Series Or One-Of - A - Kind? The Beginner's Dilemma


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One of the most repeated questions I get on my mailbox from starting jewelers is “Should I make series or one-of-a-kind pieces? What is most likely to make me succeed?” I had that dilemma for a long time too. I shifted from one choice to another, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. To be true, I was wrong in both positions.

In terms of supplies, time, investment and studio organizing, it really makes a big difference to make series or unique pieces. Let’s look at the good and bad points about both alternatives more closely:

The good sides of making jewelry in series:
-You can buy big quantities of beads, which usually makes the price lower, and so the price of pieces is also lower.
- Every time you make a piece again, you are mastering your skills, so the piece tends to take less and less time. That gives you the real average time you need to make it, which makes pricing easier.
-You don’t have to update your website so often because you can choose to change products seasonally – or never. That gives you time to improve your blogging, photographing skills, etc. It also gives time for promoting your business and making it bigger and better.
-You don’t have to be very inspired to work just as fine.
-Unsold pieces in small quantities makes great discount sales.

The bad sides of making jewelry in series:
-It can become unbearably boring. You will have to challenge your creativity in other ways.
-If you have a small market niche, you will have to make new series constantly to keep your customers interested.
-You have to buy big quantities of beads so, if pieces do not sell well, you will have tons of unsold inventory waiting to be recycled or sold underpriced.
-You need more studio space because you buy bigger supplies.

The good sides of making one-of-a-kind pieces:
-Every piece you make is a new discovery of your inner landscape. The experience is not comparable to anything. You can enjoy the process of making a jewel for as long as you want.
-Uniqueness raises considerably the price so, you can make more money working less.
-You don’t need big quantities of anything so you don’t need to invest a lot of money when you are starting and you don’t need a big studio.
-Customers tend to think you are a better artist if you don’t do series, because people love to buy uniqueness.
-Recycling vintage jewelry to make one-of-a-kind pieces is a strongly growing market. Second-hand jewelry can be found at very low prices at flea markets and thrift stores. Also friends and relatives can contribute with broken or unused pieces, making a very profitable income for beginners.
-You can work with an endless diversity of materials and techniques, making you a more complete crafter.

The bad sides of making one-of-a-kind-pieces:
-It is very time consuming as you have to make a new design every time. That makes prices raise, and it is not easy to sell high if you are a beginner!
-That a piece is one-of-a-kind does not mean you will achieve it at the first try. Sometimes you have to make a piece two or three times but you only sell the last one.
-It puts custom orders away, because customers tend to buy what you have, not what you could make.
-The amount of time you need to make a one-of-a-kind piece is not an average time so pricing becomes more difficult. That you need two hours to make that earrings doesn’t mean it takes two hours to make them!
-A lot of unfinished projects fall on the way. You won’t earn a cent for the time you took making them.
-It is very hard to work if you are uninspired, worried, sad or angry.

My personal advice: Avoid boredom and do both!

If you own a home business, indolence is your main enemy! Making both series and one-of-a-kind pieces will keep you busy whether if you are inspired or not. Personally I make a couple of one-of-a-kind pieces between series. When I feel my inspiration is going down I do repetitive work, which you can use to get into a very relaxing meditative state of mind. Then usually a new idea comes up after three or four days. I also do the “office work” when I’m less artsy – I write my articles, update the blog and such.

I think this makes a very comforting and stimulating balance. Giving myself the chance to choose both alternatives have not only ended with boredom and inactive impasses, but also have increased sales wonderfully! Some customers only buy if it’s expensive, and some only buy if it’s cheap! You can have something for both, which is very positive when you have a small market.

If you work constantly you will find your regular rhythms, something that is crucial in reaching your full potential. For example, I always start the week with office work, then do some series, then some unique items, and the weekend is my best selling time. If you work naturally with your own energies, and get to know when’s the perfect time to go out and sell, or when you should stay home and work, you will be more effective, make less mistakes and earn more profits- not only money profits, but in general peace of mind and clearness to make the best choices for you. Stop fighting with yourself and start listening to yourself instead.

Born and living in Tenerife (Canary Islands) Full-time jewelry artist and owner and designer of NeoVamp Jewelry, a OOAK fine bijouterie business. Expert in wire-wrapping and former illustrator and tattoo artist. I have also extensive knowledge in symbolism and healing properties of stones and colours. Every piece I make is completely handcrafted and unique, often recycling vintage jewelry.

I've published a free course about Doll Customizing, a personal passion, and was interviewed by Rena KLingenberg in January for the Success Stories section of her site. In November last year I was interviewed by the Canary Islands TV Channel on the live show Canarias Directo.

My future plans include writing more articles and downloadable tutorials, as I'm being asked constantly about my wiring techniques.


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