, this are still many job and career opportunities for you.   

You may have to do a little more leg work, and a little more tree-shaking.   Don’t assume, however, when the linear pathway is blocked, that all pathways are blocked.   They are not.

Some types of jobs/careers that might use your talents…..

There are a lot of private companies, nonprofit agencies, government agencies, and foundations and philanthropic agencies that work with disadvantaged groups, and need people to provide technical assistance to these groups.   These groups might be inner city.   They might be rural.   They might be overseas.   

Very often, projects these businesses and organizations work on have a craft-angle to them.    They may need people to teach crafts, to teach people to transfer their craft skills into marketable skills, or to assist people in applying for loans to start up businesses, usually small loans and usually things associated with selling crafts.

Banks have found it profitable to make “micro-loans”.  These loans are very small amounts, and usually given to women in developing countries, to help them leverage their skills — often craft skills — to make a business out of them.   Banks need personel to
– develop loan forms, documentation and procedures
– find opportunities for making these loans
– working with people to teach them how to apply for these loans
– working with people to teach them how to be more accountable with loan moneys
– working with people to teach them how to translate their craft skills into marketable skills (called transfer of technology).     Often this means helping them find resources to get materials, make choices about materials and what would be most cost-effective, and how to market their products
– working with people to find markets for, and otherwise promote, their products
– helping people form cooperatives so that they can buy materials more cheaply, and sell and market their products cooperatively

Government and International Agencies need people to….
– determine where — what communties, what demographics — they can most likely leverage local talents to better people’s lives.     Crafts, particularly beading, provide very useful talents around which to leverage
– evaluate local technologies — and these include all craft technologies — in terms of readiness and/or capability for cost-effective technology transfer.
– do some community organizing to make local people aware of governmental assistance (or other assistance), and to help them complete applications for this assistance
– evaluate these kinds of programs to determine success, and make recommendations about how to increase these successes
– document craft technologies, particularly among native, tribal, or isolated groups that are in danger of becoming extinct.
– similarly, to create ways to preserve craft technologies which are in danger of becoming extinct, or which became extinct a long time ago, and which be restored.     A good example is how South Korea restored the art of celadon pottery making, or China’s work at preserving Yixing Tea Pot making.

Military Agencies do similar things as governmental ones, except from a slightly different perspective.     They want to know, in an anthropological sense, how people value different local technologies — including craft technologies –, and which ones can military and related civilian advisors assist the locals with, to improve their economy and security.

Philanthropic Foundations have many missions.   One mission is to improve and secure the health, welfare, and social economy of particular areas or population groups.    Crafts are one way of accomplishing this, particularly if working with disadvantaged populations or areas.   

Crafts are things people do all the time, that are attractive as products (and services if you are teaching), improve the quality of life, and form the roots of good businesses — especially start-ups.

Another mission of Philanthropic organizations is to pre-test different strategies for social and economic development.      Again crafts, and beads especially, can form the basis of many strategies for business development, empowerment of minorities and women, assistance for the elderly, technology transfer, and the like.

Philanthropic organizations need people who can…
– develop grants, rules and applications
– find community organizations to apply for these grants
– evaluate the success of grants
– work with academics and consultant experts to generate experimental ideas to be tested through grants
– work with local, state and national government agencies to find cost-sharing ways of testing out these “ideas”
– in similar way, find and negotiate public-private partnerships towards this end

Information technology companies, with Google a prime example, are in the business of translating reality into tables of data that can easily be accessed and assessed.     These types of companies need people who can
– translate craft terms and activities into categories for which data can be consistently collected, organized, stored and analyzed
– work with museums and galleries which buy, own, exhibit, store or display crafts, to develop ways to collect and categorize routine data on these collections and their importance to different types of people and groups
– sell the use of these craft-specific databases to companies or individuals that will use them
– work with craft magazines, museums, schools, galleries and the like to help standardize some of the terminologies and valuations associated with various crafts, to make it easier to collect and sort data about them

Museums, Galleries and Libraries employ craft artists to…
– catalog collections
– document quality of items
– restore aged or otherwise damaged pieces
– write brochures and promotional materials
– organize exhibits
– raise funds for exhibits
– advocate for funds among government agencies and philanthropic groups
– organize a “crafts” section where none has existed before
– promote fine crafts
– organize a craft show to raise money and/or awareness

Many museums, galleries and libraries have tons of things in storage that have only loosely been documented, and need much more documentation and organization.

Non-Profit Groups employ all kinds of people with all kinds  of backgrounds.    They always need help with many fund-raising or program-targeting things.   Your craft knowledge can play a very useful role here.

