How to start a jewellery business
Do you aspire to create the next Tiffany & Co.? From hallmarks to market opportunities, we look at what it takes to launch a successful jewellery firm
Key steps to starting a jewellery business:
- Work out your business plan for a jewellery business
- Research the best way for a jewellery business to reach the market
- Understand the costs to start your own jewellery business
- Check legislation and regulations for launching a jewellery business
- Find industry contacts for jewellery suppliers, events (and awards)
What is a jewellery business and who is it suited to?
The jewellery industry
It may be a competitive industry, but jewellery remains an incredibly popular market to start a business in. According to a report from business intelligence group Key Note the industry didn’t falter during the recession, experienced consistent growth in the last five years and jumped 3.4% in 2014.
It’s also a business that enables designers and artists with entrepreneurial instincts to utilise their creativity and craftsmanship to make a name for themselves in the world of fashion and accessories. It can be a perfect venture to start part-time as many jewellery firms can be launched on a relatively low budget. Moreover, there’s an enticingly broad range of options when it comes to creating a jewellery brand. Jewellery products tend to fall into one of the following product types: fine, custom, costume, or handmade jewellery, for example, as well as a variety of potential market options from affordable, market-stall and high-street to luxury and couture jewellery.
However, as the saying goes, not all that glitters is gold; jewellery is an industry that takes a considerable amount of planning and work to make it a success. As well as the creative aspect, from designing a line to creating a brand, a jewellery business comes with certain industry-specific regulations, significant competition, and cashflow issues to consider. It’s also not always a lucrative business unless you manage to secure a line in some of the large retail outlets and jewellery houses.
If you plan to grow your jewellery dream into a sustainable business, it will takes commitment and preparation – from studying your target market to learning every bit you can about your product.
It may be worth considering seeing if you can get a Start Up Loan (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) to help you with financing, and mentoring to start this business idea. You'll also need to think about registering your business, either as a sole trader or as a company - if a company, then Smarta Formations (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) are an organisation that can help you set up.
What does it take to be a jewellery designer?
While you will need a creative flair and a knowledge of design, you must be organised and think with the business in mind to make it as a jewellery designer. Tom Blake from Keep Me Jewellery, which is a sterling silver jewellery line that comes with 3D printed collectable characters, explains: “If you are a designer and maker, you have to be business minded at all times. Designing and making your jewellery collection is the fun part but you need to design things that are cost effective and profitable. Then you need to work hard to sell it.”
Organisation and persistence are something Sacha Jacobsen, who runs an art- and location-inspired handmade jewellery company Sacha Jacobsen Designs, emphasises: “You need to be very organised, you can’t run out of boxes when you have orders to get sent out! I feel that through trial and error, you find your balance with getting stock levels right, but it’s not easy at first. You can overspend and have too much, or underspend and run short!”
The balance between the business owner (often working with tight resources) and creator means that entrepreneurs need to have the ability to juggle many different roles under pressure. Jacobsen says: “Sometimes there just isn’t enough hours in the day to keep up with all the orders and requests people have… you have to do everything yourself when you start, not just the fun making bit. You have to do the accounts, the ordering, the taking out of the bins!” So don’t expect it to be all glamour and creativity.
Finally, an aspiring jewellery designer must be a good communicator and a people person as you will have to work with a range of people every day, from customers and suppliers to shop owners and staff. Being able to manage a team, handle supply issues and keep customers happy is vital to success.