Thursday, June 20, 2013

Out of Africa

Out of Africa
4 strands at rest and not twisted together.
Not too long ago I created this multi strand necklace and have debated about exactly what to do with it. It is a beautiful piece created around a precious strand of African tribal beads. These beads had been purchased by someone I knew who had lived a few years in Angola, Africa and it was there that she came across these lovely, handmade beads.
Lucky her, she managed to obtain several strands from the village chieftain.
This particular village was primitive and did not have resources such as fancy, electric kilns, or even work tables upon which the bead artisans could craft their beads. Instead of a well equipped studio, these crafters either sat outside on the ground or they sat on the earthen floors of their huts while they worked creating their beads. Their kilns were crude brick ovens fueled by wood fires.

Making beads or a number of other handcrafted items provided an income for the villagers and afforded them a standard of living that provided them with life's basics;  food, clothing and shelter and perhaps not a whole lot more.

Holy - Moly there's a lot of 14 k gold filled saucers beads !

When my friend offered to sell me a strand or two of these marvelous beads, I jumped at the opportunity even though I had not the slightest idea just what I would do with them.  It was months later that I happen to mix them up with some lovely ivory colored freshwater pearls and some 14 k gold filled beads that I realized it was a winning combination.   So if one strand of this combination would be a winner, what would 4 strands be?  A  Jackpot !
Above photo shows the 4 strands twisted together.
 Since the African beads are a lovely rusty red, I decided what better to compliment them than rich, Red Jasper.  And so it was that I used red jasper to create links at the back of the necklace and fashioned an "S" hook clasp using a large Red Jasper bead and  gold filled wire.
Photo above shows the 6 and 8 mm Red Jasper beads and my handmade "S" clasp.
Okay, so what's the problem?  Well, I was more involved with creating a piece of art than something that would fit into my  usual line of jewelry and went out of my ball park on price points.  

The "Out of Africa" necklace contains:

·         2 strands freshwater ivory pearls 

·         1  1/2 strands  of those precious African beads

·         6 feet  of 49 strand, super flexible, beading cable 

·          2  gem grade, Red Jasper 6 mm beads

·          3  gem grade, Red Jasper 8mm beads

·         18  gauge 12 k gold filled wire

·         20 gauge 14 k gold filled wire

·         8 crimp tube beads in 14 k gold fill

·         8   jumprings in 14 k gold fill

And an incredible 162 ,  14 k gold filled 4.7 mm saucer beads. !!!   These beads cost a small fortune and if you look them up you'll find:

·         Fire Mt. Gems' best price (the 200+ level) is 62 cents apiece (.62 x 162 = $100.44 without the $5 S and H fees)

·         Artbead's best price  (for 40+ beads) is 72 cents each (72 x 162 = $121.50)

And so there is my problem.  With so much vested in materials I'm really hesitant to list it on etsy where many shoppers are looking for handcrafted bargains instead of handcrafted future heirlooms.  A part of me says; "Forget it, you'll be wasting your time and 20 cents".  However a big part of me says; "Hey, what the heck!  For 20 cents go ahead and list it, the worse that can happen is that nobody buys it".
I really like the way the choker looks with the clasp worn at the side of the neck.

I would love to hear any experience that you may have had listing something that you thought might frighten a customer away from it. . . or perhaps having something sell that you thought would never stand a chance. . .or how about those things you thought were fantastic but for some reason just never attracted the right person.   Or have you ever made something and then figured out the cost (like I did) and was floored by how much went into materials ?


  1. I think it's just lovely! And the story of where the beads come from makes it that much prettier. Personally I'd say list it and if nothing happens - nothing happens. You won't know til you try! :-)

  2. Pretty beads!!!!!!!!! nice colors!!!! Very pretty!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Those beads are fabulous and beautifully presented in the necklace you made. Did you try Shipwreck Beads for pricing info? They are very reasonable; pretty competitive w/ Fire Mtn Gems.

    You really sank a lot of time and money into it, so if I were you, I'd keep it for yourself. I don't figure out what i spent to the penny, but if I know I paid a lot of money for certain beads, I make it for myself rather than try to sell it with a high price. On the other hand, you could put it up there on a trial basis just to see what happens. If it doesn't sell in a certain time period, then keep it.

  4. This is beautiful. Go ahead and list it for a price which includes the costs of the beads. (I always price my items at the usual retail restocking fee for materials.)

    In your listing explain that the cost reflects the quality and rarity of the materials used.

    One of the things that I do know is if you price your work as art you can get the price.

    Good luck.

  5. I agree with Jo Jo. List it for what you think it is worth...if it does not sell with in a certain time period keep it for yourself.

    You have some beautiful pieces in your store.

    This piece is really precious ( not Almost Precious!)So if I were you I might have had hard time giving it away.

  6. What a stunning necklace! The story of the beads make it even more so. I say list it and see what happens.

  7. Love the combination of African tribal beads with the gold and pearls. I also love designs with stories!

  8. Thank you everyone. I have read and re-read each and every comment and appreciate them all. :)

    I have always enjoyed listening to other artists explain how a certain piece came into being, to hear about their visions and their inspirations and I feel that this gives a piece its history and makes it unique and unlike anything that is mass produced.

    There is one other thing that all of our handmade items have that no factory manufactured item can ever incorporate and that is the love and passion that we put into whatever it is that we create.

    Keep on creating my dear friends, no matter what it is that you make when it comes from your heart and your hands it becomes precious. :)

  9. With zero experience in selling jewelry, I can only gasp in admiration of this gorgeous necklace - list it and see what happens. Tell the story to more people - why not show it in some blog party and even though you have many followers, you'll see the number of visitors going up. No promises but it will be seen by more people :)

  10. What an amazingly beautiful necklace, and I love the story!!

    I think you should list it, and make sure it reflects all your costs and your time to create it. Don't even take into consideration the fact that some people are looking for something cheap. Those people are not your customer. There are a lot of people out there that appreciate beautiful handmade items with wonderful stories. List it, you might be surprised and someone will purchase it. If it does not sell then it will look great on you!

    Everyday Inspired

  11. LIST IT!!! If only just to see how many admirers you get. Have you ever thought about trying to get your items into a store on consignment (selling as new of course?) I think you should give that a whirl too. Your pieces are beautiful! Don't second guess your 1st gut instinct, and confidence in your work is a must. Remember nothing beats fear except a TRY. I've seen one or two that I will purchase once I get my money flow right.


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