For example, take your local breast cancer society.     Think of all the kinds of craft-type things you can make, and for which they can sell, to raise money.   You could organize a craft braintrust among your friends, and turn out item after item with breast cancer awareness themes and colors.   Or you could scour the internet for breast cancer awareness craft items, and make them work for you.    And you could repeat this success for many other local nonprofit groups.   

One of my friends went to the Atlanta Gift Show, and identified vendors that had products that could easily be adapted for breast cancer awareness.   She worked out with each one what the minimum orders would be, how much lead time would be needed between placing and order and receiving the merchandise, and price.     Then she went to local breast cancer groups and presented them with the options.   She added 15% to the prices as her commission.    These organizations fund raise all the time, and are in major need of new things to sell and promote.    My friend had to lay out very little money — basically the cost of a trip to Atlanta, some phone calls and paperwork — and generated a very lucrative business for herself.

I remember spending some time in Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York City.  This hospital specializes in cancer treatment.    I was observing patient activities.  One of these activities involved volunteers pushing a cart around with various craft activites for patients to do.  

Most of the patients in the rooms in the Ward I was on could barely move their bodies, arms and hands.    They were very medicated, and had many needles and IV’s stuck into them during their stay.    All the craft projects on these carts required considerable manual dexterity — knitting, beading with seed beads, crocheting.      The volunteers would cheerily come into the room, announce themselves, and ask if the patient wanted any of these fun crafts to do.   The patients would shake their heads No, and grunt.   The patiens could barely move.    And the volunteers left the room, unconcerned.

I took a trip to FAO Schwartz — the toy store — and came back with sets of interlocking building blocks.   The blocks were made from differnt colors of plastic.  They were different shapes.   A patient could easily hold one or two pieces in their hands without requiring much manual dexterity.   The pieces fit together easily by interlocking two pieces, where a slot had been cut out in each.   These were a big hit on the Ward.    They allowed creativity, without much manual dexterity.   The pieces were large enough, that the patient could manipulate them with their hands, and not worry about losing any, if they dropped to the floor.   

While a hit with the patients, my new blocks were not a hit with the volunteers.  I guess they were afraid they would somehow lose their volunteer positions.    But I’m sure I could have marketed and sold them to the hospital, had I stepped out of my academic role at the time.     

Another company found a good opportunity in a hospital setting with children.    The company developed a system using different color beads, which could help children with various symptoms, but similar disease, to better relate to each other, and the future.    Again, another idea using crafts in an atypical context.

In hospitals and health care settings, I’ve helped create programs to assist occupational therapists with improving manual dexterity with the elderly, therapists with improving attention spans with children, conducting memory agility tests with patients, and many more programs, utilizing crafts materials and technics.

There are plenty of social and community problems to solve, many different kinds of businesses and organizations responsible for solving these problems, and many solutions which require crafts — materials or technologies which are workable, do-able, saleable, and implementable.       There most likely won’t be advertised positions for these kinds of things.    But you would be surprised how easy it can be to create your own job opportunities and ones which utilize your craft experiences and knowledge.

Be sure to…

1. Be able to clearly define how your craft knowledge/experience can help your prospective employer solve some of her/his (NOT YOUR) problematic situations.

2. Approach the prospective employer by phone or in person first.   Then follow-up with a resume and cover letter.     Don’t assume that, because you can make the intellectual link between job and solution, that the employer will see this link when reading a resume.   You’ll probably have to educate the employer a bit.       This really doesn’t take much effort.  

3.  Cite examples of what kinds of things you can do.   If you can identify other programs or individuals with success stories, do so. 

4.   If you make your “job search” also a “mission to educate people about crafts”, you’ll be surprised how much energy and excitement you bring to the job interview situation.

– Warren

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Exhibiting Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on September 9, 2009

Exhibiting Jewelry

Because jewelry is small, and the details even smaller, it’s difficult to get good images of your pieces, and it’s difficult to display them well.

Here’s a clever idea for getting people to notice your pieces and spend a little more time exploring their details.

Parking Garage Karlsplatz, Düsseldorf

Ten objects of differing sizes have been threaded into the perforated façade of the parking garage on Karlsplatz. They are greatly magnified pieces of jewelry of the kind that might be worn by the users of the parking garage in the fashion center, Düsseldorf. The modular façade, which cannot be
experienced except as a foreign body in the Old City, is turned by the jewelry worked into it into the display case of a heterogeneously furnished jeweler’s shop.
Fotos: Peter Stumpf










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Photographing Fashionable Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on August 6, 2009


You have to be creative in how you stage the set for photographing your jewelry.   If people are web-surfing, you want to entice them to stay on your page a little longer, rather than click-thru to somewhere else.    If they are looking at items in a magazine or newspaper, you want them to linger a bit longer than turning the page.

I first began looking for some good ideas for photographing jewelry at the 7th International Festival of Fashion Photography in Cannes.     There were few examples of jewelry photos, however.   These included two by Marc Turlan

marc turlan

marc turlan

marc turlan

marc turlan

These didn’t excite me, so I kept web-surfing and came across the website of a fashion photographer names Niva Kedem.     Now I was getting closer to the mark.

Her website:

She groups her photos into photo-style categories, so you can actually learn a lot about imaging on her website, from how she groups her own examples.

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

It’s difficult to photograph jewelry.  You need to convey details in the piece, and the details are small.    You want to convey a sensibility about the piece — its emotions, its sexuality and sensuality, its use of materials, its relevance to certain contexts.     Many of the components have reflective qualities, which can change colors in photos, or affect the colors of the nonreflective surfaces around it.    You want to convey the artist’s style.

“The photography of jewelry can achieve a whole lot more than just depicting products. It can focus on unique details that generate very different feelings and can contribute to the visual communication of the jewelrys inspiration. Unfortunately, we see time and again that jewelry designers adopt a strangely ambivalent position when faced with how to communicate their products. This applies in particular to jewelry manufacturers in the initial stages of their careers. It is a crying shame that there are so many designers able to achieve the highest standards of precision and perfect craftsmanship in the production of jewelry and then proceed to take inferior photos of it that in no way do justice to their own excellent work. Conversely, established designers who are familiar with trade fair business and with handling the media have usually already discovered or experienced how important it is to define a clear approach in communicating ones own style of jewelry and its special features. An idea of who is or may be the target group for the jewelry can help the photographer or designer find a suitable language of images….   —

Communication With Jewelry Photography
By Christel Trimborn
Spring 2004″
You can have a “clean” shot or a “staged” shot.   The clean shot shows the jewelry without any background or other details.    The staged shot shows the jewelry in some kind of context.   It may be worn by someone, or not.

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Lydia Courteille

Posted by learntobead on May 12, 2009

Lydia Courteille
Beautiful Jewelry and Fantastic Marketing Images


From diamond encrusted frog earrings to a stunning pink jasper rose and jeweled monkey bracelet, Lydia Courteille has a talent for transforming aspects of nature into exquisite works of art.

Pay close attention to this promotional photograph of her jewelry.   The photo captivates her artistic perspective.   It enhances the appeal of her jewelry.   It makes you want to buy her pieces and wear them.


It’s difficult to display or present cuff bracelets, whether it’s an image, or on the shelf.   You can’t easily get a look at the full piece, or a sense of its essence.   This is a great display image for her monkey bracelet.









This wonderful piece is a ring.





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Naming Your Business

Posted by learntobead on April 28, 2009

What on earth do you think you would buy from The Flan Corporation?

Flan? The Spanish kind or the Mexican version?

Flans? Whatever they are – automotive parts?

Franny-Lisa-Alicia-Nancy kind of stuff?

Would you ever buy a Swarovski necklace of glass pearls, crystallized elements, 14KT gold clasp and real faceted emeralds from The Flan Corporation?

The Flan Corporation is a Chinese company that sells handcrafted, beadwoven jewelry. I don’t know what “Flan” means in Chinese, but, here in the US, it’s not a word that would immediately make me salivate about handcrafted, beadwoven jewelry.

It’s really difficult to pick a business name. It’s harder than naming your child. It’s harder than naming your dog. I’ve tried many times with varying degrees of success. And the first business name you pick might seem great and work great at the beginning, but will it evolve with your business as well? Maybe yes, maybe not. What’s important is not only how good your business name sounds, and how appealing it is today, but also how adaptable it is over time, as you grow or change your business.

I can’t claim 100% success with my tries at naming a business. Take “Land of Odds.” This has been my best name-selection to date, but it hasn’t been perfect.

I came up with that name 30 years ago for a hobbyist type business, where I refinished antique lamps, and some other antiques, for people. When James and I started our jewelry, beads and gifts business, I thought that Land of Odds would be good for that, as well. The name “Land of Odds” always gets such great responses from people. And it is memorable.

As our business grew and grew, Land of Odds – the name – grew with it. We added more handcrafted jewelry, unusual greeting cards, some neat clothing, collectible lines. The name still worked.

Then our business hit a wall. We were located downtown, and the city of Nashville took away 6,000 parking spaces within an 18 month period of time. The city had renovated this downtown historic district, and for various reasons, cars and parking got in the way of continued development. Our business dropped precipitously. I had to put us into Chapter 11 for awhile. James and I dissolved our business partnership, and we put most of the assets in a new business for him that we called Be Dazzled, and we put most of the liabilities under the Land of Odds name.

Now we were functioning with two names used to describe similar businesses that emphasized unusual, often hand-crafted jewelry, gifts, collectibles, gourmet foods, posters, clothing, and beads and jewelry findings.

I shut the physical Land of Odds store down, and continued the business as an internet company – http://www.landofodds.com . The online company was still called Land of Odds. At first, I put all our merchandise online – beads, jewelry, gifts, clothing, posters and gourmet food. Only two categories did well – beads and posters. I slowly began narrowing our focus to beads and posters, and eventually beads only.

As an online entity, we needed to get top placements in search engines in terms of key words like beads and jewelry findings. Search engine robots that indexed a business name with the words beads and/or jewelry findings in the name, would automatically assign it a higher ranking for those terms. A better online name would have been Beads At Land Of Odds or Land of Odds Beads.

Land of Odds” was still a name liked by all, but it no longer had the same strong association with beads and posters, and then with beads only. The business grew quickly online, and “Land of Odds” began to have a strong “brand” following. But again, no longer the most strategic business name, given what I was doing now.

Be Dazzled” was another popular name. The image James had for this business was jewelry that was hand made and wowed people. The business faltered, however. We got rid of most of the merchandise, turned Be Dazzled into a bead store, and eventually recombined Land of Odds and Be Dazzled. At the time we recombined them, both had strong brand identities, so we kept both names. We managed the physical store called Be Dazzled separately from Land of Odds – the online store. When Be Dazzled became all “beads”, I added the word “BEADS” everytime I referred to Be Dazzled — “Be Dazzled Beads” — , from our stationery to answering the phone to setting up its website — www.bedazzledbeads.com .

In the bead business, there are many variations on the name “Beadazzled”. Most people, even regular customers who visit the shop everyday, think that’s our name. We were lucky that Be Dazzled/jewelry morphed so well into Be Dazzled/beads. But we would have been better off if we had worked “beads” into the name somehow. There are a couple of small chain operations called “Beadazzled.” For awhile, someone opened up a bead store in Nashville called “Beadazzled”. There’s always some confusion for and with our shop name.

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Selling Your Jewelry In Recessionary Times

Posted by learntobead on March 30, 2009

Selling Your Jewelry
In Recessionary Times

With a financial crisis in full swing, it has become more difficult to sell your jewelry. Fewer stores, fewer customers, fewer craft shows. At the same time, the costs of all the supplies – beads, stringing materials, jewelry findings – have been increasing at much faster rates than inflation. This adds to the problem.

At the same time, it is getting more difficult to get your “message” to your “customer.” With things like blogs, facebook, my space, twitter, other interactive sites and social networks, people are organizing into ever-smaller market niches.   It’s too expensive and too time-consuming to get enough people to be aware of your business, that you can continue to make a living.

They are no longer reading the mainstream magazines and newspapers to get their primary sources of information, to the extent that they have in the past. They are not going to local craft shows or local stores as much, because they have an online world of Etsy and Ebay and 26 million jewelry sites listed on Google.

Perhaps these times and prospects can be reinterpreted as an opportunity to rethink how you approach your jewelry selling business. At the least, perhaps you can better secure your base during these times, in preparation for more growth and expansion as the financial crisis bottoms out, and then gradually improves.

It’s time to take a hard look at your “business model.” You have probably been operating as a one or two person operation. You, or both of you, do everything. You create the designs. You make the jewelry. You market and sell your jewelry. You wear many hats.

“Unbundling” is a strategy where you give up control of some business functions, and rely on the expertise of other companies or organized groups. One obvious thing is to rely on UPS or FedEX for your shipping needs.

I suggest you think about no-cost and low-cost ways to unbundle some of your marketing and promotion. One inexpensive and effective way is to get a regular group together of others who sell hand-crafted jewelry or other hand-crafted items.

As a group,

– develop and share mailing and emailing lists

– try to brand the group with an identify of having quality, affordable hand crafted items for sale

– have a major presence, even a controlling presence, at a local craft show

– generate a logo that everyone includes on their websites and their packaging

– set up your own blog and try to attract potential customers to your blog

– interlink your websites into a web-ring

– have regular discussions about business strategies

– approach suppliers as a group to bargain for group discounts

On one level, you give up some control in managing these aspects of your business. On another, however, you get to leverage the talents and time and resources of these other businesses. This might be the smartest way to continue to reach your customers, and continue surviving and thriving when things are tough, and the business environment keeps changing and evolving.

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